The closer the election gets, the more difficult it is to have a conversation or read anything online without politics creeping in. This is an exception.
Why I enlisted in the Navy
I enlisted in the US Navy in August 1966 under a deferment program. I had 90 days to make preparations for leaving civilian life. The draft notice Uncle Sam had sent me was voided by the enlistment. I was property of the sea service.
On 29 November, 1966 I arrived at the induction center in Chicago, Illinois at about 6 am. I was very early. Eventually, someone unlocked the center. I was told they were not ready to begin processing new recruits and sent to a waiting area. I was told someone would call me when it was my turn.
Too scared not to, I followed directions verbatim. I sat for several hours waiting. I watched many men my age enter and be taken to other rooms. My patience exhausted, sore from sitting on an uncomfortable chair, I stopped a passing sailor to explain my concerns. This caused a stir because the processing was nearly complete for the day.
I was hustled to a room where I filled out forms and took tests before undergoing a physical. After getting dressed, I was given a folder with my paperwork. I was taken to a room where recruits were receiving their assignments for boot camp.
Getting to San Diego Navy Recruit Training Center
I entered and placed my folder in the tray on the desk. My folder became the topmost folder. I was the last one through processing but would be the next considered. The sailor picked up my folder and called me to his desk. He reviewed my paperwork and asked me to select San Diego, California or Great Lakes, Illinois for boot camp. I took the last opening for San Diego Naval Recruit Training Center given that day, 29 November 1966.
I was one of three recruits that boarded a flight to San Diego, California that afternoon. I would spend the winter in balmy California. As it turned out, the recruits at Great Lakes suffered through a very cold snowy winter. I endured rain in San Diego.
No Holiday Break
Boot camp did not break for holidays. I spent Christmas and New Years with my company. The highlight of training came the day my Father, a Senior Chief Petty Officer, came to visit. His ship remained in port long enough for him to attend my graduation. (He deployed to Tonkin Gulf off Viet Nam shortly after I graduated.) If you read my welcome blog, you know he recommended I join the Navy. *He also encouraged my two younger brothers to enlist when they turned 19.*
In retrospect, it is clear these series of events foreshadowed many times during my career when fortune shined on me. I had arrived before anyone and was the last processed. As a result, I selected the last assignment to San Diego and missed the awful winter experienced by Great Lakes. And had I gone to Great Lakes, my father could not have visited or been present at my graduation. Fortune smiled.
I would enjoy hearing if fortune or a lucky talisman has shined on you.