Sea Duty and the Next Chapter

In the spring of 1953, several of my classmates and I decided to skip school, travel to the next town, and take the necessary tests for entry into the United States Navy. I think there were four of us, two of whom bailed out early, while Bill and I passed the written exams and were accepted for enlistment later that year, after we graduated.  Bill went in the summer and I in the late fall, precisely November 5th. Up until my arrival at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, California,  I can’t recall ever being in a boat much less gazing on a large body of water.  Why the Navy?  Probably because my three older brothers had served in the Army/Air force and I just had to be different. Little did I suspect that my “get-away” would last for 21 years and change my life taking me to places I had only dreamed of.

It would be almost a year before I experienced my first “sea duty”, as I first had to finish 16 weeks of “boot camp”, then sixteen more weeks of Radioman School, followed by what was scheduled to be 8 weeks of training to be a Submariner, at New London, Connecticut.  That eight weeks was shortened to just two, after three buddies and I decided spontaneously that sub school wasn’t for us and  we needed to get to the “Fleet”.  The school administration was so insulted that they immediately cut our orders for the unglamorous  ships in the “Gater Navy”, in Norfolk, Virginia.

For the next 18 months I served onboard the USS Mount Olympus, a Navy communications ship, where I was to experience that life that I felt I was searching for.  The work/duties were not glamorous, but I was seeing the world; thrilling to life on board a ship riding out a hurricane at hurricane anchorage off of Chesapeake Bay, transiting the Panama Canal, sailing into San Diego Bay as I had witnessed during basic training  and transiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where I endured my first and only bout of sea sickness, through the Bearing Straits into the Arctic Ocean in support of Operation Dew Line, off Point Barrow Alaska, and being temporarily trapped in the ice pack.  They are fond memories that can not be duplicated ashore.  No more at sea standing “mail buoy” watches, nor being sent to collect a “bucket of steam” from Engineering, and being the duty “go-for”, I had moved on to what most married sailors aspire to – Shore Duty.

Now let me share with you our next adventure on the domain of Neptunis Rex as my mate of 49 years and I embark on a 39  day adventure to India, Arabia, and the Moorish Empire, on board the marvelous Holland America’s ms Rotterdam.

Let the preparations begin……..

4 thoughts on “Sea Duty and the Next Chapter

  1. I love the start to your new adventure. I can just see the young Jack off on his first taste of Navy life. Don’t take offense with me but could you please change the name to Strait of Juan de Fuca. Straits is a mistake a lot of people make but that doesn’t make it correct. I know you take great pains to give us a good journey and I want it to start off perfectly. I’ll be along with you and Barbara enjoying your every port. Gwen

  2. Congratulations! That sure didn’t take too long to book a new excursion 😉 I’ve been thinking of you two this last week. Maybe I knew you were booking!!! I start a part time position at the local fabric store tomorrow! Pretty excited. So glad to hear your news. Hello Barbara!!
    xoxo laurie

  3. I know we have been silent for a long time, however I read and follow your travels. We are pretty much home bound now. Ralph is on oxygen 24/7, plus we have a new puppy that keeps us happy and young. Funny I don’t miss cruising as much as I thought I would. I’ve arranged my days as tho I am on board and am totally enjoying being home. Say hello to Barbara, your offical photographer, and I will await each post with baited breath.

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