.I enlisted in the United States Navy in Chicago. After being sworn on 24 May 1964..I was sent to boot camp in California,..Seaman Recruit E-1. I completed boot camp in San Diego. Leaving as Fireman Apprentice. F.A. E-2. I was sent to my first ship the USS Bennington CVS 20, homeport in Long Beach , California. I served on her for 8 months. During that time I spent 3 months mess cooking and was assigned to E-Division (E-Electrical) working in the A and O shop. My duties were the repair and maintenance of the ships aircraft and ordinance elevators. During this time the ship was involved in rescue operations for flood victims off the coast of Eureka, California. We were taking some heavy waves.,due to the storms and were rolling quite a bit. One night one of the crew was tossed from his rack and received a broken leg. After that incident the Captain weighed anchor and steamed in circles until our mission was completed. During that deployment one of the helicopters crashed during rescue operations. More information at the links below.
We then returned to Long Beach. From there I was sent to San Diego. Where I completed a 36- week Electricians Mate "A" School. Leaving as Electricians Mate Fireman Apprentice.EMFA. I was ordered to the USS John W. Weeks, homeport in Norfolk, Virginia. I was assigned to E-Division were my duties were the repair and maintenance of the ships electrical generation and distribution systems. And all electrically operated equipment. While on the Weeks I spent a lot of time in Key West, Florida, the Caribbean and the east coast of the United States. In August of 1965 the Weeks was a part of the recovery team for Gemini 5. We recovered a part of the Gemini 5 launch vehicle in the waters off the island of Bermuda.
It was on that cruise that I was advanced to Electricians Mate EMFN E-3. After an extended period in Norfolk we were sent to Key West to provide Fleet Sonar School service. It was on that cruise that I was involved in being a part of a 3 man team who swam out to attach a tow collar on fired test torpedos.So they could be brought back to the ship and be re-used for training. One time I remember very well. While being on one of these assignments of attaching a tow collar I heard rapid gunfire. Turned out that there were sharks in the area and the men aboard ship were firing to drive them away until, my two buddies and I were safely back aboard ship. While being assigned to the Fleet Sonar School the sonar transducer had become defective and we had to steam up the east coast to the Boston Naval Shipyard to a floating dry dock to have the transducer replaced. Then back to Key West. While on this cruise I was fortunate to spend about a week on a submarine.Observing electrical maintenace and emergency procedures.
The next operation I was involved in was a 3 month Northern European Cruise. We departed Norfolk, in May of 1966 and crossed th North Atlantic in 16 days. Our first port of call was Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Followed by Laharve, France were there was a side trip to Paris. Then back to Germany were we stopped in Hamburg,.with a trip to West Berlin. On to Thurso, Scotland,Copenhagen,Denmark, Halmstad, Sweden. Then back to Scotland were Aberdeen was our home port. And finally Londonderry,Ireland. Which was our last stop before departing for Norfolk on 24 August 1966. We arrived in Norfolk on 2 September 1966. It was during this cruise that I was advanced to Electricians Mate 3rd Class E-4.
The first part of 1967 we were on Anti-Submarine exercises in southern Florida. Again attached to the Fleet Sonar School. During that Deployment we made stops in Miami,Ft. Lauderdale and Key West. And then moving into the Caribbean. Our ports of call were San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. Martin. It was on that cruise that I able to spend about a week on a submarine again. Observing electrical emergency and maintenance procedures. We returned to Norfolk in May of 1967.
After a short maintenance period. On 5 July 1967 we were underway again. This time for a 8 month Middle East Cruise. Our ports of call were San Juan, Puerto Rico, Port of Spain Trinidad and Recife, Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean. While crossing the Atlantic on the way to Monrovia, Liberia which is on the Northwestern Coast of the continent of Africa. I crossed what is called zero, zero.0 Longitude and 0 Latitude the center of the world. And after an elaborate initiation ceremoney I became a Golden Shellback. It was during that crossing the the results of the advancement exams were released and I was advanced to Electricians Mate 2nd Class E-5. After extending my enlistment for 3 months. After this came Luanda, Angola and then around the Cape Of Good Hope to Diego Suarez, Madagascar. Proceeding to the Red Sea ports of Assab and Massawa. After this we made our way to our temporary home port, Bahrain Island a Sheikdom in the Persian Gulf. Other ports visited were Karachi, Pakistan, Djibouti,French Somaliland, Mogadiscio, Somali Republic, Mombassa, Kenya. While in Mombassa I was able to go on a camera Safari at the site of the filming of movie Hatari. And finally the port of Diego Suarez for the final stop until Norfolk. We arrived in Norfolk 31 December 1967. While being assigned to the Weeks I was Hi-Lined and lifted by helicopter to a number of ships to observe electrical maintenance and emergency procedures.
The remainder of my active sea duty was on the Weeks. I was discharged from active duty on 28 August 1968. I returned to Chicago. Where I served as an Instructor I the United States Navy Reserve located at Navy Pier. On 24 August 1970. I received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Navy. I was awarded the National Defence and Good Conduct medals for my 6 years 3 months service in the United States Navy.