When I became aware that I was not interested in finishing college in my sophomore year, I sought out the local Coast Guard recruiter, but they were not looking for entry-level recruits at that time. As my draft number was low and I was soon to be status 1A, Dad had served in the Navy in WWII, so I talked to the Navy recruiter and enlisted in December 1971.
The Christy Collection
Military Stories and Articles
Service Reflections of ETNSN John W. Ditmar, Jr., U.S. Navy (1970-1973)
The village I grew up in had a population of around 2000 and was almost surrounded by water, so swimming, fishing, and boating were a natural progression. I loved to watch the bigger boats on Spring Lake and freighters that would come into Grand Haven at a young age. My early years growing up were not much fun.
My father was a good man but was an alcoholic and was mean to my mother and me when he had too much to drink. There was physical violence. My parents never attended church, but some kind neighbors took me a few times with their kids, which opened my eyes to another world. In those days, there was a stigma attached to being an alcoholic, and despite several attempts by myself and others, my father refused any help. This was a time when my conflicting emotions were off the chart.