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Posts from the ‘U.S. Navy Sailor’ Category


#TributetoaVeteran – Capt Bill Pappas U.S. Navy 1968-2006


#TributetoaVeteran – Capt Bill Pappas U.S. Navy 1968-2006


#TributetoaVeteran – BMC Phil Toth U.S. Navy (Ret), 1975-1997


#TributetoaVeteran Together We Served Member Lt Wes Holland, U.S. Navy (Ret), 1986-2008


#TributetoaVeteran Together We Served Member Lt Wes Holland, U.S. Navy (Ret), 1986-2008 If you served, reconnect with old Service Friends at


#TributetoaVeteran ABE3 Marilyn Richards, U.S. Navy, 1997-2001


#TributetoaVeteran CWO4 Ricardo Vinas, U.S. Navy (Ret), 1962-1992


#TributetoaVeteran – Together We Served Member: ENC(SS) George Jones, US Navy (Ret), 1937 – 1956


About Together We Served



If you or a loved one has served our country as a member of the United States Armed Forces, then you’ve come to the right place.

Together We Served (TWS) is the online community connecting and honoring every American who has worn the uniform of the United States military. This is where you reconnect with old friends and share your service story as a lasting legacy for generations to come.

More Than A Decade & Growing

TWS launched in 2003 with a website specifically for Marine Corps veterans. Since then, we’ve expanded to five websites, welcoming members from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and Coastguard. Our vision: to create a unique place for all service members, run by service members, sharing real-life history IN THEIR OWN WORDS. TWS is detailed, honest, and real: an authentic recounting of history as-it-happens.

Today, TWS has more than 1.4 million members and has reconnected more service men and women than any other website or organization. Reunions happen every day. Some veterans haven’t seen each other in 40 years. Some are healed through the reconnections made here. Still others find old friends they thought lost forever. These miraculous stories are inspirational.

A Larger Purpose

On the surface, TWS is a social networking site. However, there is a much larger purpose, one we hope you’ll participate in. TWS is a living, breathing national archive of the most important events in our nations’ history.

Each story and profile here takes its rightful, permanent place in our collective consciousness. In this new, virtual world, every time you log on, share a photograph, recall an experience, or find a comrade, you are contributing to what will be the most intriguing, comprehensive and expandable military archive available.

Our Roll of Honor is a gift to every family who has lost a loved one in service – a personalized online memorial they can contribute to, preserve, and share for posterity. More than 100,000 profiles of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coastguardsmen who died while serving in all major U.S. conflicts since WWII already exist here.

Our work is hardly complete. There are currently just over 21 million veterans; nearly 60% are from the Vietnam, Korean and WWII era. We are in a race against time to capture their stories now, while we still can.

What Is Your Story

If you have served this country, you are already a part of this community. And your friends are waiting for you. Welcome to the most important online presentation of our nations’ military history available.
Welcome to Together We Served.


Very Respectfully

Brian A. Foster
President and Founder
Together We Served


MSCS Steven Karoly US Navy (Ret) (Served 1970-1999)



By Completing Your Reflections!
 Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Profile Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

Start Today

Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Navy?

2017-05-14_14-44-16As long as I can remember I wanted to join the Navy upon graduation from high school. Both my father and his older brother served in World War II. Dad enlisted in 1943 as an Apprentice Seaman in the Navy V-12a program. After graduation from Navy college, he entered aviator training as an Aviation Cadet in the V-5 program and earned his wings and commission as an Ensign, USNR, in December 1945. My uncle deployed to Africa and Italy with the 329th Bomb Squadron, 485th Bomb Group, as a waist gunner in the B-24 bomber. My uncle’s aircraft went down over Bulgaria in June 1944 and he spent 90 days as a POW. And during junior high school, my mother’s sister’s husband deployed to Vietnam as an advisor in Vietnamese river gunboats.

While neither family had long traditions of military service to the country, the quiet influence of those that served motivated me to enlist in the Navy delayed entry program in April 1970. Foothill High School, Bakersfield, California, buddy Jim Anderson enlisted at the same time (though not in the buddy program). We signed our respective yearbooks as “(Name), SR, USNR”! Jim ultimately asked to go to boot camp early, while I waited until Labor Day weekend 1970. (As an aside, never report to boot camp on a holiday weekend. You learn firsthand of the Navy’s “hurry up and wait” culture!)

Company 369, under the capable leadership of MMC Barr, was a great boot camp company. Chief Barr appointed me as a Recruit Petty Officer Second Class and Second Squad Leader in the first week of boot camp. I was one of three squad leaders that retained his position for the 11-week boot camp. (The other three were replaced at one point or another.)

My early goal was to join the US Navy Seabees. However, the Navy had different plans. As the Vietnam War was winding down under President Nixon’s Vietnamization program, the Navy needed a smaller construction force. With battalions being decommissioned and the resulting overmanning in Seabee ratings, the boot camp classifier said that I couldn’t request Engineering Aid (EA) Class A School. EA seemed to be a worthwhile course as my father was a civil engineer and I had worked the summer of 1969 on a survey crew pulling rear chain.

The classifier would only let me volunteer for general duty in the Seabees. I also requested the following Class A Schools on my dream sheet: Commissaryman (CS), Quartermaster (QM), Aerographer’s Mate (AG) and Photographic Intelligenceman (PT). The Navy obliged by sending me to Commissaryman/Steward Class A School in January 1971. Since I already had an interest in cooking, I accepted the Navy’s wisdom and never looked back. The culinary arts have been my life’s work on active duty, in the reserves and in my civilian career.

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?

I have never seen my active duty career and subsequent reserve career as spectacular or impressive. I answered the call by enlisting in the Navy during one our country’s most unpopular wars. Even th2017-05-14_14-46-12ough she signed for me as a 17-year-old, I knew that my mother had reservations about my enlistment during a period of war. I later learned that I first walked while dad was performing his two weeks active duty at NAS Oakland with VS-873 in the summer of 1953. This with the fact that I was the oldest and first to leave home added to her trepidation. I think this motivated dad to cut his Naval Reserve career short in 1956.

Despite rumors that CS/SD “A” School Class 7124 was being shipped en-masse to Vietnam upon graduation, American involvement in the war was winding down. There was little chance (for the moment) that I would deploy to a war zone. I later comforted mom in this regard, at least until my battalion, NMCB-17, was being trained for mobilization to Operation Desert Storm in the winter of 1991.

I served eight and one-half years on active duty, from September 1970 to February 1979. Looking back, I should’ve remained on active duty to complete my 20 years. I did enlist in the US Naval Reserve and served until May 1999, retiring a Senior Chief Mess Management Specialist (MSCS). Looking back at my twentieth year, my enlistment would’ve been extended due to Operations Dessert Shield and Dessert Storm had I remained on active duty. Of course, my life would’ve taken a different track and I wouldn’t have met my lovely wife, Debbie, in 1979.

Attack Squadron 127 at NAS Lemoore was my first duty station out of Class A school. For someone who’d “joined the Navy to see the world,” I’d landed on shore duty in the middle of California’s San Joaquin Valley–sandwiched between my boyhood homes of Fresno and Bakersfield. It took a special request chit to get me to sea. I figured why be in the Navy if you don’t go to sea? After all, that’s what makes the Navy stand out from the Army and the Air Force.

The Navy obliged in May 1972 and ordered me to the USS Cocopa (ATF-101). I met the fleet tug at NAVSTA Guam after 10 days in transit (I flew over the ship one-hour west of Hawaii). The next three years were spent cruising between Da Nang, Subic Bay and San Diego on the Cocopa and the USS Stein (DE-1065). A brief visit to the Indian Ocean in the winter of 1975 convinced me that world politics was shifting fleet operations to less exotic ports of call. So, I shipped over for foreign duty.

My reward for shipping over was a tour in the Philippines at the sprawling Seabee-built air base at Cubi Point. Then sixteen short months later, I again landed at a state-side naval air station, this time NAS Kingsville, Texas. Two years and a few college classes later, I was back in San Diego on the USS Robison (DDG-12). By this time, my experience at Georgia Military College (they had a contract with the Navy in Texas) and the quiet influence of my parents convinced me to get out and return to school.

Six days before my discharge, the Navy advanced me to MS1, a move that surprised me. Previously in 1974, I had to extend my enlistment to accept the rate of CS2 on the USS Stein. (The Commissaryman (CS) rating was merged with the Steward (SD) rating to form the Mess Management Specialist (MS) rating in January 1975.) As it turned out, the Navy had relaxed the requirement that you have one year remaining on your enlistment to accept advancement to PO2 or PO1.

The day after my discharge in late February 1979, I enlisted in the Naval Reserve at the Naval Reserve Center, Bakersfield, California, and was assigned to Detachment 0717, Reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 17. As a Headquarters Company Seabee, I frequently drilled at the battalion Permanent Drill Site at NCBC Port Hueneme.

I count two duty stations as my favorite, one for active duty and other in the reserves. The first was the USS Cocopa. As a shall ship, I prepared the whole meal each day. Unlike the NAS Lemoore operations galley, where I grilled endless quantities of chicken fried steak on the flat top griddle, you got to know all 70 members of the fleet tug’s crew. Among those were the tall, lanky EM3 that only ate scrambled eggs. Or the EN2, complete with biker beard, that consumed massive quantities of food during storms, when the rest of the crew avoided the chow line.

NMCB-17 was my favorite reserve duty station. I had never experienced a unit with such great morale and dedication to the mission as I did during our three-week pre-mobilization active duty for Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. The Seabees of “The Desert Battalion” were pumped, ready to accept deployment orders to anywhere the Navy needed us. Battalion leadership was listening to returning active and reserve S4 (Supply Officer), S4A (Assistant SupO), S4C (Supply LCPO) and S4G (Galley LCPO).

As the second senior Seabee in the Supply Department (The S3C, SKCS Bill Tinsley, was senior to me), I prepared the General Mess for duty in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia. Had we been deployed, I would have had many challenges. Foremost was the fact that my Assistant Leading Chief MS, MSC Bob Voigt, was also the Battalion Mortar Platoon Commander. And the General Mess was undermanned in junior MS3s and MSSNs. Thankfully, my galley leadership was in place (MS1s and MS2s). I would’ve been able to absorb SNs and SAs and train then to be Seabee cooks and bakers. In the end, NMCB-17’s deployment orders to the Seabee deployment camp, Camp Covington, Guam, were canceled after the ground war ended.

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.

I have never involved in any direct combat during my eight and one-half years active duty and twenty years reserve duty. My first WestPac cruise on the USS Cocopa (AFT-12017-05-14_14-48-0101) was the closest that I came. In the summer of 1972, the Cocopa deployed the Subic Bay Naval Base and the Seventh Fleet area of operations. During the eight-month cruise, the tug only served some 40 days in the territorial waters of Vietnam, including one three-week period as “duty tow and salvage” in Da Nang Harbor and off China Beach. The closest we came to “combat” was the observation of tracers and star shells along the coast as the Cocopa cruised out to sea each evening at dusk.

The Cocopa was a working ship. I’ve told my kids and grandkids, “We went to war to work.” Our task was to tow disabled ships, craft, and barges. With divers on board, the ship could assist with minor repair and salvage operation. The Cocopa spent 10 days in June 1972 searching for the wreckage of a C-130E from the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing off Makung P’eng-hu Island, Republic of China (Taiwan) in the Strait of Formosa. Our divers located the wreckage on June 8. During this mission, I savored some of the best watermelons I’ve ever tasted, brought to the ship by Chinese UDT sailors.

Several years later, while assigned as the Night Galley Watch Captain at the NAS Cubi Point General Mess, I had the opportunity to feed the Marines (possibly of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines) that boarded the SS Mayaguez, which had been seized by the Khmer Rouge in the wake of the Vietnam War. As I supervised midrats, a large group of Marines entered the mess decks to eat. I asked a Marine with his right arm in a sling where they were from. The Marine explained their role in the rescue of the Mayaguez. He then reached into the sling and pulled out his Purple Heart.

I realize this event pales in comparison to the experiences of those of others. Yet it came at the moment when NavSta Subic Bay and NAS Cubi Point were ramping up to care for the Vietnamese escaping the country as the NVA overran Saigon. For the next several months, the cooks of the NAS galley shifted into working 12 on/12 off to feed the refugees. The NavSta galley prepared the daily meal for the refugee camp on Grande Island while we cooked tons of rice and assembled flight meals for their transit to camps on Guam.

From your entire service, including combat, describe the personal memories which have impacted you most?

I’ve often wondered if our collective memories of our time in the services sweeten with age. In2017-05-14_14-49-23 July 1972, the USS Cocopa departed Naval Station Subic Bay and slammed directly into Typhoon Susan as she entered the South China Sea. The ensuing ride was one of the roughest I’ve ever encountered on any of my three the ships. At one point I honestly thought it would’ve been easier to jump into the sea than to endure the storm. I never want to experience a typhoon of that magnitude again.

Yet, I look back on the Cocopa with much fondness. I now talk about the typhoon as if it was a rite of passage, one that every fleet tug sailor had to endure, much like crossing the Equator or going through CPO initiation. If I have any regret of my time on the ship, it’s that I sought orders to the USS Stein so I could return to the Philippines. Of course, had I not returned to the Western Pacific in the spring and summer of 1973, my life would’ve taken a much different course.

This experience, and many, many others, have taught me how to endure the trials and tribulations in life. While they are unpleasant at the moment (and that may be an understatement when talking about typhoons), these events teach you to patiently endure to the conclusion of the matter. The help you develop a steady character, one that prompts you to place your faith in God.

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?

Since I don’t have any combat awards, the most meaningful would have to be my Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, three Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medals and the Air Force Achievement Medal. The remainder qualifies as 2017-05-14_14-50-50“gedunk” medals, meaning you were in the right place at the right time to earn them. Heck, one was awarded the National Defense Service Medal upon graduation from boot camp. I guess it’s DOD’s “participation award.” We always honor those awards that were righteously earned above the others.

The most interesting award was the Air Force Achievement Medal. While I never served in the U.S. Air Force, the medal was awarded to myself and 47 other Seabees of Detachment 0402, NMCB-2, for the construction of a 880′ railroad spur and 240′ loading dock on McClellan Air Force Base in 1982 and 1983. I was assigned as the Detachment Career Counselor at the time. In order to complete my task, I held tailgate counseling sessions at the job site during drill weekends. I helped with the project when time allowed and drove a number of railroad spikes. Today, I’m a Maintenance of Way volunteer for the El Dorado Western Railroad in my home county.

The most memorable is a Certificate of Appreciation from Cmdr. M.D. Langohor, SC, USNR, Logistics Officer of the Third Naval Construction Brigade Headquarters Det. in NCBC Port Hueneme, Calif. I was the Logistics Training Chief and Food Service Chief for the brigade at the time. My file contains many letters of achievement and commendation, too many to mention. Many were for recognition of one accomplishment or another, including the field exercise when I was Acting Supply Officer in 1993. But this one stands out because it represents hundreds of hours of hard work to develop and lead the Seabee Field Messing Course in Port Hueneme in 1995.

Seabee field messing was my passion in the Seabees. As the senior Pacific Fleet Seabee MS, it was my responsibility to train the cooks in the operation of the M-59 Field Range and the General Mess when deployed to the field. The certificate reads: “MSCS Steven C. Karoly, USNR, who successfully participated in providing a course of instruction on ‘Seabee Field Messing’ covering operation and maintenance of the M59 Field Range, immersion heaters, menu planning and food production, field rations, site selection, mess layout, tent setup and field sanitation to Mess Management Specialists of the THIRD Naval Construction Brigade.” The shining moment of this accomplishment was bringing the Navy Food Management Team, San Diego, on board as an active participant in the training.

I later received my Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal from Rear Admiral Thomas A. Dames, CEC, USN, Commander, Third NCB, for my assignment as the Brigade Logistics Training Chief, which included work on the Seabee Field Messing Course. But it’s that simple recognition from my supply officer that means the most to me today.

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

With 29 years of service to my credit, it’s difficult to pinpoint more than couple individuals and their respective impact on my life. When I think about it, those in a l2017-05-14_14-52-12eadership position over me had the most impact on my life. Several come to mind:

**Chief Barr, my boot camp Company Commander, who took a chance and elevated me to Recruit Petty Officer Second Class and Second Squad Leader of Company 369.

**The HT1 on the USS Cocopa who convinced me to take the CS3 exam when I wanted to skip it. Yes, you could describe his tactics as “strong arm,” but that’s what this hard-headed Seaman needed at the time.

**CS1 George Rooney, Leading CS of the Cocopa, for his hands-on approach to leadership in the galley.

**MSC Oscar Ray, Leading Chief MS of the USS Stein for his dedication to excellence and hands-on approach to leadership in the galley. We thought Chief Ray was over the top when he wanted to make sandwiches with shaved meat for battle feeding! Yet, it’s these examples that stick in your mind and help direct your career.

**PNCM Jimmy Garcia, Detachment OIC of NMCB-2 Det. 0402 in Sacramento, Calif., for showing me that a non-Seabee rating can lead a bunch of Seabees.

**MSC Bob Voigt, Leading Chief MS of NMCB-17 in 1986-87, for his leadership in General Mess operations at Camp Shelby, Miss., when I was his Training and Records Chief. I’ve never seemed more grace from one man when I put on my star in 1989 and became the Leading Chief MS.

What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? 

After my honorable discharge from active duty in February 1979, I continued my Navy career as a reservist with three Seabee units (NMCB-2, NMCB-17 and Third NCB). I entered Bakersfield College in September of that year (where I met2017-05-14_14-53-57 my lovely wife Debbie), married and transferred to University of California, Davis, where I completed a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics in June 1984.

A short career in hospital food service led to a 22-year career with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. I retired in August 2008 after working in three prisons and at headquarters. My last leadership position was the Food Manager for Folsom State Prison. (My desk was located 20 feet from Dining Room One, where Johnny Cash performed on January 13, 1968.) I closed my career with the State of California as an Associate Budget Analyst with Correctional Health Care Services in Sacramento.

Following my career, I realized a lifelong dream to work in summer camps. In the summer of 2009, I was the head cook for Deer Crossing Camp at Loon Lake in Eldorado National Forest. My service in the Seabee certainly helped me with this short job (the season was only 10-weeks long). In addition to cooking for 65 campers and staff, I was responsible for testing water quality, lighting off the generators and teaching English to my Mongolian assistant cook. My only regret was that the need for year-round work precluded my return in 2010.

After a very short job with a local casino (just 50 shifts), I landed a position as the House Chef for the Female Residential Multi-Service Center in Sacramento, California. It was the perfect job for this retired Senior Chief and correctional food manager. I was able to help mold the lives of several women in the program. As the only male on staff (other than the maintenance guy, who came in and of the house), I built a reputation as the “house dad.” I assisted the women with work skills as they rotated through the kitchen for their weekly chores.

Unfortunately, I was once again on the job market when the facility closed in March 2013. However, with two retirements (my Navy Reserve retirement started in 2012), I was able to focus on summer work and devote the rest of the year to volunteer work with the El Dorado Western Railroad, a program of the El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville, California.

Since April 2013 I have been the Executive Chef and Food Service Manager for Oakland Feather River Camp in Quincy, California (more about this job below). Except for a couple short periods, I have continuously worked as a cook and chef for the last 45 years. Looking back, I would have it no other way. It seems every time I tried to leave the galley, I missed it so much that I did everything to return. I can see no other career, both in the Navy and outside, for me.

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career?

As the chef at Oakland Feather River Camp, Quincy, California, I practice deckplate leadership. One aspect of leadership that differentiates a chef (or Chief Petty Officer) from a Food Service Manager (m2017-05-14_14-55-10y official title at the camp!) is the chef is constantly moving about the kitchen, leading the cooks and ensuring meal quality for campers. Following my practice as a Chief Petty Officer, “visible leaders who set the tone, know the mission, know their people and develop their people beyond their own expectations as a team and as individuals” (

The stereotypical FSM “leads” from the office, where his day is relegated to paperwork, orders, and schedules. I do all those things and cook and lead my crew into excellence six days per week (yes, I do take one day off to recharge and rest!).

Many of these skills were learned in the Navy, both from active duty, where I served as Galley Watch Captain at every ship and shore command until advancement to Chief, and reserve duty, where I honed my leadership ability as the Leading Chief MS of NMCB-17 and later as Logistics Training Chief and Food Service Chief for N4, Third Naval Construction Brigade in Port Hueneme.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Navy?

To those that desire a career in Navy food service as a Culinary Specialist (CS), I’d say learn, learn, learn. Take every opportunity to learn everything you can about your chosen rating, even beyond the scope of Navy food service. Today I would seek assignment to the CPO Mess or the Wardroom Mess, in addition to2017-05-14_14-56-48 working the General Mess. This will not only enhance your career but will give you an opportunity to expand your culinary skills, especially in terms of plate presentation, sauces (beyond the five mother sauces) and upscale cuisine.

At the time, many pre-1975 CSs (including myself) saw the Wardroom Mess as degrading work that was relegated to the Stewards. Many of us avoided such assignment. I changed my mind after my advancement to Chief Petty Officer. As the Leading Chief MS of NMCB-17, I was responsible for the General Mess, CPO Mess, Wardroom Mess and the BEQ. I slowly realized that officers “put their pants on one leg at a time” just as I do. I accepted my assignment with pride and served the Chiefs and Officers, in the same manner, I had served enlisted Sailors. Only now, I was performing that role in a position of leadership. It was my duty to pass this enthusiasm on to my cooks.

My other advice is to accept increasing responsibility, especially leadership roles. The goal for every enlisted sailor, especially those with a career (active or reserve) in mind, should always be the advancement to Chief Petty Officer. As the most effective leaders in all of the services, being “The Chief” teaches you a lot about humility, motivation, and leadership. You’re the man in the trenches who gets the job done (and trains your Division Officer!).

And seek leadership roles beyond the galley. While Leading Chief CS is a worthwhile goal (and necessary goal for a career CS), extra military leadership roles expand your career. During my 20 years in the Seabee reserve, I served as Fire Team Leader, Squad Leader, 80mm Mortar Team Leader, Headquarters Company Chief, Platoon Chief for crew-served weapons school and career counselor, among many other assignments. This was in addition to fleet assignments as Division Damage Control Petty Officer, sight-setter on a 3″ 50 cal. gun. and 1JV fantail photo talker during Sea and Anchor Detail.

In what ways has helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

Since my retirement in 1999, I’ve maintained the connection with several Navy shipmates on my own. Among those are MSC Bob Voigt, my Assistant Leading Chief MS from NMCB-17, and CS3 Dave Staken, fellow ship’s cook from the USS2017-05-14_14-58-09 Cocopa. I had dabbled in several other military Internet sites.

Together We Served has helped me locate a number of shipmates from a long career, especially those from my shipboard days in the 1970s. I have since become the unit historian for the USS Cocopa (ATF-101).


GM1 Tom Bateman U.S. Navy (1976-1989)

profile5Read the service reflections of

GM1 Tom Bateman

U.S. Navy


Shadow Box:


I had always wanted to join the military. I was raised on WWII movies, built military models, listened to stories from my uncles and just loved the thought of it. As a child I had thought I would join the Army and I would be a Tanker. I had apair of army fatigue coveralls that I wore all the time. My Mother said I would only take them off to be washed. Over my teenage years, my uncle Don (EM1 WWII SeaBee) told me about his service in the Navy. That, his love of our country and it’s veterans along with his Civic Pride is what confirmed my choice in military service and steered me from the Army to the Navy.

In igh school I took Army ROTC (there was no NROTC in our school system) and made it to Colonel (Battalion Commander for the school) by the end of my senior year. This guaranteed that I would start out as an E-3 instead of an E-1. At the start of my senior year I enlisted in the Navy’s Delayed-Entry Program. I left for Boot Camp 5 days after graduation.


I had originally planned on making a career of the Navy, most likely staying enlisted. I quickly advanced to PO2 and enjoyed the work at that level but as I moved more into a leadership position, i found that I missed the hands on work. I took and passed theE6 exam on the first try and was frocked to PO1. At that point I had become interested in computers by taking civilian correspondence courses and all the computer-related Navy Correspondence courses I could. At this point, I decided that I was more interested in programming than missiles and did not reenlist.

After I got home, I applied to a local Community College and finding part time work, I found that I did miss the Navy so I joined the Reserves. After taking and passing the E7 exam, I decided to apply for Limited Duty Officer with a Data Processing specialty and started the paperwork to do so. Unfortunately, I was told that I could not change my specialty to Data Processing (I had my Associates Degree by then and was working in the field) due to overmanning. It didn’t make sense to me to have to keep up on weapons knowledge while pursuing a totally different career in the civilian world. At that time I started working mid-nights, Monday night through Friday night, which messed up my Saturday drill days, so I went Category-H (inactive Reserve) and let my contract lapse (and I’m still kicking myself to this day for letting that happen).


We made an Indian Ocean deployment as part of the USS America Battle Group in 1981. During that deployment we were detached from the Battle Group and sent up into the Persian Gulf. Iraq and Iran were at war at this time so we were deployed as a Radar Picket/AirDefense asset. We cruised at Condition 3, weapons manned and ready to go, making sure nothing spilled over into the countries to the east.

I remember standing 12 hour watches in the Missile House and then going up to CIC to stand a 4 hour watch as Engagement Controller then having 8 hours to sleep, relax, whatever. The Battle Group was relieved after 5 months in the area and proceeded up the Gulf of Suez to begin a northern transit of the Suez Canal. We made the transit at Condition 3 with many of the Security Force armed and on deck (to repel boarders) due to the assassination of President Sadat of Egypt earlier in the month.

The America kept a CAP over our Battle Group and the Egyptian military patrolled the canal with Helos.

While in the Indian Ocean we also played tag with numerous Russian warships at various times but never engaged.


I have say that USS Preble (DDG 46) was my favorite duty station. I spent 4 years of my life with her and wish I could relive those days yet again. I was assigned to her out of “C” school and since her home port was Pearl Harbor, Iwas sent to San Francisco to catch a MAC flight. The transportation desk at the San Francisco airport saw the home port and sent me on my way to Hawaii. When I arrived, I found out she was currently in San Diego, stuck with an engineering casualty. Since it appeared that she would be there for a while, I was then assigned TAD to Harbor Clearance Unit 1, which was based at Alpha Docks on Hickam Field.

I spent about 3 months with this unit and had a great time. Those Divers were a great bunch of guys and I even got to help a bit on the testing of the MK-12 diving system that replaced the old bronze hardhat suits you always see in the old movies. Those 3 months allowed me to settle into the tropical routine of Hawaii. Once aboard, I found that even as a PO3 I had to pay my dues. Our division was rank heavy due to most of the FTM’s coming aboard as PO3’s so I had to pull Compartment Cleaning duty. It really was not that bad and had to wait for my security clearance to be finalized so I could get access to the Missile House (can you say “Special Weapons”?). Once I was actually working in my rate, life was great.

My least favorite duty station was Boot Camp but not for the reasons you may think. I was actually very bored there. I already had 3 years of high school ROTC under my belt so a lot of it was repetition for me, to the point that I kept falling asleep in class.

Hard to say. My entire active duty time was great, even though I didn’t think so at the end. Being stationed on a ship home-ported in Pearl Harbor was fantastic, especially when we went into the shipyard for a year. It was just like shore duty. Our deployment to the Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf was 212 days long with only 22 days in port so with 3 section duty that meant 197 days aboard ship. There was a lot of monotony and a lot of time to kill. This did allow me to complete a number of Navy correspondence courses along with my Civilian computer course and gave me time to build the associated microcomputer. Unlike nowadays where you just plug everything together to build a computer, I had to actually build all the circuit boards and even build the integrated video monitor.

Military service in general matured me and reinforced what my parents taught me; to be responsible for my actions, a trait that many people seem to lack in this millennium.

USS Preble (DDG 46) earned her 6th and 7th Missile “E” while I was aboard and her 8th, just after I left’; no small task as the only ship in the Navy I was aware of that had a better record was the USS Chicago (CG 11) which was decommissioned in 1980 with 11 straight Missile “E”s. Also, for some reason, my division (GMM’s and FTM’s), were tasked with manning After-Steering while underway. I can remember being sent up to the bridge to learn to steer the ship prior to being assigned to After-Steering watch. I must have done much better than I thought (and than anyone else) because after that, I was assigned as Special Evolution After-Steering Helmsman. I held this position for over 2 years. The only problem with this is I never saw our entrance or exit from a port nor any unreps. But then I guess I didn’t have to pull lines or hump stores.

I’m a “Cold War” vet; Medals/Awards were few and far between back in the day, the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) was just hitting the fleet and was the only badge available to surface guys at the time.

I did receive the Navy Achievement Medal for “Professional Achievement” while in the Persian Gulf in 1981 (awarded by COMMIDEASTFOR). While in the Gulf, we were at Condition 3 the whole time so it was critical that the Missile System remain up and functional. We had a couple of system causalities that I was able to quickly repair (the system was over 20 years at that point) to maintain our state of readiness. If the casualties were not quickly resolved we would have had to pull off the line which would have been a black eye to the command and could have possibly exposed the countries to the east.


GMCS Cris Relyea (RIP Master Chief). He was my Sea Daddy when I first got aboard the ship. He took me under his wing and steered me in the right direction. He was instrumental in my achievements while aboard and after I left the Navy. I still think of himoften. He was such a great guy. He had a command presence that you could feel without his having to force it upon you. You wanted to follow his lead, he didn’t need to coarse or explain why. I wish he was still around so I could thank him again for taking the time to show me the way.

FTCM James Julian was our Division LCPO after GMCS Relyea. He was instrumental in setting the direction of my civilian career. He suggested using a portion of our G.I. Bill benefits to take a “Master’s Course In Micro Computers” from a now defunct company. The interesting thing about the course was that they provided a Heath Kit computer that you built as part of the course and got to keep (with your benefits paying for it). That set the hook and it must have been the right thing for me since I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years and still love my job.

Shellback initiation when we crossed the equator on our way to Australia in 1981. The whole thing was a lot of fun and messy. It helped to break up the monotony of too many days at sea and let everyone blow off some steam. It was all in good fun and luckily before the PC era came around (those that did not want to participate did not have to).

There were way more pollywogs than Shellbacks so they may not have paid as much attention to us as they would have liked but some got special attention. I remember the Operations Department head, LCDR (later VADM) Green getting a lot of personal service. He took it all in stride and had a good time.

Those were the days.

After discharge from Active duty I got into Data Processing (now called Information Technology) and have been in the field ever since. I can thank FTCM Jim Julian for steering me to the correspondence course that I took which got me interested in the field. (The picture looks strange because I was playing with infrared film at the time.)

After receiving my degree, I started out as a Mainframe Computer Operator, became a Programmer/Analyst, then moved up to Systems Programming. During that time, networking came of age and I moved away from the Mainframe to become a Server Engineer. After about 10 years I moved over to the Network Engineer side (still keeping my hand in on the server side).

To date, I am now the Network Architect for a major airport in the US.


United States Naval Institute; It keeps me up to date on what the Navy is doing. NRA Life member (I am a Gunners Mate!), VFW Life member where I am currently at-large but plan to affiliate with a local post.

The Navy taught me so much that I still use every day. I can’t even begin to think how I would have turned out with out it. “A” school gave me the basics (Boot Camp was a breeze for me due to 3 years of high school Army ROTC). “C” School taught me troubleshooting skills that I still use on a day-to-day basis along with how to read and use a manual (a skill many people never acquire, even in the IT field).

Working as a Gunners Mate Missiles was a great experience. You had to have so many skills, mechanical, electrical, electronic, hydraulic, pneumatics, plumbing, weapons, demolition, small arms, etc., etc., and of course, leadership.


1. Be safe but enjoy everything you can. I was “too” military when I was on active duty and regret that I did enjoy more of my time ashore while in port. You may never visit a port again in your life so make all of it you can.

2. Train, train, train! Take advantage of every class and training opportunity you can. An informed mind is thebest tool you can have.

3. Do not be afraid of collateral duties. They can provide exposure to other skills and provide a little spice to your day-to-day duties.


I’ve found old shipmates and made new friends here and probably would not have had either opportunity were it not for this site. I have also used TWS to honor a number of friends and relatives that have passed away by creating Remembrance Profiles for friends and family to view.

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