Every now and then, I reflect on my years in the Navy. I spent eight years on active duty in Uncle Sam's Canoe Club having joined up when I was seventeen while still in high school. I actually went to boot camp at Great Lakes between my Junior and Senior high school years.
The Navy was an enormous influence on who, and what, I am. After boot camp, the Navy told me that I was a smart kid and as a result of my test scores I could do anything that I wanted. I wanted to fly jets but two years of college were required back the to be an Aviation Cadet and as a high school senior,I didn't qualify. The next best thing seemed to be Guided Missile School, so off I went to GMS outside of Virginia Beach. After Basic Guidedmissileman "A" School, off I went to Terrier SAM School at the General Dynamics plant in Pomona where they were built.
Two years at the Navel Ammunition Depot in Crane Indiana where I reenlisted for six years into the Regular Navy and off I went Advanced Missile Technician "B" School at Mare Island in Vallejo.
Next I and my new bride were transfered to San Diego to serve on the USS Constellation a new supercarrier. I didn't much care for life on an aircraft carrier and fortunately after six months, I was transfered to new ship construction at Todd Shipyard on Harbor Island in Seattle. We commissioned our new Guidedmissile Destroyer the USS Waddell and charged around Puget Sound for two months shaking her down and wringing her out.
On Halloween of 64, we pulled into Long Beach which would be our homeport for the next four years. It truly was love at first sight. After Cleveland and Norfolk and Southern Indiana, I was finally home, and after forty seven years, I'm still here.
My ship has been de-comissioned, leased to the Greek navy, de-comissioned again by the Greeks and sunk by a French Exocet, but I still favor the twenty-four hour clock, using 15 February in lieu of February 15 and tend to also favor Peacoats, Kakis, and other military type garb. After two tours to Nam and six crossings of the Pacific, the lure and the lore of the Sea is too deep to deny.
I say all of this because I truly believe that the Navy and it's men are at the top of the military food-chain. The Marines are, in fact, better trained and way more Gung Ho but they tend to be not the brightest individuals that you will ever meet. I just don't get the Army but I guess somebody has to crawl through mud and get shot at. The Air Force seems to get high quality guys, but it can hardly be called a military organization. And the Coast Guard? It's not even DOD.