I enlisted in the Navy at the young age of 17. My goal was to see the world before my 25th Birthday and I was reasonably successful. I went through Basic Training at NTC San Diego in the spring of 1955. Upon completion of Basic Training, I attended Class "P" school in Norman Oklahoma. From there it was on the Class "A" School in Jacksonville, Florida. A ninety day detour sent me to Mess Duty. I completed "A" School at the top of my class in May of 1956 and was ordered to report to VS-37, NAS North Island. The Squadron had transitioned to S2F Trackers only months before. Shortly after arrival, I was promoted to AE3. In October of 1956, We boarded the USS Philippine Sea for Carrier Qualifications. Only two weeks into "Quals", The "Phil Sea" was ordered to take on all Squadron personnel and steamed to Pearl Harbor.This was the Suez Crisis. For the next eight weeks, we cruised Hawaiian waters looking for Russian Submarines. We returned to San Diego on 15 December for Christmas. The first week on January,1957, the "Phil Sea" returned to San Diego, took on all Squadron personnel and equipment and once more departed for Hawaiian waters.During the ensuing eight months, we visited ports in Okinawa, Japan and Hong Kong. We returned to San Diego in August of 1957, where upon the Squadron was relocated to NAS Los Alamitos. In November, my orders came through to report to ATU 206, Sherman Field, NAS Pensacola, Florida. As the senior Petty Officer in the Electrical Shop, I had the responsibility of maintaining the Squadron's training aircraft, at that time, F9F Cougars. As a kid, I had been a huge fan of the Navy Blue Angels and was extremely pleased to learn they shared the same hangar with my new Squadron. During my stay at Sherman Field, I met and made friends with many of the Blue Angels Pilots and Maintenance Crew. My tenure at Sherman Field ended when I was transferred to NAS Whiting Field. On arrival at NAS Whiting Field, I was assigned duties as the Senior Lead Petty Officer at "North Field". The duty was hard and had many risks. I lost a very good friend who was an Instructor due to a terrible accident involving his plane and one other. The loss; three men and two airplanes. With the loss of Ten men and seven aircraft over a six month period, I can honestly say that 1958 was not a great year. My enlistment was up in January, 1959 and I was told that if I re-enlisted, my tour at Whiting Field would be extended. Rather than spend another year or two at Whiting Field, I decided to take my discharge, as did many others in that Training Command. I have often wondered what my life would have been like had I decided to re-enlist. I went on to spend the next twenty years in the Aerospace industry including 3 years with NASA on the Apollo Space program.I had the good fortune to meet and make friends with many of the original Mercury Astronauts as well as the Apollo Astronauts. Subsequent to my tour with NASA, I went back in the private Aerospace sector developing top secret weapons systems; one of which was the original "Tomahawk" missile. - END
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