Navy Boot Camp - Ma, 1969 & God's Sense of Humor

Who says God has no sense of humor.

It was about November, 1968, during my 4th semester in college at age 22 that I was called in for my 2nd physical at the Draft Board. Even though I had the coveted college deferment. This was also before the infamous Lottery.

After the physical, I was told that the next time around I would be drafted into the Army.

Well, not wanting to be in the infantry &/or go to Vietnam, my best friend and I decided to check out the Navy recruiter in Feb., 1969, and ended up joining the Navy on a 90-day delayed enlistment program.

So, come May 8, 1969, we shipped out from Shreveport, LA, to San Diego for 12-weeks of training in Navy RTC Company 69-332 where we learned to tie knots, put out fires, stand security watches, fold our clothes, march in step, fire lots of guns and many other coveted skills, many of which were never used again.

While in Boot Camp, I learned the value of "bartering" for favors. As the Company Yeoman (clerk), I learned to trade off assigning guys from the dreaded mid-watch (midnight to 0400) to other, more desirable times in exchange for them washing my clothes and making my bunk. What a racket I had going.

Our Company Commander, QMC Woods, was a great leader in that he often left the Company Staff (about 5 of us) in charge almost every night while he went home to his own bed. We learned to be in charge of 60-some odd other boot campers and ran a pretty orderly Company during his absence. I think this contributed to early leadership skills during my enlistment and for the rest of my life. Thank you Chief Woods.

Now, back to God's sense of humor: I joined the Navy to stay out of Vietnam and ended up with a Naval Special Warfare group called Beach Jumper Unit ONE which had teams in Vietnam. However, my tour to WESTPAC for 6-months TDY only included 3-months floating around off the coast of Vietnam onboard the USS Iwo Jima, but that's all another story.

« Previous story
Next story »