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Archive for the category “Military”

TIME TO SAY GOODBY

It was late September and my tour of duty was to end on the 23d of October. I was in a way going to miss this place and the friends I had made. Lt. Malera already told me to sit back and let my replacement do the work, Go hang out at the Acy-Ducy Club he said. Come muster in in the mornings and then take off, go take pictures. I was a Short-Timer and nobody wanted me. On October 1st. I received my packet with all the information I need to do and who I had to see before any transit papers could be issued. The Navy gave you about one to two days to do each thing and for the most part I could have this all done in 2 Hours.  There was Medical check-out, Disbursement (payroll) Records, and a host of other things I had to do but can’t remember them now. Anyway, I received my Transfer orders on the 16th. of October and my flight out and back to the States was scheduled for the 20th.  Lt. Malera got a going away party for me and the other 7 Seabees that came over with us at China beach the last Sunday before I left. We had a cook-out with real Hamburgers and Cold Beer. There was a lot back slapin and hand shaking and all in all, a good time. I ended up cooking the Hamburgers on the Grill, everyone else was more interested in drinking the Beer.

Grill time

For more pictures of my tour in Vietnam follow this link:http://kay-glen.smugmug.com/Other/My-In-Country-Time-1964-1968

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DOWN UNDER

When we landed in perth Australia I was so ready to see this country. As we were walking down the Gateway to the tarmac I notice all these Beautiful Girls standing in line along the route to the terminal. “Grab yourself a Women one guy shouted” “They’re here for your taking while in Perth”.  That’s not the main reason I came to Australia I said, but a cute brunette caught my eye and as I walk by her I stopped and ask,” You know your away around perth do you? I sure do Sailor, she replied, Then lets go!  We were booked at the Pacific Rim Hotel in Downtown perth and a beautiful place it was. My room was on the 10th floor and I could see the Indian Ocean from my window. her name was Diane and she came up to my room as I checked in and changed to Civilian Clothes. I told her that while I’m here I want to see everything that there is to see and I asked her what kind of arrangements we should have and I would be respectful and courteous to her while she was with me. Dinners would be on me. Diane informed me that $100.00 is usual for a weeks worth of companionship, which I thought was fair, But first, I had to go and buy some warm clothes. It was cold there, well not to the natives, but coming from a place where the average temp. was in the upper 90’s, Perths daily temp. was 65, but sunny, and I was cold.

Well, lets get on with seeing Australia. The next day we rented a car and I allowed her to drive as the steering wheel was on the wrong side for me. We stopped at her apt. for some clothes and then off we went.  She did know her way around Perth and all the trendy places to go and eat and drink. The beaches were Beautiful, White with plenty of Surfers and Swimmers, Food was different but good and I opted for Coke rather than Beer for meals. The Swan River is a wide River that runs thru Perth and plenty of places to rent a boat and see the city from the river. There’s a Desert outside of Perth about a hours drive from the city, full of different rock formations, colored sands.  The city is full of parks, gardens and lots of Nightlife. My time in Perth Australia went fast and before you know-it, it was time to head back to the War.

PLEASE MR. CUSTER…….

It was hard coming back to Vietnam after being in Hong Kong and I was already planning my next R&R.  I had 5 months to go before I finish my tour and had enough time remaining to go some place else. Perth Australia had become available for an R&R destination and that sounded great. So I started to save my money.

Danang had grown from a run down city to a Military metropolis with most of the building being done West of the Air Base. There were paved roads, Electric power plants,PX’s Movie Theaters and all kinds of Military Buildings of which supported our existence over there. A waste of money I always thought and we were aware that things weren’t going that well out in the Battle fields. Our Planning and Estimating Division was more or less becoming a Logistics Division for Material being shipped in to Danang. We were still on a 24/7 schedule but there was a lot of free time and at times daily jobs were boring. The Naval Support Activity Base in Danang was huge Navy Base that brought along with it Military Control. Gone were the fun times between enlisted men and Officers. I was glad I was leaving soon, but first I had to do some recording of my tour here. I purchased a Camera from the new PX they had built and started to photograph places around Danang. Up till now all I had was a 8mm Movie camera that I used in around the city of Danang and took with me to Hong Kong. It was a good Camera but obtaining 8mm film was hard and even harder to get it developed. I use to send my Mom extra money and have her ship me several rolls of film and I would in turn send them back for her to have developed. I never saw what I had taken movies of till I got home from the Service.

Lt. Commander Jack Malera  and I have been over here since the start and even though I respected his Rank, we would some times just sit and talk about everything that was going on.  Several times he would stop by where my desk was and invite me to go for a ride with him in his assigned Navy 1962 Dodge pick-up Truck. We’ed go out to one of the Dams we designed or out to Red Beach and park and look out over the South China Sea.  Lt. did not want to be here, he joined the navy as an Officer, did his thing at Annapolis MY and expected to be in some stateside base along with his Wife and two Kids. He had one more year in his tour over here after I left and was deciding weather to stay in the Navy or go back to Civilian Life. I often think what he decided to do and where he is now. Most of the Officers that first came over in the beginning did not want to be there. The start of the Vietnam Conflict started so fast that Line Officers were taken from their soft plush jobs stateside and thrusted into the Vietnam scene, leaving behind their Navy Officer life and social drama. It was truly a war being run by the White House, The Republicans and the Sec. of State Mcnamara.

One day out of shear bordom I decided to borrow the Division truck and drive down and visit with Tom outside of Danang just to have something to do.  The crew Tom was working with were forming a cement wall over a drainage ditch down by the Danang River. When I arrived Tom called a break and we all sat down by this sandbag emplacement for a smoke and some water. We were there about half an hour when small arms fire started hitting the emplacement we were sitting on. we all rolled over the sandbags and got behind them. Some Marines down from started to return fire and as fast as it began, it was over. Tom stood up and asked if every one was ok?  One Seabee got hit in his shoulder. I said I was OK and then Tom said “Your Bleeding” I said I fell against the metal rods sticking up from the ground behind the sandbags. He said I should go see the Marine Medic down the road. We said our goodbys and I took off to see the medic. I placed some old rags from inside the truck on the seat so I wouldn’t get blood on the seat. When I arrived at the medic, he told me to drop my pants and began to look at my wound. He gave me a shot of something and began to dig around on the side of my Butt, he pulled out a small Russian caliber bullet and handed it to me. Two stitches and I was patched up with a bandage and he said “You’re good to go”. Stop in at the Hospital on China Beach and tell them what happened. They’ll probably want to take a look at that wound too. When I got to the Hospital and checked in at the desk, the officer looked at me and said “You look pretty good for just being shot, follow me. Well the nurse re-cleaned my wound, gave me some salve to apply, took down my information and basically said “Have a good day”.  When I got back to the Division, nobody believed me that I got shot. I showed them my copy of the report, even my best friend Lt. Malera said it probably was self inflicted. I received the Purple Heart 6 months later as I was being separated from the Navy at Great Lakes Naval Training Center.

香港 HONG KONG

Hey remember Charles Thomas Bailey?  Well I ran into him on a Seabee Construction site outside of Danang one day and both of us were excited to see each other. He gave me his Barracks # in camp Tien Shaw and I said I would stop by tonight after ten pm. which I did. We sat outside for about two hours in the dark and talk about what we each had been up to since we got “In Country”. He was making arrangements to go on R&R to  Kong next month and suggested I come along. I told him I would.

Since work here was a 24/7 arrangement  the Government made available one week trips available to service men every 90 days. All that was required was two weeks notice and at least $50.00 bucks in your pocket. Transportation was by Commercial Airlines who volunteered their time, planes and employees. Rooms at various Hotels in the city you signed up for were paid by the Government. Places offered where ,Perth Australia, Kuwalampour Malaysia, Hawaii, Bangkok and Hong Kong. We were booked at the Park Hotel in Hong Kong and it was First Class. I remember when I entered the Hotel thru the revolving doors I had to walk about 50 feet to the Front Desk and in that distance I was Measured for two Suits by different tailors and propositioned by three Ladies for the week stay.(I think they were employees of the Hotel). I opted for the Suit!

Hong Kong lived up to it’s History as a melting pot for Mystery  espionage, and excitement. The Movie “Soldier of Fortune” with Clark Gable was a good interpretation of Hong Kongs Intrigue which seems to be present everywhere one looks.(Maybe my imagination). My plan was to see everything I saw in the Movies and do everything that was shown in the Movies. Tom’s plan was to have a drink in every bar he could find, therefore  we were never together much while in Hong Kong. I rode the Ferry from Hong Kong to Kowloon for a dime, saw ships from all over the world, went to the Temples, the Gardens and even stopped in front of the Red Chinese Embassy and looked at the writings of Mao ta Sung (sp). One day I made the trip up to the Tram that rose from the Harbor up to the top of Victoria Mountain that was in the Movie “Solider of Fortune” bought a ticket and rode it to the top. It started down by landings of Hong Kong of Victoria Harbor  and climbed along several Hanging Gardens, the ruins of old Forts the British had there, shear cliffs of rock and ending up on top of Victoria peak where wonderful Gardens and fancy Restaurants were abundant.

It was while I was up on Victoria’s peak that I met a British Soldier there. he was fascinating to talk to and I’m sure he felt the same way about me as we would ask each other about our lives growing up in different countries and doing things for fun.  He invited me back to his Barracks on Kowloon and we went into their version of Enlisted Mens Pup. He drank a Stout Beer with lemon Juice squeezed in it, and I introduced him to a Beer with Tomato Juice poured in it.  I enjoyed my day with him.

The next day the both of us took the train from Kowloon to the New Territories to see the the country side of China. It was beautiful and at the end of the ride we had to get off as the train continued into the Red Chinese province of Macao, and neither of us had papers allowing us to cross over the border, so we stood there looking into Red China and waved at the Red Chinese guards on the other side of the Double fence and they waved back at us. How neat!

Hong Kong was and still is a Beautiful City. I consumed a lot of Oriental Food and drank a lot of different beers, non of which I liked. American food was available there. You just had to look for it. Tom and I did get together each night we were there thru an agreement to meet in the Penthouse Lounge of the Park Hotel at Midnight to each talk about what the other had done that day. The week went fast there on R&R in Hong Kong and soon it was time to go back to Vietnam with my new suit from Lee Tailors of Hong Kong.

WATER, WATER EVERY WHERE BUT NARY A DROP TO DRINK

Seas were calmer today and the ride into Danang was beautiful. Chief met me at the dock and told me to be polite and respect the rank between Lt. Malera and me.  I reported right away to the Lt. Office and he was eager to get started. We drove out to a remote area North of the Air Base and picked up several marines who would accompany us as we search for water. The area around Danang was mostly secured and only small pockets of resistance were reported and usually taken care of by the small units of Marines assigned for security around Danang. We spent the whole day driving around the foothills surrounding Danang and did come across some good sources of fresh water. One was an old french Dam that had been destroyed and the water allowed to run out. I suggested to the Lt. that with several bags of Quikrete and a length of 12″ pipe we could restore the Dam and use it for a source of water for the East side of Danang. I was to draw it up, submit a material list and a cost estimate to him by weeks end. Which I did. I went on to design four other makeshift Dams and design a water system to feed all of Danang, of course submitting them all to the Admiral for approval. I still have the Maps and drawings of all the water piping around Danang. I was becoming quite well known around the Public Works Division of the Naval Support Activity as the “Water Man” and it got me a new rating as Chief Petty Officer. For the next 2+ years I designed and submitted plans and costs for many  Naval projects as well as being an Logistics person when it came to acquiring building supplies. I would go out to projected sites for updates on time estimates and material arrivals. I would even fly out to Subic Bay in the Philippines to the huge Navy stockpile yards to locate items for shipment back to Vietnam. All in all, it was a good tour of duty I fell into. Everyday more and more Seabees started to arrive and some even assigned to our Division. We grew from only 8 of us to a healthy 24 planners and estimators and even some draftsmen . Lt. Malera was now a Lt. Commander and would still come out to our building and chat with me about plans coming up. We were no longer in the Garage, but had our own Butler Building out by the Airbase. I had my own work area, a Third Class Petty Officer to work with me and I was to teach as my time over here was getting short. We had two South Korean soldiers who we used to draw up plans and let them do some small cost estimating. Indeed my time here was getting short. It’s May again and my tour of duty in Vietnam would end in October but there was one more thing I wanted to do before I left. Go on R&R to Hong Kong!

VICTORY AT SEA

Talk about the ship is that it’s a light rain topside and rough seas, best to have your poncho on when you topside.  “Surely they’re not going to allow us to travel over to the docks in this weather”  Wrong!  Instead of walking down the side ladder to get on board the Mike Boat, they had a cargo net strung over the side and we are to climb down the net into the boat! I’ve seen this in movies and thought it looked easy, I found out it’s not!  As I looked over the side, I could see our boat bobbing up and down, side to side, I watched as sailor after sailor tried to get into the boat and failed. Some falling into the boat, some getting their feet tangled in the net. People were yelling to let hte boat come up to you on the net, let go  and step back into the boat. Looked simple enough, and I studied the situation  I could see it works  Then they call up our boat, Danang Docks. I climbed over the railing and grabbed the net and started lowering my self down into the boat. I looked down at the boat rising and falling in the water and judged just about where the boat had it’s highest rise on the net and stopped there and waited for the boat to come up. As soon as it got to the highest point, I had my feet on the section of netting that touched the bottom of the boat. I let go and stepped away from the net. I did it. I stood there in the boat away from the net and watched as other guys tried to do the same thing. all in all , only a few misshaps and we were under way. The sea was rough and we bobbed and rolled and rocked for half an hour to we got into the river where the docks were.  The Chief was there waiting for me and said “Rough trip uh kid?” I told him I’m going to figure out some way to make that into an Amusement Park ride, sell tickets and make a fortune  Little did I know that the trip back tonight was going to be even more of a challenge.

Being here now almost a month I’m learning about what the plan is and who’s all here and who’s coming  There’s about 400 Seabees coming on board each week to build roads and remodel and bring up to Military specifications several old French barracks and camps for future Marine Divisions. The scuttlebutt is that the Third Marine Division is scheduled to land  along with other military personnel schedule to begin an offensive here in the I core area of Vietnam. In the meantime along with bringing old French establishments up to specs, There is a lot of new buildings and infrastructures that have to be planned and built. That’s where I come in. A whole slew of Captains and admirals both from the Navy and the Marine Corps. would come into our little office (Garage) and submit a request for everything from a outhouse to a building complete with running water and plumbing. Water! Water being what’s in least supply. One of the things I’m involved in is finding water.

Lt. Malera called me over to his office one day and we sat down with a whole bunch of Photographs of the area around us and said  “We’re going to find some sources of Potable water that we can distribute around this valley to all the different Military bases.”  After about 6 hours we marked out some possible areas of freshwater and making a request for Military support we were ready to check out these areas starting tomorrow Morning. Now it was about time to head back to the U.S. Baxr.

Now the Seas are still rough and once we cleared the river and got out into the harbor we really saw how rough they were. We bobbed like a cork in a Hurricane and forward progress in getting to the ship was hampered by a head-on wind. We did finally get there only to be slammed against the hull constantly as they tried to lower the net over the side and into our boat. Sameo sameo, when the boat comes up from a wave, grab onto the net and as the boat falls with the wave, you start climbing as fast as you can before the boat comes back up, but now I have this huge duffle bag of clean laundry wrapped around my wrist and it’s hitting me in the face as I reached up for to grab another rope in the net.  I made it!  Luckily we only had one more instance of rough weather before we got land base barracks.

VIETNAM

It was hot when we landed in Danang Vietnam in July! Very Hot! The Airport there reminded me of a scene from a world war Two movie set, dirty, run down primitive looking. We sat around with our Sea Bags waiting for something to happen.

Arrival

 

Not too many Military personnel around, mostly South Vietnam Soldiers. Up pulls this truck and we told to hop on board. We drove for about hour through run down villages and then into Danang itself. The smell was  terrible everyone wore these triangular hats made of straw.

My Billet

We pulled up to this white building on one of the main streets in town that looked like a Southern Mansion.  It was here that we were assigned Departments that we were to be working in. I was assigned to the Planning and Estimating Division. I was given my packet of orders and told to report to the P&E Division around back. It was a Garage converted into and office of three rooms, three windows, and one door. The Chief at the door read my packet, said “OK” and pointed to the room in the back and said, ” That’s your desk back there, Welcome Aboard”. A few minutes later he came back and told me that we wear Greens here, work starts at 0800 every morning and goes to 2000 hours.  I was to report to the docks at Danang Harbor and board the landing craft that was going to APA 227. They would assign me a bunk on board the ship and give me a schedule of boats times returning in the morning and he would pick me up at the pier every morning at 0745.

APA 227 was a WW2 amphibious personnel carrier that was anchored in the Harbor to Billet personnel stationed in Danang. It was about 1/2 mile off shore and the boat ride was about a 1/2 hour ride once fully filled. On the way out to the Ship, I studied up on Ship protocol and what to do and say on board, what life is like on board a ship of the US NAVY.

The reason why I was Billeted on board a Transport Ship was there was no land based Billeting for  arriving personnel.  This was all brand new here and any available houses or buildings were being used for Officers and foreign contractors who were in the process of building roads, bridges and barracks for us. The Air Force had a large amount of personnel and its own contractors rebuilding the Airport and it’s infrastructure. There were contractors dredging the Harbor deeper and building a deep water docks to accommodate large transport ships and huge off-loading facilities. Anyway, back to boarding the APA 227, U.S. Baxr (Bear) After we pulled alongside this huge ship, secured the Mike Boat, I climbed the ladder up to the Quarter Deck, Saluted the Officer on deck, turned to the stern of the ship and saluted the Flag, ask permission to come aboard. I was told to proceed down the passageway to the transient assignment officer who gave me my bunk assignment and directions on how to find it. I kept thinking back to when I was in Davisville R.I. at Quonset Point and was told I’d probably never see any assignment to a Navy Ship.  I found my bunk down in the bowels of this ship after numerous false turns and several trips up and down ladders all while still carrying my Seabag of some 45lbs. There it was, a room full of hanging hammock type beds stung from the ceiling to the deck with heavy chain My bunk was the third from the floor and to get into it I had to climb on the two lower bunks just to get into mine. I had a locker against the bulkhead which I stowed my gear and locked with a padlock I was given when I received my Seabag. I asked around and found the Mess Hall and had myself a good hot meal. I was starved!  Life on board a navy Ship was sure different than what I was expecting and it took me several days to get accustomed to it. Getting use to all the “Now here this” announcements   and taking showers and bathroom (Head) arrangements  I was almost becoming a Sailor. The getting up at 0530 each morning, 7 days a week, having breakfast in the Mess hall, standing on deck waiting for my transportation to Danang public docks, climbing down the ladder into the boat and the 45 minute ride from the ship to the docks was becoming common place in my new Sailors experience.

Boat Ride

I had this canvas bag with a pull tie that I would put my laundry in the needed to be washed and folded and took it to work with me a couple of times a week and this Vietnamese man would pick it up at work and delivered it the next day washed, pressed and folded for about $2.00 American money. Everyone used him and were quite pleased with his work. Life living aboard ship was becoming a breeze.

Holly Shit!!!!  One morning I awoke to find myself swinging in my bunk.

CALIFORNIA DREAMING

Bob Saki and I took off from Little Creek Virginia about 4:00 PM that afternoon and drove non stop to Coronado Ca. arriving there about noon 4 days later. Are trip was uneventful  except for being pulled over for speeding in Arizona at 2:00 o’clock in the morning. It was a barren stretch of road in the Desert, two lane and nobody else was on the road. So pushed the Corvette up to 100 mph and was just cruising along as smooth as could be when I notice a flashing Red light in the distance behind me. I slowly brought the car down to about 65 mph and waited for the flashing lights to catch up to me. I pulled over and shut the engine off and waited for the Officer to approach me. He strutted over to me, shone his flashlight into the car and saw Bob and I, two duffed bags in the back and saw that we were two sailors. “Where you headed he ask”? I told him we left Virginia two days ago and had to be in Coronado Ca. by Wednesday. He said,” Son, I had you down for doing 105 mph  The speed limit is 70″. He began to tell me of the consequences of going so fast in the Desert and what would have happened if I hit a Jack Rabbit doing 100 mph and the result to us and the car that they wouldn’t have found us for days as the debris would have been scattered way off the Highway in the Sagebrush. I was really getting an Ass Chewing and was waiting to get a Ticket or worse, Hauled off to Jail. He looked me right in the eyes and said,”Slow down, and be careful” , and walked away from the car and drove off. As we continued on our way I thought about what he said, and It scared me! I didn’t speed again on our way to California.

In Coronado we were stationed at the Naval Amphibious Base just South of Coronado on the Silver Strand Beach area. A Beautiful area, Sun, Surf, and the beautiful pacific ocean.  I would be here for 6 Months learning how the Navy does things and going to school to become a Project Officer in the Naval Construction Division of the U.S.Navy.

On my first weekend Pass I headed up to Los Angles to find Douglas Marini. I knew he lived in Anaheim Ca. I had his Address so I drove into Anaheim  found a Telephone and started thru the book looking for Joseph Marini (His Dad). There he was! I called and Doug’s Mom answer and I told them who I was and she was elated.  She gave me directions from were I was to their House.  After 10 years were back together again. From then on, every time I was able to secure a weekend pass, I was up at Douglas’s. After that, I never saw or heard from Doug again. My attempts to find him have been futile, until now, with the help of my Daughter Alisa, we located Douglas and I’m busy now catching up on the last 47 years.

School was interesting! I learned Construction policies, how to do Logistics, Planning and Estimating but more important was how to get around all the Red Tape that either slowed or stopped projects in the field. I n knew that I would possibly be sent to Vietnam as that’s all one heard about on the news and scuttlebutt that was ever present in day to day conversations.  I also learned why myself and other construction workers were being drafted into the Navy. After WW 2, the construction Division of the Navy was left to dwindle down to just one Battalion. Even during the Korean War, not much was done on the Building of Bases as every thing came from and was shipped from Japan.  Vietnam posed a problem as first, it was a country with no infrastructural  no roads no large buildings to house a Military base and most of what they had was destroyed by the French when they pulled out of Vietnam in the 50’s. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

After completing my schooling in California I was given orders to report to Kadina Naval Station in Okinawa, Japan to meet up with a Admiral Mc Clearan who was in charge of developing a Naval Support Base in the city of Danang Vietnam.  After flying for God knows how long, I landed in Guam, and was allowed to get off the plane and stretch my legs for about 4 Hours. It felt good. It was here I met a few other guys who also received orders to report to the same Admiral. Then we off to Okinawa.

The Admiral was an older gentleman and had a staff of about 20 Officers who broke into groups and started to call out our names and were assigned to different divisions. The Division I was assigned to was the Planning and Estimating Division headed up by a Lieutenant Jack Malera and we got along very well as I’ll explain in a later Blog.  There were 8 of us  in our Division, one from each Rating in the Seabee group. ex. Piping, Carpentry, electrical, and we were going to build a Naval Support Group in Vietnam.

YOU’RE IN THE NAVY NOW

Charles Thomas Bailey was what you would call a good old Country Boy  He prefered to be called Tom which I did. He came from a town down in South Central Illinois call Pawnee, just south of Springfield. Tom was a Carpenter by trade and this was all new to him also. On our flight to Boston they feed us a meal which consisted of Chicken Breast and Leg. I mentioned that this was an awful small Chicken they served us and Tom replied, ” well what do you expect for a Chicken grown on a Airplane”! After landing in Boston we had to report to the Navy desk there in the Airport and they gave us tickets for the bus ride up to Quonset point ( Davisville) Naval Base in Rhode Island. Arriving there about 10:00PM. that night we checked in at the gate and were told to bunk down in the Transit Barracks and someone would come and get us in the Morning.

Morning? it’s dark outside when this person came walking thru the Barracks banging on the beds telling us to get up, dressed and be at the Base Reporting Office in 30 Min. Well we reported in and after about 4 hours of getting our Hair Cut, receiving Navy Clothing and talked to like we were stupid. We were walked over to the Mess Hall for some lunch. We were starved!  We were assigned a Billet to stay in and sleep and given a locker to put are new clothes in and told to wait, that someone would come and get us. All in all, there were about 12 of us from all over the country, and enjoyed talking to the others and where they were from and what they did. I knew from talking to my Brother that the Military was very fussy about how you kept your locker and bed looking so I tried my best to make my things look organized and neat.

Around 4:PM. a Lieutenant introduce himself to us and explained what was going to happen over the course of the next 6 weeks.  We were taught to handle Firearms, March, and to wash and fold our clothes just the right way and place them in a special way in our locker.  We filled out more forms, questionnaires and applications that had to do with how much of our base pay would be sent home and how much you would keep. While we were in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, we had a chance to visit a few places nearby in the New England area on Weekend Passes. Before we finished our basic training , we were taken down to Newport R.I. for Fire Training on board ship, although we were told that probably none of us would ever be on board a ship.

I was given two weeks leave after Training and I returned home to my Mom before I was to Travel to Little Creek Virginia for more training. It was during this time that the Airlines went on strike and nothing was flying, so I had to take my Corvette and drive to Virginia by my self. After I arrived there and checked in I was told I’d have to leave my car in the Post Parking Facility and could use it till I was finished with my training. The Training consisted of how to survive and Military Code in Combat. This lasted about 4 weeks. During our training 4 of us Sailors were sent down to Gulf port Miss. to observe some equipment and how it worked as we would be assembling like items later on. We were also tought how to use the “Critical Path Method”  of Construction during Less then Favorable conditions. After our return to Little Creek, we were given orders to report to Coronado Calif. in six days.  But there’s a Airline Strike on!  “Well you better leave now” I was told. California here I come!

I picked up my car and was headed out the gate where about 20 guys I was in training with were all standing outside the gate with there Hitchhiking thumbs a waving. “Where you going ” they asked I said” Coronado California” I said. Only one Sailor was going to the same place so I said :get in” and another adventure began. It took us 4 days to get from Little Creek Virginia to Coronado California with a sack of McDonald’s Hamburgers in the back window (to keep them warm). I have a few stories to tell about driving across America, but I’ll save those for a later Blog.

HI, I’M YOUR UNCLE SAM.

I was Twenty Two now and had a good paying job. I had enough money saved and I wanted a new car. Why I bought a new Corvette I’ll never know. It was fast and cool. Gas was getting expensive lately (23 Cents a Gallon) and there were a lot of places I couldn’t take it. Like Apprentice School, (31St. and Kedzie), Jobs in places you wouldn’t want to park it all day on a busy street.  I would use my moms car and she would drive mine. What a sight to see an old Grey Haired woman driving a sports car. I dated a lot of girls that I would meet in Bars and clubs from as far away as Aurora Il.  and as close as Westmont Il. I never got serious with any of them as I couldn’t afford to change my lifestyle. I did have one that I liked a lot and she wasn’t in any hurry to make any changes either.   Her name was Jeanne Schuster and she was a transplant from Hanover Il. Out by the Mississippi River.  She worked Downtown at Borders Books in the loop as a Secretary there.   We would double date with a few of her friends as well as a few of mine and it was left at that.

Then one day in January I got this letter from my Uncle Sam wanting me to join him in some required Service to our Country.   You could hear the brakes Squealing as my life came to a stop  I had 90 days to get my shit in order before turning myself into the Army.  I didn’t want to go into the Army, I always consider myself as a Navy person.   So I made a trip down to Navy Recruiter and had a nice,  comforting talk with him.  I explained to him my situation with going to Apprenticeship school to become a Pipefitter, Supporting my Mom that I would rather be a Sailor.  I told him I had two more years to go before I was a Journeyman Pipefitter and took a chance  that I wouldn’t be called up till that time. I didn’t want to take a deferment as that one  with time.eligible for the draft till 25.  I wasn’t shirking my obligation to serve in the Armed forces but I was gambling on the time element. He sent me home and wanted to see a letter from my employer as to my status and work ethics, what we had in expenses (Mom and I) and debt.

I return the next week and gave him the papers he wanted, The letter from my Employer was sealed so I never got a chance to read it. He had his Superior( Lt. Commander) sit in with us and after reading and looking at the papers I brought in, they offered me a package I couldn’t refuse.  If I went down to the induction center in Chicago and took the exam they gave and my evaluation was good, I could defer active duty for two years, commit to the U.S.Navy as a Construction Warrant Officer and sign up for 6 years active duty and 4 years reserve.  I agreed! You know me now don’t you. I love an adventure.  Well right after I graduated from Pipefitter Apprentice School, Mom and I sold our house and made arrangements for her to move in with my Sister and I got ready to join the Navy. I had to report down to the Induction center on Monday the 15TH. of May and it was Snowing. 4 Inches we got, and the Navy wanted me to take the Exam again which I did, and about 50 of  us  guys  stood up and pledged our allegiance to the Armed Forces of America. There were two of us going into the Navy that day, Charles  Thomas  Bailey and myself.  We sat around for better part of the day there, they served us a lunch, and about 2:00 PM, they shuffled us of to the Airport to get on Plane to Boston, then by Bus to a place called Quonset Point Rhode Island to start our Enlistment. neither one of us had ever been on a Plane before and for that matter, never been out of Illinois. WOW, another Adventure!

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