The year I graduated High School was the year I entered the U.S. Military. There was never a doubt, or question on the matter of what was happening in the world. It would be USN when the time came. My family has a long tradition of Naval service either USN or Royal Navy. We do go back a few years. I entered Boot Camp in November 1966 and first duty station March 1967. I went to Midway Island which is midway from Asia and America. At the time, I felt, I could do no worse, as it turned out I could do no better!
Being in Aviation, Midway opened up that whole world. A year on Midway was like four years at other duty station as I got the to chance to work with all types of Aircraft. Main duty was Line Crew daily and Search & Rescue to duty roaster. Helicopters 19 & 34. Utility Cargo Sea Plane-34. I made E-3 and then E-4 ADJ-3 (Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class) Filled out my dream sheet for heavy attack Squadrons but received orders for USS Oriskany CVA-34. Home Port San Francisco.
USS ORISKANY CVA-34
Assigned to Catapult & Arresting Gear and started as a hook runner. (HOOK RUNNER-When a plane lands and takes one of the cables laying across the flight deck sometimes it will twist, making it unable to release. I would run out, with crow bar and un-twist the cable).
Sewing on third Class Petty Officer ADJ-3 I had to be transferred to the proper division! V-6 Power Plants was proper division. (The ship went into dry dock and I/we were forced to live in San Francisco through the summer of 1968 -long story here) Back on Midway Island I had taken every class I could on everything & anything. One of these classes was driving of large trucks (Equipment) Besides my normal responsibilities, I was assigned the Cherry Picker. I don't know the proper name but it would throw planes off the flight deck when needed. Its a strange feeling, driving this Cherry Picker (I think they are called Earth Movers), on the flight deck and not being able to see the end of the deck.
Training for Vietnam – HAL-3 SEAWOLVES
Two days before the ship pulled out for its Vietnam Tour I was called down to Personal. They said pack your bags, You are leaving!
My orders- Report to Fort Eustis Va.- Army's Transportation School.
Little Creek Va.
Amphibious Base. Running, Swimming, Firearms, Class Room. Survival training, Escape & Evasion. Hand to Hand.
Imperial Beach Cal.
Firearms, Swimming, Class Room Stuff. Naval Aircrew Training. Survival Training. Hand to Hand
Coronado Beach/North Island.
Survival training, Running, Swimming.Class Room.
Vietnam Sept 1969
I landed in Vietnam on civilian airways. Looking out the window, was like viewing the surface of the moon. Motor holes, in different sizes, as far as I cold see. Landing at Saigon isn't all that bad. Its an/was an International Airport with all the little things airports have. From there a C-130 to Can Tho. Terrible flight, cold, very uncomfortable, a normal C-130 flight. Landing in Can Tho ( Army/Air force Base) lowering the back loading platform – was just like the scene from Platoon.
Breathing in hot, dusty air, hot haze around everything. Wind/prop wash blowing the dust around getting in your eyes, dust getting in everywhere. At this time, I'm in the Navy three years and have a good idea of what to do, where to go, how to act. I'm 23 years old and older then most who are serving there. I could see the poor kids, who were just out of Boot Camp. They can be spotted blocks away. New uniform that don't fit, hat with brims – straight across. Walking, looking three places at once, with nervousness on their faces. I felt so sorry for them.
To my surprise, the Navy had a jeep waiting for me and off to Binh Thuy I went. Binh Thuy, US Navy main base in Delta. PBR's on the River side & Seawolves & Black Ponies across RT#1 on the other. From the time I spent there and things happening, what comes to mind is the rice paddy engine change. I was told the first time it was done. It was a bit tricky but went well. We had a bird shot down, right in front of a Army outpost, 50 yards behind and jungle 50 yards in front. Just like in the movies, rice paddy water to your ankles and then mud almost to your knees. As we were setting up the Army came marching out and greeted us, saying "Your'e fairly safe right now and We'll keep watch, but Don't be here when it gets dark.There will be nothing we can do for you then."
I did spend 10 days in Army Hospital – great treatment. I can still see the nurses face and nick name was tiger, I'm sorry I don't know more – would love to say thank you.
Leaving Vietnam Oct 1970
Very interesting trip. I went from Binh Thuy South Vietnam to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in about three / four days and never had changed uniforms – All in my Greens. Black Beret was our uniform which made it even worst.
My trip home
Vietnam to Alaska.
Alaska to Travis Air Force Base.
Travis to Treasure Island San Francisco.
San Fran to NYC Kennedy Airport.
Kennedy to Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Navy Yard to home – civilian after 54 days short of 4 years.
Was already signed into Academy of Aeronautics. College was pretty nice but living on peanuts was not. In a Sunday newspaper – "New York Telephone wants you" I went and took the test, not really to get the job more to see how I would do, like can I pass a test.
Did well on the test. There was 5 test groups and to your scores you would be placed in a group. I did 4. Starting pay was $99.00 a week with top 199.00 after 5 years. They would start me at $134.00 and top after 3 years. I took the job. Did go back to collage time to time as the years passed.
I stayed with NY Tel, now known as Verizon, for almost 30 years. Retired at 52. Worked as a contractor till 62 and now I am retired fully.
I'll be married 40 years this November 2013. We met the first year of high school. My main interest – Firearms and at the range once a week. My Gun Club is one I dreamed about-
A gate card key gets you in any time. Fast cars – so the 2011 Jaguar XJ SuperSport takes care of that. Did do the bike thing but doctor said – one bad bump and your back will go out. You will have no control. I did not believe him, it happened, but on the riding lawnmower and fell to the ground in pain. The bike has not moved in 5 years.
Vietnam Veterans of America. I am a life member almost 30 years. I served as Chapter President, New York State Council and National Delegate about 10 years. Served on the New York State Council as Treasurer for two elected terms. What was a real surprise and proud of: They call me back to cast a vote for Members-at-Large for the VVA National Convention in Aug 3013. As far as I know, this does not happen often and never from out-of-state ( I now live in Gettysburg Pa)
Life is good…….. my family dynamics – gives me 4 grand kids. Two girls- 12 & 18. Two boys 3 & 17.