I was a naïve farm boy from Minnesota and enlisted in the Navy, winding up in San Diego for Boot Camp. The first morning I heard garbage cans being rattled all over the place, and the meanest-looking Chief doing it for our “wake-up call.” I told him I might be needing to use the bathroom after breakfast, and he informed me that when my feet hit the deck, I had better use the bathroom then because we were not stopping later! To this day, I take care of business early!
One of the reasons I joined the Navy was to learn how to swim. The water was so cold in Minnesota, and I was always busy on the farm. I would walk by the huge indoor pool in San Diego and knew I would soon be tested. When my turn came, I was gently guided to jump in the 20 feet of water – and sank like lead. The instructor gave me a cane pole to hold onto and then let me sink again. Finally, he said to not climb the pole but get close to the edge and asked me if I wanted to learn how to swim or get kicked out of the Navy and go back to Walnut Grove, Minnesota and tell my buddies I got booted out! I replied that I wanted to be taught, and that I would listen because I wanted to swim. He took me under his wing, and I turned out to be a fairly good swimmer!