Navy Daze (#4)  

SteveandJennie 59M/58F  
6 posts
11/30/2021 2:58 pm
Navy Daze (#4)


From age 18 20, I worked at a manufacturing plant, making more than minimum wage. As anyone works for that amount knows, 's impossible do more than live from paycheck paycheck and sometimes not even that. We were dirt poor and frequently stole food from mice and squirrels to make ends meet.

Shortly after getting married, my wife became sick. might been the flu. During this time, she became nauseous and threw up. I had never seen anyone heave so violently. My worry for her became panic when, as the ejection force of her stomach contents peaked, she fell and lay limp on the floor.

With God as my witness, I thought she had died.

A dozen thoughts flew through my mind. Had she eaten something rotten? Would the cops think that I had poisoned my wife? Where could I bury the body? Could I stuff her in a trash bag? Did they sell trash bags in a size eight? The questions were moot. After a few moments that seemed longer than they were, she re-gained consciousness. It was a good thing. I don't think I could've afforded a box of trash bags.

Did I mention that we were poor?

We lived in a one-bedroom apartment that formerly belonged to my uncle. Our form of transportation was a bicycle. This wasn't as bad as sounds. Our apartment was located across the street from a grocery store, and my job was three miles away. We couldn't afford a car, yet were many times when we both needed run around town for one reason or the other. When the two of us needed to go somewhere together, Jennie rode on the handlebars while I peddled. I wish I was making that up. Believe me, was a pathetic sight. Nevertheless, she and I back on this time with fond memories. We come a long way since then.

After a year of living on more than bologna and love, I decided that nothing was going change unless I took drastic measures. I considered joining the U.S. Navy and discovered I could make more in the military. Their advertisement was: The Navy: It's not just a job, it's an adventure. The two of us discussed it and decided try out.

As anyone has been in the military knows, you don't just "try it out." Once the papers are signed, you're in for the long haul. I joined the U.S. Navy on January , 1983; I was a over 20 years old. The day I left for boot camp was the<b> first time </font></b>my wife and I had ever been apart for more than 24 hours since our first date.

My bus ride Great Lakes, Illinois, that day seemed like the longest trip of my life. I had a lot of time think during a journey what could be another life, world, or even a parallel universe for all I knew. Nevertheless, I went confident that I could succeed and provide a better life for my bride.

I overheard many rumors about boot camp during the ride , few of which had any grain of truth in them. These rumors scared new recruits as they hopped off the bus, trying navigate their way the barracks where they'd spend the next three months. Fortunately, I wasn't as naïve as my constituents. My dad was in the Army Reserves and had previously told me many colorful stories about his experiences in boot camp.

The one that stands out the most in my memory was his story of the mosquito. During boot camp, my dad lined up with the other recruits one early morning. Standing at attention, they quietly listened to the DI (Drill Instructor) as he informed them of what to expect that day. Without warning, one of the recruits swatted a mosquito that had landed on his forehead.

When the DI saw that one of the recruits had moved without permission, he demanded an explanation. Upon hearing it, he asked to see the insect's corpse. The recruit produced what was left of it and the DI insisted that the platoon give the thing a proper burial.

While the squad busied themselves gathering digging tools, the DI found a matchbox that he used as a suitable coffin. He ordered the squad to dig a standard grave approximately 6 foot long by 3 foot wide, at a 6 foot depth. This feat took several hours as each man rotated in the work detail. Needless to say, everyone was quite angry with the individual had swatted the mosquito, my dad included.

Afterwards, when the insect was buried and the grave was filled with dirt, the DI questioned the recruits as to the whereabouts of the deceased mosquito. They assured him that it was in the matchbox, at the bottom of the grave. Naturally, the DI didn't feel confident in their answer. The way know for certain, he said, was dig back up and see for himself. He ordered the recruits dig the hole a second time.

Several hours later, they found the matchbox at the bottom of the hole, exactly where they had buried . The body of the mosquito was still . After filling the hole a second time, the recruits learned a valuable lesson. No one ever moved again while standing at attention. Whether my dad's story is true or not is debatable. Nevertheless, it illustrated the importance of not drawing attention to oneself.

As I mentioned earlier, I knew what I was getting into when I joined the military. Part of the reason I joined the Navy was so that was no chance I'd run into the Army DI that trained my dad's squad. Still, I was prepared for the worst.

One of the things I expected was that boot camp would require a more strenuous regimen of physical exercise. As a weightlifter, I wasn't worried about the strength requirements so much as I was the endurance aspect. I was not a runner.

As turned out, I didn't need worry. Our longest run was a mile and a half. Not was the physical fitness testing a breeze pass, but I lost 20 pounds during boot camp, due inadequate stress on my physique. Thirty pushups a day doesn't replace bench-pressing 250 pounds for three sets of at three times a week. Still, a good portion of that was fat loss.

Some of my weight loss was because boot camp chow is all but inedible. was the<b> first time </font></b>I had ever seen real green eggs, which I later learned was a powder-based type of instant egg. While in boot camp, I wrote my wife when I could, and often complained about the chow. She thought I was exaggerating. When she came up Great Lakes see my graduation from boot camp, she tasted for herself. The expression on her face was priceless.

I went a Navy school learn and train in the field of gas turbine engines. I wanted be a GS, a Gas Turbine Systems Technician. Prior enlistment, I picked this rating specifically because I wanted get a job as an aircraft mechanic when I got out in four years. As an incentive choose the GS rating, and because was difficult keep filled, the Navy began my enlistment as an E-3 instead of an E1. After four years, people left make more as aircraft mechanics in the civilian world. In the event military didn't pan out for me, this is what I hoped do as well. This was my mindset going into the .

Near the end of boot camp, I learned that were two different branches this rating a mechanical side (GSM) and an electrical side (GSE). I had my hopes, plans, and dreams set on being a mechanic, one of the few things I thought I could be good at. Guess which one I got. That's right, the electrical side. I couldn't been more disappointed.

All I knew about electricity was that it was invisible, dangerous, and made a poor bathtub companion. The Navy didn't care that me and a buddy wanted switch schools. He was in the boat as me, a GSM wanted be a GSE; he couldn't tell the difference between a crowbar and a monkey wrench. this day, I still don't understand why they didn't let us swap ratings.

We both did the best we could with the cards we were dealt. I spent the next four years working on the gas turbines that propelled and generated electricity for Navy destroyers, a.k.a. aircraft carrier shields. Thankfully, we never had get between a carrier and a torpedo, but I was pretty sure I wouldn't liked if we had.

Initially I joined the Navy with the intention of making it a career. Even now, I can recall the excitement that filled me on that first day in boot camp, marching in unison with my squad. I was part of a team, something greater than myself. My wife and family was proud of me. I was serving my country and making decent doing .

During boot camp, I discovered that the Navy has a different vocabulary than the rest of the world. What the world calls a door, the Navy calls a hatch. The floor is the deck, the walls are the bulkhead, the kitchen is the galley, the dining room is the mess, food is chow, the bathroom is the head, your hat is a cover, our bed was a bunk, and on it went. Port, starboard, fore, aft, mast, berth, and a hundred other terms know. Even clock time was measured differently; what time was 2350 anyway? was like learning a new language.

Slowly, over the next few years, my enthusiasm for the career that was "more than a just job" dissolved until became drudgery. My hitch devolved into nothing more than doing time. I might as well spent my enlistment behind prison bars for all the joy brought me. The reasons for this are many and varied, but delve into them is beyond the scope of both this blog and this post.

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