Sometime during 1947, Keith Fairchild, a Radioman, and I , a
Signalman, both graduates of a Class A school and both checked out in tower
work and aware that the wartime Specialist Y rating standing for tower
operator was going to be a permanent rate of Air Controlman with a Class
A school in sunny NAS Jacksonville, FL, decided that it would be a good career
move to apply for that school if we made the Navy a career. Besides we were
tired of Michigan winters and we deserved a break toscrew off a little at the
Navy's expense, something like an R&R leave..... knowing full well we were
not to have notions along this line. Here was scheme worthy of a sleevewith
many hashmarks. In my case, I wanted to put myself in a situation where I
could test my discipline re studies habits, for I left highschool for the Navy
after my Jr. year with three years of success in atheletics and girls with the
other stuff something to endure. My purpose was to determine whether I could
hack college courses with the GI Bill if I disciplined myself. Wonder of
wonders, the powers- that- be thought it would be excellent to have Fairchild
and me go to AC school for the winter of '47-'48. Well, we got down to NAS
JAX to be welcomed by all hands on the teaching staff to help them pack up the
school that was being relocated to NAS Olathe, KS ! We helped pack and spent
the winter in Olathe freezing our backsides off. The only compensation was
that Kansas City, MO, was the best liberty town a sailor could wish for.
Fairchild and I got thru the school ,with the only new wrinkle for us being
that we received training for work in Combat Information Centers aboard ship.
Also, ACs were expected to know morse code in blinker light; here Fairchild
and I were pressed into being instructors. We got back to GI in early Spring
of '48. I decided to apply to only one college : if accepted , I'd go; if not,
I was career Navy. Another wonder of wonders, for I was accepted in spite of
my dismal highschool record. Fairchild went on to make the Navy a career, as
you can see by his pictures on this site.
Now , a good
sea story would end here, but the Navy wanted some payback for the investment
they had in me. I was in the middle of the first semester of my Jr. year of
college when I received orders to report to NTC Great Lakes to receive further
orders. The Navy needed what I called Xmas help for the Korean War. I managed
to get a deferment until after the end of the semester and checked in to Gt.
Lakes on Jan. 31, '52., suffering from a monumental hangover from a party my
frat had thrown a reserve Yeoman and me. Here I received orders for NAS Corpus
Christ. Got down there the day that that egoist Douglas MacArthur was making
his 'old soldiers never die" speech to Congress, the very one who thought it a
general's prerogativeto make foreign policy instead of his Commander in Chief.
The main mission of Corpus was to train aviators in instrument flight. Some
brief highlights of that duty........
* Got to work my first real-life stack
* Took night courses at a Jr. College top finish out my Jr.
* We were training French aviators in instrument and
sending them SB2cs for their conflict in a
weird place called Viet Nam.
* Married to a college girl and gave her brother, a fleet
appointment Academy grad, landing
* Got my first taste working of working with GCA,
one right next to the prevailing -wind runway.
* Experienced the rigors of the mixed traffic of jets and
* Found that my experience at GI as a tower operator
stood me in good stead in a high volume
* Bilged out May 27, '52, and didn't re-up when my
reserve enlistment expired. Wonder of wonders, and with only 14 years of
active duty to qualify for retirement pay !
By the way, does anyone recall how troublesome it was for the
crash crew to keep the runways clear of deer and dogs ?
Or how much French influence there was in down-river Detroit,
where you'd see signs on meat markets advertising fresh muskrat as a special.
Only Yankee cajuns would eat that kind of stuff.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Copyright © 2005NASGIVM All rights reserved.
Revised: August 05, 2010