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by Abigail Van Buren

Gentlemen of U.S. Navy Treat Female Students With Respect

DEAR ABBY: In light of all the negative publicity given to some of the American servicemen with regard to their ungentlemanly behavior where women are concerned, I would like to share an experience I had recently.

I am a female American college student studying abroad at a program in Spain. Recently, three girlfriends and I went down south to the British colony of Gibraltar to sightsee. There, in a lively bar, we encountered about 40 U.S. Navy submarine men who were temporarily stationed there.

We four girls started a conversation with these Navy men centered around the men's families -- they all carried pictures of their girlfriends or wives back home; some even had snapshots of their babies.

While my father may have been leery about his daughter sitting with 40 men, I felt entirely at ease. Not once in the course of the evening was there a lewd remark or an inappropriate gesture directed at us girls. After spending a few hours at this bar, we all went dancing. Again, not a disrespectful hand was laid on my friends or me. To top off the night, when we girls were ready to go back to our hotel, the entire group walked us through the dimly lit streets and saw us safely to our doorstep.

Abby, without a doubt that was one of the most remarkable nights I had in my four-month stay in Europe. The U.S. Navy is to be commended for grooming its men to be respectable, honorable and chivalrous gentlemen. Thank you to the submarine crew of the James K. Polk. -- LORA WILSON, GRANTS PASS, ORE.

DEAR LORA: All too often the rotten apples in the barrel get the headlines while the good apples go unnoticed. Thank you for writing to relate your positive experience.