In 1962, I was 19 years old, at loose ends in my life, and facing the draft. I didn’t relish infantry duty in Vietnam, so I decided to enlist in the Navy. As a Midwestern boy, I had only seen the ocean a couple of times, and when the recruiter told me I was to be sent to San Diego for boot camp, I was excited. I told the recruiter that I didn’t want to go to the Great Lakes training center in the winter. I was in luck because RTC San Diego was accepting new drafts of recruits.
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Friends from my home town. One of my best friends from school joined the Navy and was stationed on the carrier Bon Homme Richard CVA-31 came home on leave and was wearing his Navy uniform. Being from a town 45 miles from an Army Base (Ft Huachuca), the Navy uniform seemed much more impressive than the Army fatigues that I was used to seeing. Plus, I was intrigued because I had never seen the ocean or any body of water bigger than the watering tank of a local cattle rancher. Also, to think that ships could have a larger population than the town I was living in was amazing. I needed to get out of town to a place where I would have the opportunity to develop my talents to more than being a service station attendant pumping gas at one of the local gas stations. I was all in for a career in the Navy.
My father, SF1 Roy D. Collins, was in the Navy from Feb. 1941 to 1961. As a consequence of that, I went to school in San Diego (Kindergarten), Seattle (first grade), Guam (second grade), Chi Chi Jima (no school), San Diego (4th & 5th grade), Hawaii (6th to half of the 8th grade) and back to San Diego for 8th to 12th grades). I graduated in June 1964.
Montel Williams is best known as the Emmy Award-winning host of The Montel Williams Show, which aired nationally for seventeen years. Montel Brian Anthony Williams, known to most as simply “Montel,” is also an actor and motivational speaker. But did you know that Montel Williams served in the military? His decorated military service spanned 22 years in two branches of the service—the United States Marines and the United States Navy. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1974 and later became the...