“What did you do in the Navy?”
Those familiar with the military would understand a member usually changes duties as he or she promotes. How mine changed follows.
I entered the Navy at the lowest enlisted rank available. I remained a Seaman Recruit, E-1, for the duration of Bootcamp, thirteen weeks. Then, they promoted me to Seaman Apprentice, E-2, upon graduation for “basic” training.
The classifier said my language test scores were high, and he wanted me to become an interpreter. Many will remember this was 1966, and the United States was involved in Viet Nam. The classifier was straightforward; I would be learning Vietnamese or Chinese. I had years of Latin and French but had no desire to spend my career working in another language. So, I guarantee I wouldn’t by agreeing to extend my four-year enlistment to six years in return for training in the advanced electronics field.
Technical Career Begins
I reported to Basic Electronics and Electricity Preparatory Course in San Diego, California, after my Bootcamp leave. It was a six-week preparatory school to further training at the A-school for electronic technicians. “A” school was In three phases and conducted on Treasure Island, located between San Francisco and Oakland, California. I was promoted to Seaman, E-3, as I neared the end of the first phase.
In the second phase, I changed my rating from electronics technician (ET) to communications technician maintenance, a CTM. However, changing the rating didn’t shorten the schooling since “M” branchers needed the same training. It was now December 1967 when I completed “A” school. Remember, I enlisted in November 1966, and I had been in Bootcamp or schools for over a year.
I began to wonder if the Navy was making me a professional student when I received an assignment to a Class-C school after Treasure Island. So I reported to Naval Technical Training Center, Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida, to study computer repair. (Years later, I would be course manager and an instructor for the same course.) The course taught me to maintain and repair the Bunko Ramo UYK-3 computer. Successful completion of the school earned me a promotion to E-3 and orders to Naval Radio Station, Northwest, Virginia.
I spent the next five years working rotating shifts maintaining the computer and other systems that I learned through on-the-job training.
I worked shifts at the Naval Security Group (NSG) Department (NSGD), Wahiawa, Hawaii, in the Spring of 1972. I made E-5 here. Fortunately, the Navy wasn’t through educating me yet. One day, my supervisor called me to inform me of my selection to the Navy’s Associates Degree Completion Program (ADCOP). The Navy sent me to Corpus Christi, Texas, where I attended Del Mar College. I left Corpus Christi with my Associates in Electronics Engineering Technology Degree in 1974.
Though I had the new degree, I still was detailed as a computer technician. That is why I ended up at the NSG Activity (NSGA), Keflavik, Iceland, and then at NSGA, San Vito, Italy.
If you have read this far, thank you!
Less being a Technician
My duties changed in Iceland. True, I spent many nights and weekends repairing the computer because it had a habit of failing at inopportune times. But, my “most time” role was as a maintenance shop supervisor. My promotion to E-6 made me senior to most of my fellow technicians and, therefore, appropriate for me to supervise a shop. Some technicians desire to remain technicians; I wanted off the bench.
Some things that happen during a career can only be accepted. For example, they sent me to San Vito, claiming the shop needed another computer technician. But, there were three other techs in my field already there. So, it wasn’t long before the Department Chief moved me out of the shop and into the administrative office. It became the turning point in my career, preparing me to run a department one day. The next Chief Petty Officer selection board selected me for E-7, Cryptologic Technician Maintenance Chief (CTMC). It was 1978.
All of my remaining assignments were to positions involving management. Finally, in 1979, I was sent back to Corry Station. I became course manager and instructor for the same course I graduated from in 1967.
1982 I was detailed to NSGA Galeta Island, Panama, as the Electronics Material Officer. I was a Department Head with two shops of technicians. Not long after I arrived, one of my computer technicians called me into the operations spaces. He took me to the UYK-3 he supported and removed the front panel. He pointed to my name written inside the cover. This was the same troublesome computer I had fought with while in Keflavik 1974-76.
October 1984, I was assigned as the manager of the classified computer center in the National Computer Security Center at NSA. While there, I was commissioned as a Chief Warrant Officer 2 and attended another school in Pensacola, an introduction to being a warrant officer.
October 1987, I was detailed as Electronic Material Officer to NSGA, Adak, Alaska. I had a department with 55 technicians in three shops.
My last tour was at NSGA Potomac, Washington, DC, from the Spring of 1989 and ended in March 1992. I was the Facilities Officer responsible for supporting the Classic Wizard sites around the world.
Are you still reading? Thank you very much!
This is a summary of my twenty-five years, three months, and two days in the United States Navy without any official sea time.
- ! entered the Navy as a lowly Seaman Recruit and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 3.
- I spent five-plus years working rotating shifts maintaining the UYK-3 and other systems.
- I was an instructor and course manager for three years.
- I managed a maintenance department as a Chief Petty Officer and one as a Chief Warrant Officer 2.
- I managed a classified computer facility supporting a team of computer security research staff.
- I ended my career in a role supporting five Classic Wizard operational sites.
- I spent just shy of nineteen years as an enlisted and the remaining years as a Presidential commissioned officer.