AMCS John J. Babstock U.S. Navy (Ret) (1984-2009)
Read the service reflections of US Navy Sailor:
AMCS John J. Babstock
U.S. Navy (Ret)
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PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE NAVY?
To me, my Naval career started when I was a kid, listening to my grandfather’s sea stories. My grandfather was a GM during WW II; and served as a member of the armed guard on freighters & tankers. He told me stories of his convoy duties, like fishing with hand grenades in the Pacific or sailing the North Atlantic in the winter. Those of us that have done that; know how much fun that can be!
One of the many benefits of growing up in New England; is the rich naval history that is preserved up and down the coast. One of the places he brought me; was Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA. We would walk around the USS Massachusetts (BB-59) along with the other ships. He would tell me about the guns, how to operate them and how to do PM on them.
Using boats on the river or planes flying by, he would show me how to aim at them. He told me that shooting down a maneuvering A/C like a zero was not easy. But once they picked a ship to attack it got easier, because they stayed in a straight line for a while, especially if they got tunnel vision. I would have never guessed, that over 40 years later in the Persian Gulf, I would use what he taught me. I really enjoyed those tours, it was great having my own personnel tour guide. He took me to see the movie Midway when it came out. He bought me my 1st peacoat, it doesn’t fit me anymore, but I still have it. So it seemed only natural that I would join the world’s greatest NAVY! He died 3 yrs before I could enlist.
In 1982 my buddies & I were hanging out at the USMC recruiting office and they showed us a tape of flight deck ops during the Vietnam War. I said I wanted to do that & work on F-4’s. Gunny Cherry said, Okay”, and he walked me to the Navy office. He told the PO1 that was sitting at the desk to make it happen or he would kill him. The PO1 said, “Yes Gunny”, and that was it!
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
Up until I watched that flight deck video at the USMC recruiting office, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in the Navy. I just wanted to go to sea. But once I saw that video, I knew I wanted to work on the F-4’s on the roof.
So it was off to AMH school, there was 1 set of orders for F-4’s on the Midway. The guy ahead of me took those orders, he wanted to go to Japan. So then it was off to F/A-18 school in Lemoore, then to VFA-106 at Cecil Field.
After my 2nd enlistment and learning how fouled up the Chief’s Mess can really be, I decided to get out. I enlisted in the Reserves and stayed a brown shoe. I started out working in AIMD at NAS South Weymouth for 4 yrs. I then transferred to C-130’s for 10 yrs. The Herc community is a great community to be a part of.
In 2003 I was de-mobing in Norfolk and I was put in with a group of sailors that were from a boat unit. We started talking and they said they needed a Chief. They asked if I would come down and see what they were all about, so I did, I walked around the spaces at the New Haven, CT Reserve Center and I the talked with the CO & XO. They asked if I liked what I saw, I said yes and they asked when I could start. They didn’t care about the fact that I was a brown shoe and how they were going to work the billet problem.
Walking that transfer chit up the chain was an experience. I was asked more than once if this was a joke and “What the hell is IBU?”. I was told that I just ruined my chance for advancement by a few people. I told them, that I wanted to see how the other half lived in the black shoe Navy. When I made AMCS in ’05 while on my 2nd activation, those people who told me that I ruined my career sent me an email, saying they guessed they were wrong. I retired in ’09.
IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.
While assigned to VFA-82 on the America in ’89, we were suppose too be in Singapore for 7 days; but on our 3rd day LtCol Higgins (USMC) was killed by the terrorists who took him hostage. So we were called back to the ship and we high tailed it back to the coast of Iran, where we sat there for about 3 weeks loading & unloading A/C for missions that never happened.
One evening I was sitting on the alert 5 bird with the pilot. He was showing me pics of the ships he was assigned to destroy. They were our old Fletcher class destroyers. I asked if they were recent and he said yes. So we discussed the weapon systems they had and he asked why I knew so much about them, that I could have given him the intel brief. I told him about my grandfather and said that I have been on a few of them.
So we didn’t end up bombing Iran, but a few months later we ended up in participating in a rescue mission in Lebanon. We were with the Coral Sea battle group, we provided air support for the embassy rescue mission. The Coral Sea was supposed to relieve us, so we could go home, but she got her decom letter. So instead of us off loading stuff to her, she off loaded her stuff to us!
During that process a Russian destroyer was behind us. Every once in a while she would try to make a run between us. So we would close the gap and she would fall back & we would open up & she would try again. This went on a few times while the helos where doing their thing. Flight ops was suspended during this evolution, so a lot of people were on the roof of both ships. When we would close the gap a few hand gestures were passed back & forth between us sailors, along with a lot of banter! They were laughing, but not too many of us were! Whenever we did an unrep our skipper would have the song Coming to America by Neil Diamond played on the 1MC, so that was playing the whole time.
In ’05, I was the forward gunner on a 34′ Dauntless Sea Ark boat manning an M-60. We were on station at night at the port of Ash Shu’ay Bah Kuwait. A small craft with a flashing green light was entering our threat zone from under a pier. We started for the boat & manned our gun stations. We could not fire on the boat because the pier he came under was an LNG pier and a tanker was getting loaded at the time. You don’t want a stray round to hit anything on that pier!
So the Coxswain got on the inside track of him and once we cleared that pier & ship we would have a clear shot. He was holding his course until we were about 300′ from him and we turned our blue lights on. Once we did that, he turned hard to port to get the hell away from us. We turned with him, keeping us between him & the port entrance. We were broad side with about 100′ between us. The whole time I had my weapon pointed right at the 2 guys standing at the wheel. The port 50 would of taken care of the rest of the boat if need be. I was thinking the whole time “don’t point a weapon at us; I don’t want to kill you”. That was the 1st time I came close to killing someone with me pulling a trigger. I have loaded A/C with weapons and they have come back without them, but I never saw the end result. Standing behind a gun & seeing a person on the other end of the sights is a different story! You see the end result of what you just did. I can still see those men in that boat.
The Coxswain asked if we could go after the boat and the TOC denied the request. They said they passed the info to the Kuwaiti Navy & Coast Guard, they never found the boat. A few hours later we could hear a distress call from a ship, asking for help because it was being attacked by pirates. Since the ship was not an HVA, we could not go out to assist.
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
I always look back at my flight deck time with ’82 as fond times. I loved working the roof, being at sea and the guys I worked with. My time with 62 was great, did a lot of fun things and went a lot of places.
My time with IBU was the end of my career and I enjoyed being on the boats and most of the people I deployed with. When you spend 10 or 12 hrs a day on a patrol boat with 3 or 4 other people you can’t help but build a special bond. Just like the bond you build with people you trust your life with!
As for my least favorite part of my career! It was dealing with the bad E-7’s, E-8’s & E-9’s. In VFA-106 I had and E-7 who thought all of us line rats were no good. He didn’t believe in, if you take care of your sailors, they will take care of you. So he treated us like crap & we treated him like crap. When he screwed up, he blamed it on us, but we made sure everyone knew that he was the screw up.
In VFA-82 I had another fouled up CPO mess. They thought they were above the law. As far as us E-4 & below in the line shack were concerned, there was only 1 Chief in the unit, ADC Broom. He stood up for us & he paid the price for not touting the line. One night while working the roof, I got into an argument with and AMC and he proceeded to try to throw me down a running intake. Lucky for me the pilot saw it and he throttled back the engine, while I was holding a pad eye. The pilot never said a word! I told my guys who saw it, to stay out of it. I didn’t want them to get caught up in my fight!
I was told by the E-8 & E-9 of the Maintenance Dept to keep my mouth shut or else. I was fighting for custody of my daughter at the time & we had another deployment coming up. I was told they wouldn’t put me on it. Well when the list came out I was # 1 on it. I kept my mouth shut until then. When I was checking out of the command, I told the CO he doesn’t run the unit and I told him the entire story. He was not happy. That again, is another story!
I visited that unit a year later and a few of my old friends were still there. They told me what happened after I left. They said the CO went nuts and he and the new black shoe Master Chief cleaned house. The AMHC never saw E-8 & the E-8’s never saw E-9.
I saw my old CO a few years after that. He flew into NAS South Weymouth, I was working as a crash crew firefighter on the base. We were driving by the A/C and I saw him. I caught him coming out of the hangar. He saw me, called me over, we talked & laughed. He told me what happened after I left, I told him that I heard. He asked if I would launch him out later that day. So I prepped the bird like old times, got him strapped in like old times, we said goodbye, I told him to have a good flight and I launched him off like old times. That was the last time I touched a running hornet. I have to admit, it felt good crawling under that bird doing my checks. I missed it! I got into a habit way back when, when I saw the pilot coming out to the A/C; I would tap the A/C and tell it to take care of him (we didn’t have female pilots back then). I did it with the Hercs also and when I get into an A/C.
While assigned to IBU-22, we had to deal with a squadron CPO mess who thought they were above regulations & thought they deserved special treatment. They didn’t like being told they were wrong or that they didn’t get special treatment from me. To me an anchor didn’t mean you are special and deserve better treatment. Some people forget where they came from and expect special treatment. Most of the E-9’s in the squadron didn’t have any balls, they just kissed the O’s butts! The ones who didn’t kiss butt, got assigned to the PLATS, UAE or Bahrain, that also went for some of the O’s who didn’t play along either.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?
In my career I have had a few close calls, where I could have been killed or seriously hurt. I have also seen some of my friends & sailors get hurt. The time I was looking down my M-60 at the human being I might have to kill, was eye opening. I don’t take life for granted, it is too short. So I try to enjoy as much as I can and laugh as much as possible.
WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS OR QUALIFICATION BADGES FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT OR VALOR, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.
I was coming up to the end of my time with VFA-106. The Rear Admiral who got me into & kept me out of trouble on a few occasions, asked me if I would consider coming to D.C. to be his personal P/C. 106 was a RAG outfit and I really wanted to go to sea. He said he understood, he told me that if I ever needed anything, that I was to call on him anytime.
I was launching 1 of the instructor pilots, Maj. Hedges, on my last week working the line in 106. As I was strapping him in, he told me “that it was an honor to have known me and that I would have made a hell of a Marine. He knew that when he is strapped into a bird I prepped, that it was a good bird and the cleanest cockpit he flew in! He also kept me out of the brig once.
With VFA-82, I was again assigned to the line division. Back then people could enlist for 2 years and as a group. Well, we got 1 of these groups, a bunch of kids straight from the hoods of NYC and fresh out of high school. They were a good group of kids, they did not take life to serious and they called me Grandpa, I was 24.
I taught them everything I knew about the Hornet and they soaked it all in. We were at sea and one of them was working days and I worked nights as a T/S. One day, Airman Banks came to my bunk shaking me awake. He was all excited and he woke all of us night checkers up. I asked what was wrong and he said nothing, so I said “Why in the hell are you waking me up?” He said that his bird just caught fire and that he put it out all by himself. I asked; if he and the pilot were okay, he said “Yes”, I said, “Good job”, and that I was proud of him. He said, “Thank you for everything”. The guys awake asked if they could go back to sleep now and he went back to work.
Another moment was my retirement ceremony. My present Sailors and some from my past; gave me a great send off that I, my family and friends will never forget!
There are many 1 on 1 moments with sailors thru out my career like above, that make me proud of my time in the Navy. When I have been asked to make entries into my sailors charge books! When I got asked to be the guest speaker at a retirement ceremony or asked to plan or participate in a ceremony and they tell me why. All of these are proud moments. But the proudest moment was with 3 of my daughters. Mackenzie was in 2nd grade and Isabella was in kindergarten. In 2007 I was shipping out for their 3rd activation in 5 yrs. I was asked to go into their school and talk with their classes, which I did. I showed up in my cammies, with my other daughter Hadley.
When I got to the classroom door, they both looked at me with the biggest smiles.They got up, ran over to me, turned to their classmates and said, “This is my Dad, he is in Navy”. They walked me to the chair that was put out for me. I fielded questions for about 30 minutes, they never left my side and they just held my hands the entire time. Country artist Keni Thomas (an Army Ranger from Blackhawk down) says it best in his song, “That One is My Dad”; he says it for all us proud parents!
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
My 1 & only NAM that I got while in VFA-82 in ’88. When I left 106 to go to 82, I thought, yes I will finally get to work in the airframes shop, boy was I wrong again! I was told that I would go to 1st Lt, because they didn’t want to contaminate me with old technology. I raised the B/S flag to PO1 Plate everyday and asked if I could go back to 106 and at least keep my quals up? The 1st kept on saying no, then they finally got sick of the bitching. So they sent me to VFA-87 instead, where I spent the next 4 months working with them. I did workups with them, I kept my quals up and got a few more in the process. I had a great time with them. When it was time to transition from the A-7’s to F/A 18’s, they called me back.
I found out that the command was going to put me back in the line to set up the line & T/S Div. I was also tasked with training the command on how to operate and work around the 18’s. I put a lot of time & effort into it. Our CAG was in Fallon doing our bombing quals. I was the night check T/S Sup and we were launching out a mission. I was walking down the line & a bird was taxing from the arming point, on it’s way too take off. I just happened to see that a door under the port engine was open. I stopped the pilot, who was LCDR Wirt, he came from Pax, where he was a test pilot. He was a great pilot! It turns out that there were 3 doors open on his A/C. As I was sending him off, he asked why I stopped him. I signaled that a door was open & I would tell him when he got back.
So he left and I found the guys who checked him out & told them what happened. He came back and he came looking for me, I was hoping he would forget, but he didn’t. I told him that I found a door open, not 3, he thanked me and said good job, and it was genuine. He never mentioned it again. Later on back at Cecil, my LPO asked me about it and said that Mr. Wirt told him about it. He asked who checked him out, I told him I handled it and that was it.
Well later on at quarters, I was up with the guys who were getting promoted,(I was getting E-5). We got dismissed, but CDR Eason told me to stand fast, which I did. He walked up to me and looked down at me. I’m 6′ when standing tall, his call sign was lurch and for good reasons! He pinned the NAM on me as the XO was reading the award. It turns out that Mr. Wirt wrote me up for a COMM for that trip, but it got knocked down to a NAM. As AMC Hawkins pointed out to me, E-4’s don’t deserve a COMM for doing their job! To a point I agreed with him, I was doing my job when I closed those doors. But all the other admin stuff I did to set up those divisions were way above & beyond an E-4’s job. Especially when an E-5 & E-6 were assigned to those divisions. CDR Eason thanked me for all the hard work I did to get the command up & running and combat ready. After quarters Mr. Wirt came up and thanked me again!
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
In a positive way, Gunnies Cherry, Hunsinger, Birdsong, Lawrence, MSgt Dugan, MGySgt Lord, CPO Broom, Maj Hedges, CDR’s Eason, Mustin, LeClair, and Desormier. They all cared about their Marines & Sailors, They all had their own way of leading, and over all they all tried to do right by us. Even all of the bad CPO’s I have dealt with have had a positive effect. They taught me and all the others that were exposed to them, what not to be or do as a person in a leadership role.
PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.
Where to begin, in 25 yrs you make meet a lot of people. The 1st guy to mention is AMH2 Jeff Chessick. We met in F/A-18 school & we went to VFA-106 together. He was a great mentor & is a great friend. I don’t know if they still show that training movie the 1st 48 hrs to the new guys, but he made sure I didn’t get with the wrong crowd. We still talk and him & his wife Joellyn sends my girls b-day cards every yr & X-mas cards.
Next would be Adam & Jada Gray, we worked the line together in 106. They visit when they are in the area & we visit when we are down in there next of the woods. 106 was a big command with a lot of good people. There was Hughey & carrie from my 87 days, I visit them when I’m in Fla. Then there is Jay & Chubs from my 82 days. We still talk & send emails back & forth. I have been to God’s (Texas) country as they call it, but they haven’t been up here in Yankee country as they call it. There is Chris, Dave, Darrin, Dilts & so many others from my AIMD & 62 days. I still talk with & see some of them. Then there are my boat days, again so many great people. I couldn’t possibly name them all! I still talk & see a lot of them. With promotion and retirement ceremonies I get to keep up with them. Had a lot of good times in my career, with a lot of good people. I have very few regrets with my career.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
While assigned to F/A-18 school in Lemoore, I was the only boot in the class. Everyone else came from the fleet, mostly from A-7’s & F-14’s. Back then the movie Blue Thunder was popular. If you remember the movie, one you are old and two you remember the JAFO hat. Well the guys gave me a JAFA hat and they made me wear it around the base. Only one person ever asked me what it stood for and it was a Commander. We were walking to class; he stopped us, called me over and asked what JAFA stood for.
So there I was, a boot E-3 wondering what the hell I was going to tell him and so were the guys. So finally, I just came out and told him exactly what it meant, “just another f—–g airman sir”. He stood there for a brief moment, looked at me & the guys standing behind me, laughed and said, “Carry on.” I said “Yes Sir” saluted & walked away.
In VFA-106, a Rear Admiral was the one who got me in trouble and he was the one who got me out of trouble. We were on board ship; I was part of a detachment for a pilot class doing their carrier quals. The Admiral was just keeping his current.I had been a P/C for him about yr & a half now, he was assigned to the wing at Cecil. So our relationship was a typical P/C pilot relationship.
I had just finished launching him and I passed him over to the waiting ABH. We were on elevator 1 & as he taxied by me, he flipped me the bird. I looked around to see if he did it to someone else. I pointed at myself while looking at him and he shook his head yes. We both started laughing, so I flipped him back, turned to walk away and guess who was standing behind me, my least favorite ADC. Well he started in on me & said he was going to write me up, which was normal for him. So I did what I usually did when he did that, I threw my pen at him, said “Start f—–g writing”. The pen bounced off of him & I picked it up, I didn’t want to put FOD on the roof!
By the time I got off the roof and in the shop, Gunny Birdsong was waiting for me. He asked, if I really flipped off the Admiral & threw my pen at the E-7 (everyone called him the E-7), I told him yes! He shook his head, started to laugh, he couldn’t stand ADC either, not too many people could! Anyway, he told me that I have to stop throwing pens at him. Gunny was there to escort me to the OIC to sign my report chit, which I did.
So the Admiral is the last one down and I go to unstrap him. He starts laughing and says “Babstock you are the only guy who has ever flipped me back”. I started laughing and told him what happened. As we were walking back to the island, he told me that he would take care of it, and he did.
On one of the many Fallon trips I went on while in 106, way before they put a permanent detachment there, Major Hedges kept me from the brig. I was accused of DUI & destruction of government property. That’s a whole other story all in itself. The only thing was, I didn’t drink & he knew it, plus the fact nothing came up on all of the tests I had to go through! He didn’t like the fact that the command was going to hide a LCDR who got busted for a DUI in town on the same trip & they were going to keel haul me! So he raised the BS flag and my charges were dropped.
I spent more time at NAS Fallon, or on a ship than I did at Cecil. Myself & LCPL Gray worked mids on the wash rack for 3 months straight, 7 days a week. Our first skipper didn’t believe in time off, unless you worked topside inside the nice air conditioned office spaces. We averaged 3 to 5 A/C a night, depending how dirty they were. That was us getting them off the line and us bringing them back ourselves, just the two of us. Who needs wing walkers!
One Sunday morning, we got challenged by I believe by LCPL’s Faulkner & Folsom on who could take a bird back to the line and bring another back to the wash rack the fastest. The birds sat side by side on the rack and we told them we would take the inside bird to make it even. Everyone laughed & they took the outside bird. We both hooked up and Adam got in the seat and I drove. They were able to pull right out, we had to back out.
So it is a Sunday and nobody else is working, so we thought. So we take off, of course we are behind them, I mean right behind them. Our right wing tip was right behind their left wing tip! I went to go around & they cut us off a few times. We made our time up when it came to hooking up to the other bird. Adam drove back & I rode the seat, we beat them back. When we got back to the shack, Gunny Hunsinger was there waiting for us. We walked in, sat down and didn’t say a word. He looked at all of us and asked if the birds were ready and we said yes. He said good: he turned to us and said something like “the next time you want to f–king drag race with millions of dollars of A/C, make sure the Admiral isn’t watching, you f–king idiots”. We denied everything!
The Admiral was the same Admiral who flipped me off. His office was in VA-174’s hangar which was next to ours. He did mention the race the next time I launched him! He was one of the coolest Admirals I ever knew.
In the mid 80’s, the Navy’s top brass, in its infinite wisdom (because the politician’s said they had too) decided that it was time for females to be able to work on the roof with non-combat commands. So they decided to let RAG outfits send females aboard carriers. Well guess what div had the most girls, yup the line div, my div. So I’m on the 1st detachment that is sending girls to do carrier quals.
We have girls with us; I was tasked with showing 2 of them around the roof to give them the safety brief and they were going to be with me when the A/C arrived. You are thinking lucky guy right! When it came to working the roof, my attitude was this. If I could trust you to get me out of trouble if I got in it, then I didn’t care who or what you were. If I couldn’t, then I didn’t want you around me at anytime!
So myself and the 2 girls are walking around the roof. I see the Capt & an Admiral walking around the deck with their marine guards in tow. Well the 2 girls are behind me. We are coming up on the 2 officers, well they both come running up to me calling my name and they both goosed me! I turned beat red, I couldn’t say a word, I put my head down and just stood there waiting for the hammer to fall. The Capt & Admiral just laughed along with the rest of them. I was mortified! The girls could not stop laughing, they grabbed me by the arms and walked me off.
The Capt had armed guards stationed at every hatch that led to a female berthing area! They were not allowed to wander around the ship by themselves either. So those of us that brought them were considered very lucky guys for the most part. We considered them just another Sailor, but for a ship & crew that never worked with females before, they were thought of differently and it was obvious! The current sub crews are now going through what the rest of the fleet went through back in the mid & late 80’s. It will be a big transition for them!
With 82; we were getting a launch ready; a P/C asked me to look at his bird, so I did, I said the A/C was down. I was looking for the flight deck chief to tell him & the pilot came out. It was Mr. Smith a damn good pilot! I told him the plane was down, he asked why, I told him and he said don’t worry about it. I said it isn’t safe and he said he wanted to fly. I said OK, it’s your life, hoping that would stop him, it didn’t. So he starts it up, I wait for the P/C to hand it over to me, my partner & we do our checks. I salute him & do the sign of the cross & I hand him over to the waiting ABH. He looked at me shaking his head & I could see him say WTF. He shuts the bird down, the P/C puts the ladder down. He walks up to me & says & I quote “Babstock you are a F–kKING A–HOLE” & walks off too the island. I said “I told you it was unsafe” as he was walking off.
He left the Navy after that deployment to become an airline pilot. I was the P/C for his last flight with us. As I was strapping him in, he said thanks for that night on the roof. I told him I was just doing my job. He wished me luck with everything that was going on. I wished him luck with his future. When he landed, we shook hands and I never saw him again. I left for an around the horn cruise before he checked out. He was a great pilot & a good man!
Another 82 story is with a pilot named Wyle. So I get this MAF from M/C saying that F/C computer #1 would not work in the O F F position. I laugh & say this must be a joke. So I go down to M/C (I had to go to supply for parts anyway) & talk with them in there, saying ha ha nice joke. They said it isn’t a joke, he was actually serious. So I go across the way to the Hornets nest & the O’s are watching a movie.
So I go in, sit down next to Mr. Wyle & I ask him to read it. So he does, he looks at me, I ask if it is a joke. Now we are whispering because the movie is on & the CO & XO are sitting behind us. I said read it again & I get the same response. I said, read it again but out loud, by this time the CO & XO are listening to what is going on. So he reads it out loud, the F/C computer #1 won’t work in the OFF position. Then it clicks and the light goes on in his head. Just as the CO slaps the back of his head & calls him an idiot. The room busts out laughing, I told him that I was going to A 779 it & sign it off, if he didn’t mind. As I was walking out I said,”it only takes a high school education to fix a college education f–k up”! The room busted out laughing again. He was the pilot in the A/C during my intake incident.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
When I got off of active duty in ’90, I got a job as a firefighter for the Navy at NAS South Weymouth. The base got its shut down notice, so it was time to get another job. When I was still on active duty in ’89, I went home on leave between cruises and took the state firefighter test. I ended up getting a job with & still am a firefighter for my home town. I am a 3rd generation fireman. I also drive a small ferry boat around Boston Harbor on my days off from the station.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I am part of the local VFW. Up until I had kids, I liked to volunteer on board the USS Salem CA-139. Someday when they have flown the coup, I will return to doing that.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?
As we all know; we come to rely on others to keep us safe and they rely on us to keep them safe. It is part of being in the military and we learn it very young! Being a P/C, T/S, mechanic, manning a weapon, running a boat crew, a shop sup, an LPO or a CPO puts a lot of responsibility on a person.
Attention to detail is not just a catchphrase that we say. It is something we live by, because if we lose our focus, someone could or will die or get seriously hurt! Those of us that rely on equipment to work properly, learn how to take care of it for obvious reasons. As Gunny Highway say’s (another old movie) “you have to learn how to improvise, adapt and overcome any situation”.
Well, I carry that way of thinking to my fire dept job, always have! I have been ridiculed for it and a lot of laughs have been had for it. When I use to drive, guys would throw a bolt or something under my truck. Because they knew; I would see it and I would go over that truck until I found where it came from. They would just sit and watch or they would just leave. They also knew, that if I was driving; that the truck & everything on it was ready to go! We all got a good laugh.
Now that I don’t drive anymore, I tell and teach my drivers what I expect from them. I tell them that I want to go home to my family at the end of the shift and it might have to be up to them to make sure it happens.
As for how the military influences my interactions with my family? Well they would have to answer that one. Some of it is good and some of it isn’t as far as they are concerned, I’m sure! We all know the family of a service member has the toughest job, hands down!
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE NAVY?
The 1st thing I would tell someone; is to take full advantage of everything the Navy has to offer! Take & go to as many schools & classes as you can, get a degree, get as many quals as you can. Do as many rating books as you can, some are worth college credit & retirement points!
Learn how to read your service record; your service record is your responsibility, no one else’s! The people who are responsible to make entries into it are human beings. Which means; they can & do make mistakes & they can be lazy just like you? If you do not know how to read it, then who will catch a mistake? Not every LPO or CPO reads their Sailors records, because no one taught them. Sit down with your admin dept, an LPO or CPO and have them teach you! It’s your career; a screwed up record can haunt you well after you get out or retire! You don’t want to try to fix it when you get out, it is damn near impossible!
Take writing courses and buy Naval writing books. Learn how to write your own evaluation. When your shop supervisor or LPO asks for input, give it to them. Again it is your career, take a hold of it and run it! When you move up in rank, you will be writing evaluations & awards for your sailors! They deserve your time & best effort.
Be fair, honest, and trustworthy, treat your fellow Sailors with respect & treat them as individuals. Take pride in your uniform & in every task assigned to you. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what is right. Pay attention to detail, a life may depend on it & it might be yours!
Take the initiative; if you see a problem that needs to be fixed, try to fix it! If you can’t, then find someone who can! Don’t be the problem, be the solution. There are many ways to do things, the Navy way, the wrong way & your way. If you fail on your 1st attempt, then try again, keep trying until the problem is fixed or you accomplish the task. A good sup will give you some line to explore, but they will not let you hang yourself. If you need help, then ask, if you don’t know the answer, then find it or find someone who does! We are a team: no one can run a dept, an op, ship or A/C by themselves.
Try to have as much fun as possible, take lots of pics. Do not be like me and have to rely on your memory to remember the good times! Trust me: when you get out or retire you will tell sea stories, let them be good ones! Remember, you represent everyone who is or has ever worn a uniform. Trust me when I say, people are watching. You have joined the world’s greatest navy. Don’t let us down!
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
It has hooked me back up with old Sailors. Answering these questions have brought back old memories, that I haven’t thought of for a very long time.