Went to boot camp in Orlando, FL. September 1974, finished boot camp November 1974, received orders to the USS Constellation CVA – 64, took a couple of weeks leave, then reported to my 1st ship in San Diego, California at North Island Naval station.
It was very late in the evening when I checked on board; the ship had just returned from Tonkin Gulf after a long deployment, as you know, only the duty section is onboard! The messenger of the watch escorted me to an empty berthing somewhere deep in the ship. As anyone would be my first time away from home as an 18-year-old Navy boot, I was overwhelmed by the size of this massive ship. There was no one around to show me the ropes. It took a week to finally find the aft mess decks, import the fwd mess deck is closed!
Anyway, I was assigned to the fwd fire room. One of my first assignments was to learn the main steam system! Wow, where do I start, there were so many steam lines running in every different direction. After a few weeks of learning the system, my LPO one day asked me if I wanted to be transferred to the Catapult steam shop beside the plat lens shop just below the flight deck. I replied yes, sir!
Got to watch the phantoms, tomcats, and all of the other aircraft take off! We had to keep the Steam receivers pumped up, and when they were not flying, we had to take Elong readings on Catapults every hour. I thought to myself, what a cool job after a 14-month overhaul in Bremerton, Washington.
We went on sea trials, and back to San Diego, after a few months, we had to go to Long Beach dry dock to correct some repairs that were done in Bremerton! Went back to San Diego to do workups prior to deployment to the South Pacific and our home port away from home. Good ole Subic bay!
After a few port calls, my time was up, so I flew back stateside to be discharged and go home! After 18 months of civilian life and the recruiters bugging me to re-enlist, I went to refitting at Orlando and got orders to the Mayport cruiser, the USS Dale CG-19. For the next two years, we made a northern Atlantic cruise, a Mediterranean cruise, and several short stints to the Caribbean, including good old Guantanamo Bay!
I re-enlisted and got a 20,000 dollar bonus, in 1982 reported to the USS Simon Lake As-33. I got sent to Squadron 16 to do maintenance on the APL, neutral duty, they told me!
In 1984, I received orders back to Mayport to the USS Edward McDonnell FF1043, made several trips back to the Caribbean to do tas exercises, and checked on the Russian ship leaving Cuba! I deployed to the Mediterranean again, and as fate would have it, one of the Superchargers in the fire room developed a major oil leak and had to be replaced pier side In Naples, Italy.
By this time in my career, I decided to do something different, I reenlisted under the Score conversion program to become a Hull Technician, flew home for a day, then off to Philadelphia to HT- A School for three months and was sent to class c school for welding at 32nd street in San Diego California for three months!
Got orders to SIMA Mayport assigned to the weld shop! Did a lot of high-pressure piping systems and water-tight doors. I left there in 1988 and walked across the pier to The USS YOSEMITE AD-19 for the next 5 1/2 years with 2 Med cruises and a trip to the Gulf for Desert Storm!
In 1993, I got my last set of orders in the Navy back to SIMA, and three years later, I retired from the NAVY as a Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class (SW) some things are missing from this, but this sums up my career, 5 ships, two shore commands, out of 22 years I had 11 years eight months and 20 days sea time!