September 1984, I was working at a steak restaurant in Portland, Maine. I had been there for quite some time. I had been trained and worked in each position and was even given the responsibility to unlock and open up in the morning. I was essentially an assistant manager, but without the title, or the pay. I had been led to believe that when a position opened up, it would be mine. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at work one afternoon and was asked to train the new assistant manager. My boss explained that even though I had worked there and knew the business, the new guy had attended a vocational school and had a certificate in hotel/motel/restaurant management. The next day I called the same school attempting to enroll and was disappointed to be told that the program was full for that session; I would have to wait another 16 weeks to enroll.
At that very instant, it was as if someone had flipped a switch in my head. I would join the Navy. I had never even considered the military, but my path was clear. I found the address for the local recruiter took the tests and signed up. During the process we determined I was a good candidate to be a Sonar Technician (of course I had no idea what that was). They asked if I wanted to be on surface ships or submarines. I asked what the difference was and was told Submarines paid an extra $100 a month. Sign me up.
I should mention that I made this decision without discussing it with anyone. So like the time when I played hide-and-seek with Mom, she was just a bit upset when I asked for a ride to the airport.
I arrived at boot-camp in April 1985 and graduated in June 1985. My life would never be the same. After the initial shock of being yelled at for 18 hours a day and made to do push-ups when my bunk was not just right I took to the Navy like a fish…or a Sailor to water. I loved it. The next 9 years were among the best of my life (well, so far anyway).
I had the opportunity to travel the world and see places that most people only dream about.
I’ll attempt to describe some of my adventures, at least those that are not still classified. It really is true, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.
The first stories I’ll share are from a book we started during the home port change of the U.S.S. Helena from Groton, CT. to Pearl Harbor, HI. Somehow we just knew it would be an adventure worth documenting. You should be warned, it was penned by sailors, mostly in their 20s. Understandably, their language was that of sailors and so it may at times be just a bit foul. But other than that I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed living it. If you happen to be one of the few that lived it along with me….HAHDF!
Oddly enough, the first story in “the book” as it was called on the boat (submarine) by those that knew about it was written 20 years ago today. August 25th, 1988.
If you wonder what kind of a nut would volunteer for the Submarine service, you might be surprised – Dr. Joyce Brothers thought Risk is an Inspiration in Submarine Service