I left Naval Radio Station, Northwest, in January 1970 en route to the Naval Security Group Department, Wahiawa, Hawaii. Once more, they assigned me to the HFDF maintenance shop.
As at Northwest, I repaired and calibrated R-1230 receivers and AN/FSH-7 one-inch, multichannel magnetic recorders when not supporting the CP-771/UYK-3.
It might sound impressive to be responsible for keeping millions of dollars of sensitive electronic equipment operational. It is impressive! But it was primarily dull work.
The receivers rarely failed but did require routine calibration. It was a tedious process that I won’t detail because it would likely put you to sleep reading it.
The recorders were more interesting to support. The routine maintenance involved cleaning the vacuum pads to remove dust so the tape tracked correctly. The exciting work was identifying and correcting failures in the many circuit boards. Problems could be in the power supply, signal input, or processing circuits that put the signals onto the magnetic tape.
Then, there were field days. It sounds like a nice afternoon picnicking, doesn’t it? It wasn’t. A field day was a different form of maintenance. It was stripping and waxing floors, cleaning bathrooms, dusting equipment, and ancillary things.
I have mentioned my love for bowling in other places. It began in Hawaii when I joined the maintenance department’s intramural team. We bowled at the base bowling alley, which I remember had four lanes, and air conditioning was the sliding vents on each side of the outer lanes. I bowled my first 600 series in a base tournament shortly before transferring to my following duty station.
My brother’s ship, the USS Tombigbee, returned from a deployment to the Tokin Gulf for upkeep and availability. Cletus and his friend, Dan, convinced me to join a bowling league in Pearl City. They were better bowlers but put up with my mediocre performances.
It was great spending time with Cletus at the bowling alley and other places. One time was to a luau. We drove over Kolekole Pass, by the large white cross, and down a winding road to get there. The Army removed the cross in 1997 as a result of a lawsuit.
I had two more noteworthy experiences there. I was caught in a riptide while snorkeling off Waikiki. I remember swimming at an angle to the tide and soon broke free. Wearing flippers helped. Sometime during the swim, I punctured my heel on a piece of coral that required treatment.
Second, I experienced a bleeding ulcer that hospitalized me in 1970. The first symptoms were loss of energy and a sick stomach. Then, I noticed black stools. The corpsman, I didn’t see a doctor then, called it a case of the flu. Two days later, they took me to Tripler Army Hospital by ambulance. I had expelled blood that decorated the bathroom walls and floor. Two units of blood later, I was placed in a ward where I remained for a month.
Sometime in 1971, I learned of the ADCOP program. It was the Navy’s Associate Degree Completion Program. Sailors spent two years at a junior college and would earn an associate degree. I applied, and a committee selected me to attend Del Mar Junior College in Corpus Christi, Texas.
In July 1972, I transferred to Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas, to attend college.