I joined the Navy in 1968 sort of involuntarily. I was attending college and had applied for and received a full NROTC scholarship to start in my second year. However, entering my second year I decided I'd much rather party than study and I flunked out. Being under contract with the Navy, I had to enlist when I left school.
I enlisted in March of 1968, selected Machinist's Mate as my rating and was offered A-School after boot camp at the Great Lakes. After school, I received orders to the Putnam and reported on board in August of 1968. We made a GITMO cruise before the year's end and my first Med. cruise the following January.
I reported on board as an MMFA and seemed to have pretty good luck on exams. I made MM1 before leaving the Putnam when she was decommissioned in '73 and was Main Control's work center supervisor as well as M Division's LPO.
When the Putnam was decommissioned, I cross-decked to the USS William C. Lawe (DD-763). The Lawe relieved the Putnam as the reserve trainer in New Orleans just as the Putnam had replaced the Hyman late in 1969. I was only on board the Lawe a short time as I applied for and was accepted into ADCOP (Associates Degree Completion Program) and attended Del Mar college in Corpus Christi for 11 months. Since I had enlisted with several college credits already I was able to complete my 2 year degree in a short period and thus, when it came time to transfer after college, I was still eligible for shore duty and I as transferred to COMNAVAIRLANT's FMAG out of Norfolk.
I spent a few months working at FMAG when AIRLANT came looking for someone to handle technical paperwork in the Maintenance Office at AIRLANT's headquarters. I was nominated and got the job. When it came time for the CPO exams, I took the test and passed but came back 'Selection Board ineligible' because of time in service. One of the other Chiefs recommended I apply for a waiver and constructive time because I had enlisted as a E-2. I did and I got it! I was selected to become an MMC and I put it on at 7 years and 8 months... a single hash mark Chief!
Shortly thereafter I applied for the LDO (Limited Duty Officer) program and was accepted. It turns out that the ADCOP program, which was dropped 2 classes after I entered the program, was the primary source for LDOs and the primary reason I was selected. So, I was commissioned an Ensign (yuck!) in 1977, attended MPA school in Rhode Island and then reported on board the USS Biddle (CG-34) in July of 1977 (the day they pulled out on my second Med. cruise!) I also made my third and last Med. cruise on Biddle just before we went into the yards.
I was the Engineering Material Officer for my first 18 months on the Biddle and became MPA when the previous holder of that position left the ship. I moved up to LtJG and LT while on board. When the Biddle went into Philadelphia for overhaul in 1980, I went with her and was soon transferred to shore duty there in Philly. While there, I was the superintendent for part of Biddle's overhaul and a major overhaul of the USS Tattnal (DDG-19). When it came time to go back to sea, I was talking to my detailer and told him I'd take anything in Jacksonville or Norfolk except an aircraft carrier. He said 'are you sure?' which of course made me curious as to why he would say such a thing. He said the USS Forrestal (CV-59) had a position opening up on it and... she was coming to Philly for SLEP (Service Life Extension Program) and would be there for 2 and 1/2 years! I jumped at it! This was like getting another 2.5 years of shore duty!
I was the Auxiliaries Officer my entire time on Forrestal.
When Forrestal finished up SLEP she moved to Jacksonville and after 6 months or 'real' sea duty, I went back to shore duty and managed to land a Ship Superintendent job at SupShipJax out of Mayport. I was the liason between the civilian shipyards doing repairs to and the crew's of the USS Forrestal and USS Saratoga (CV-60).
For my last 2 years at SupShips, I became the Automated Data Processing officer since they had no one else to do something with all the computers that came in almost unannouced. I had shown an interest in this area and was given the task of setting up our system with little more guidance than 'do it'. I installed a local area network, wrote a few programs for which I received a cash award and essentially turned a hobby and outside interest into a new career. Great timing!
I retired in June of 1988 and went to work for a mortgage banking software company shortly thereafter. I am still with them today, going on 18 years at this writing, here in Jacksonville, and am an SVP and Chief Development Officer. I also manage a couple of websites for hobby industry related companies and have my own website that can be 'surfed' by clicking here...
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