PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE NAVY.
I want to sail on that Ship when I grow up.
I was influenced by Navy recruiting commercials and indifference toward formal study in High School! I couldn't figure out what I wanted to study, and I really had no interest in starting college around where I grew up in southern Illinois. Except for one notable vacation; my family couldn't afford any lengthy vacation away from my hometown- I really felt like I wanted to ESCAPE southern Illinois! Navy sea duty seemed like the most unusual, exciting military service I could do after growing up in the middle of the country- I was also amazed by the variety of "high-tech" training they offered!
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
I entered the Navy via the Delayed Entry Program. I signed up in late 1979 after graduating High School, and headed off to Orlando Boot Camp in early 1980. In the process of signing up I took the ASVAB test and scored high enough to qualify for nearly all enlisted
Hard at Work
training programs except the Nuclear propulsion support field. I missed qualifying for that by 2 or 3 points! So I discovered and decided on the Data Systems Technician Rating. At that time the DS rating required a 6-year enlistment commitment to include a specialization "C" school. However at that time; as I remember it, a maximum initial enlistment was limited to 4 years. So at that time, us DSs would sign a 2-year extension upon completion of DS "A" school to receive our "C" school training.
My first year and a half in the Navy were spent in technical training. After Boot Camp in Orlando, I attended the self-paced Basic Electricity & Electronics course also on the sprawling RTC Orlando base. In late summer of 1980 I visited home for about a week on the way to my next training station on Mare Island Naval Station next to Vallejo, California, north of San Francisco. DS "A" school was about half a year long and covered, "skills and knowledge in the fundamentals of computer mathematics, logical analysis of digital circuits, machine language programming, digital equipment maintenance to the logic element and the Planned Maintenance Subsystem." After "A" school I signed my 2-year extension and proceeded for another half-year in my "C" school. It covered Preventive and Corrective Maintenance on the UYA-4 Display Equipment system. Most notably the display scopes used by Operations Specialists & Air Traffic Controllers to track air and surface contacts.
Finally after a year and a half in the Navy; my desire to escape as far away as possible from small-town life in Collinsville, southern Illinois was finally coming to pass. Before I finished my training at Mare Island I had received orders for duty as a Display Technician on the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41); home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan! Initially, my orders to USS Midway in Japan had been for 2 years. I enjoyed my work on-board and being in Asia so much that I extended my time on the ship by a year. Actually, I had requested permission for a fourth year on-board, but I received orders to shore duty in San Diego before that ship-board extension could be approved. At that point I was almost 5 years into my 6-year Navy commitment. I spent the rest of my enlistment at the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego on shore duty. I was assigned to the Fire Control Technician School training equipment maintenance staff during my time there.I ended up being there an additional 14 months. I extended my enlistment until early 1987 in exchange for attending another tactical computer maintenance school. All in all, I had enjoyed my time in the Navy. I had built up quite a wealth of valuable training, work experience, and cherished memories. I did consider re-enlisting, but at this point I decided to leave and enter the 1st CivDiv.
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
My fondest Navy memories are from the USS Midway! Of course the nerdy DS work I did on-board was a great experience. Though mainly it was all the awesome sights I took in at our home-port in Japan, and all the spectacular liberty ports we enjoyed around Asia. Of course the best memories from that time are of all the colorful people I met around Asia, and whom I worked with on-board. My least favorite Navy memory is of the duty shift I was assigned to while on shore duty in San Diego. The maintenance crew worked the graveyard shift. There wasn't much to do, and I wasn't proactive enough at the time to utilize that slow time studying as some other POs did. Finally; my last LPO seemed to have issues with "substances", and acted like he had no interest in being there supervising us in the middle of the night. I might have re-enlisted if it hadn't been for those negative experiences on the graveyard shift at the end of my enlistment.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE MILITARY SERVICE, DESCRIBE ANY MEMORIES YOU STILL REFLECT BACK ON TO THIS DAY.
One time in home-port Yokosuka my class-leader( DS1 Joseph Jernigan) from DS "A" school showed up for a visit. He had become a submariner and was assigned to the USS Haddock (SSN-621). Joe's sub was in Yokosuka for a port visit, and they were next headed for Sasebo in Kyushu
island, SSW of Yokosuka. DS1 Jernigan brought me to the sub for a tour. I was fortunate to meet his Skipper also. The two of them spoke briefly and then asked me if I'd like to go for a ride on the Haddock to Sasebo! After I excitedly told them "YES!" I had to hustle to push through a special request chit for this with my Senior Chief and Division Head. I was given permission to count my 1 week of sub-duty on the USS Haddock as TAD time.
So I was on the Haddock for about a week. Indeed; submariners did get the best chow in the Navy. I can attest to that! I either hot-racked with my former class-leader, or slept on the deck of the sub's computer "room"( more like a closet!) I wore a 1-inch square dosimeter facing inward on my belt, to measure trace radiation that had passed through my body. I also got to steer the depth of the sub for several 2-hour watches. I manned the diving plane control yoke; having nothing more than a couple of gauges for feedback. It looked easy, but it was grueling for me after a couple of hours.
The most notable thing about this fantastic time on the USS Haddock is that the Soviets shot down KAL flight 007 while we were under the East China Sea. 269 passengers and crew were dead by the time the remains of that 747 went underwater in the Sea of Japan just west of the southern tip of Sakhalin Island. I had wondered why early one morning the radio teletype had started spitting out reports non-stop. It continued non-stop for over 24 hours! The next time I saw DS1 Jernigan he told me I might end up being on Haddock a LOT longer than a week, perhaps a month or more, and that the Cold War might be turning HOT! Fortunately; calm heads prevailed, and we arrived in Sasebo on-schedule. I rode the Bullet train to return from the area of Sasebo Naval Station back to Tokyo and the area of Yokosuka Naval Station.
As no photography was allowed on board this nuclear powered sub; this scan of the "Welcome Aboard" booklet received from the Skipper is the only evidence of the week I spent on the submarine. I rode the sub during the first week of September, 1983. It was while we were submerged that civilian KAL flight 007 was shot down just after passing over Sakhalin Island by the Soviet Air Force. It was on it's way from Anchorage to Seoul. The Cold War was at it's peak!
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR OTHER MEMORABILIA, WHICH ONE IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
My Sea Service Deployment ribbon.
This is no big deal to sailors who have served more than one enlistment; but to me the most meaningful award I earned is the Sea Service Deployment ribbon. It symbolizes the best memories I have from my time in the Navy.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
I did not connect with any strong mentor-type sailors during my time in- that may be part of the reason I didn't re-enlist. However; I did make friends with two guys who were very positive, and either motivational or inspiring. The first was DS1 Joseph Jernigan- he was my DS
Fire Control Training School, San Diego
"A" school class leader, and could be very gung-ho about what ever he desired doing. He befriended me in "A" school, and a couple years later he got me a ride on his submarine when he was assigned to the USS Haddock (SSN-621). Joe had previously been a Special Forces soldier in the Army. He pushed me to go after every thing I could possibly achieve during my Navy time! I've lost touch with him. Does anybody know of his whereabouts?
The second guy who made a positive impact on me was DS2 Art Scott whom I worked with on the USS Midway. He was always optimistic, reassuring, and generous with his technical knowledge. He was quite intelligent. He helped show me around our home port and liberty ports when I was a new, green, pollywog.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE, WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
This is a memory I chuckle about and think- "Those Nukes were like a mob of wild monkeys howling in the tree-tops like fools at us rookie BE&E trainees!". When I was attending the self-paced Basic Electricity & Electronics course in Orlando after Boot Camp, our barracks area was
Beep Beep Beep this !!!
located several blocks away from the BE&E training center. Between our barracks and the school was a long, wide concrete walkway. It passed by the barracks for one of the enlisted Nuclear Program Field training facilities.
For our training the routine was to secure together, muster outside, and march in formation from BE&E school back to our barracks area. Almost every day the "Nukes" would seem to be awaiting our passage on the walkway, standing at their open barracks windows on the second or third deck. Some would be half undressed; others swigging bottles of beer. It felt humiliating or frustrating almost every day when we'd pass by them and they'd "greet" us with loud yells of - "BEEp... BEEp... BEEp!!!" It would start with a single loudmouth, and end in a gang cacophony until after we had passed out of earshot.
And now you know the rest of the story.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
Putting my Military Training to good use.
I left the Navy in 1987 after my shore duty in San Diego. After serving on the USS Midway in Japan, I thought it would be interesting to go overseas again for a job. Thus I ended up here on Okinawa a few months after discharge, and I've been here ever since. Most of the time since I've been here I have worked as a tactical training device / simulator technician. I've been a contract worker for five different companies.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I'm an active member of the TogetherWeServed (TWS) Volunteer Profile Assistance Team.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER? WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT YOUR TIME IN THE SERVICE?
My other life, my Civilian Career
My feelings at the end of my 7 year enlistment were probably about the same as most single enlistment sailors. After some of the things I had experienced in the Navy, I felt that I could do just about anything if I made enough effort! So my Navy service gave my self confidence a big boost. I wouldn't have been able to land my first job without my Navy DS experience.
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE NAVY?
The nature of employment and work has changed vastly since the time I left the Navy in 1987. I'm sure it's more difficult now to get into, and stay in the "high-tech" ratings of today's Navy. But know this, you will NEVER have the same job security that you have
Get that Education as quickly as possible.
in the military! So think seriously about making it a career, unless you absolutely, just can't stand it. Truly, military life is not for everyone. Some people don't realize that until after they have joined.
The closest thing to it widely available is Civil Service, but we're now at the point where GS's are being furloughed, even laid off. That was nearly unheard of before the recent past. Unlike the past; no one can plan on just falling into a permanent company position that will last till retirement. Defined company pensions are a nearly extinct retirement concept, so save as much as you can, and as early as you can.
Lastly; if you're not going to make the military a career, you better at least aim on getting as many degrees, licenses, and certificates as you can during your time in the service.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
TWS and the US Navy
I look forward to & have immensely enjoyed reading the monthly NTWS e-mail newsletters wherein a highlighted member's Service Reflections are posted- they have reminded me of some of my own Navy experiences!