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Military Life

I left my boyhood home on a dairy farm September 6, 1955, shortly after my seventeenth birthday, to join the Navy. I was sent to the Naval Training Center NTC Bainbridge, MD for Boot Camp, where I was placed in Company 447 as an Airman Recruit(E-1). I remained there until November 1955. Upon completion of "Boots" I was awarded an Airman Apprentice rate(E-2).

In early December 1955 I arrived at Norman, Oklahoma to attend Airman "P" School at the Naval Air Technical Training Center. I was placed in Class 55-50 which was the last one of the year. Here we were taught a little about all of the various Ratings that were involved in Naval Aviation. I decided to become an Aviation Structural Mechanic.

I left Norman near the end of February 1956, being transferred to the Naval Aviation Technical Training Center at Memphis, TN. Here I attended, and graduated from, Aviation Structural Mechanic "A" School Class 56-09 during June 1956. At the completion of six months in the Navy I was awarded the rate of Airman(E-3). I was taught the basics of my rating while working with the F4U "Corsair" Aircraft.

After completion of "A" School, I was ordered to Corry Field Naval Auxiliary Air Station at Pensacola, FL where I worked on SNJ "Texan" Trainer Aircraft. In November 1956 I was rated as an Aviation Structural Mechanic Third Class(E-4). This was my first experience with what I thought of as the real Navy, and I enjoyed my tour of duty there.

I remained there a little more than a year until September, 1957. I then was ordered to Patrol Squadron 8 (VP 8) which was home based at Quonset Point, RI. In November of 1957 I was rated as an Aviation Structural Mechanic Second Class(E-5). The Squadron operated the P2V5F "Neptune" aircraft on Anti-submarine Warfare, and Search and Rescue duty. Early in 1958 I was part of a detachment of three aircraft, associated flight crews, and necessary maintenance personnel sent to operate from Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada.

At this time VP 8 was selected to be the patrol squadron associated with Task Group Alfa, a concept developed for protection of the East Coast of the United States. We were therefore assigned a new home port at the Naval Air Station Chincoteague, VA.

I remained there attached to VP 8 from June of 1958 until January 1959 at which time we (I got married in December 1958) were once more moved, this time to Breezy Point, located on the Naval Air Station at Norfolk, VA. In November of 1959 I attained the rate of Aviation Structural Mechanic First Class(E-6). I was there until April, 1960, during which time I flew as enlisted flight crew on the P2V5F aircraft.

In April 1960 I was ordered to leave my beloved VP 8 and move to Jacksonville, FL. There, I was stationed aboard Cecil Field Naval Air Station attached to the Fighter Squadron 174 Hell Razors.

This Squadron was my first meeting with Jet aircraft. We were a training squadron for the F8U "Crusader". All pilots and maintenance personnel entering any Crusader Squadron on the East Coast were first sent to VF 174 for training.

After three years with the Hell Razors, once more it was time to pack up and leave for a new home. This time I received orders to Utility Squadron Ten (VU 10) homebased at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I arrived there in August 1963. Three months later, in November, I was initiated as a Chief Petty Officer with the rate of Aviation Structural Mechanic Chief(E-7). I spent three years in this Utopia all the while associated with the F8 Aircraft. One of the main functions of this squadron was the towing of target banners for gunnery practice.

The US2C aircraft was used for this purpose. They were converted S2F "Stoof"s, those venerable old workhorses of the fleet. They had been modified with the installation of a winch for operation of the target banner cable. Although I personally did not work with this branch of the squadron, I was around many times when the banner would be stretched out on the ground to count "hits". Several aircraft used the targets at the same time, but each aircraft had different color painted bullets so it was not hard to keep score.

As well as the F8's and S2F's, we also had KD2R5 Drones. We actually sent these things out and let pilots shoot at them. They were not supposed to hit them, but rather have close misses which would register as hits.

During November 1966 it was a sad farewell as my wife and I said goodbye to Gtmo and packed our bags for a transfer to Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi, where I was attached to VT 9 a Jet Basic Training Command.

The Squadron's mission was to teach pilots basic Jet flying. The T2A and T2B "Buckeye" aircraft were used for this purpose. By this time I was a Senior Chief Petty Officer(E-8), and was placed in charge of the Maintenance Control Division. I was responsible for all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on nearly 100 aircraft, with some 350 men to complete this task.

After three wonderful years in the sunny south at Meridian we were off to NAS Lemoore, CA. I was first attached to VA 122 for familiarization of the A7E "Corsair II" Aircraft. In reality, this was a severe modification of the F8 Aircraft which I was quite familiar with. Then I was transferred to Attack Squadron 25 (VA 25)"Fist of the Fleet". This was supposed to be my home for the next three years.

After some 4 months in California, I decided it was time for the Navy and myself to go our separate ways. I spent about 14 years and seven months in the U S Navy. I enjoyed that time, but that was enough. My discharge date arrived and I accepted my fourth, and final, Honorable Discharge.


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