Time flies by, so fast you see, I am sure you would never remember me!
I did my time in Service in three different Branches. I did the U.S. Army first and failed there after only six months, due to immaturity and family health problems. I was a M-80 Tank retriver driver by MOS.
I moved on though to the Army National Guard in Naugatuck, CT. Where I became a Machine Gunner Scout for 4 years.
Then when there were no jobs in my town and area in December of 1978, I joined the US Navy and became a sailor and a Boiler Technician/ Engineer.
When I finished I had served my country for 16 years total and I was married and had two daughters. I fell in January 1982 aboard my first ship the USS Dahlgren and was flown to Germany, where they worked on me for a year to fix my back so I could stay in. I did stay until 1989, when a Navy Doctor offered me back surgery or Medical Discharge. I refused the back surgery, because i didn’t trust Navy Doctors to perform it and was discharged Honorably under Medical Conditions.
I was no hero, I was no great sailor, Soldier in anyway, what I was was a patriot and a man who believes in America and what it stands for. I now am 63 years old and 1989 my discharge date is now coming up in July again as an Anniversary for me. I have some fond memories of The Army National Guard and those I served with there and some great memories of the US Navy, and those i served wth there also.
Recently, I was on the internet looking around at the websites built, for the ships I served on. And as fate would have it, the first Ship I was on The USS Dahlgren DDG-43, has a website on Facebook that covered the yearbooks. While looking through the photographs, I came by one of the #2 Fire Room Crew in 1980, and there I was. I was amazed to see myself in the photo first and foremost, but secndly, I was amazed at how young I was.
When I went through a divorce in 1990 to 1992, yes it took two years to complete because both of us were reluctant to pay for it, only. I lost all I owned to my ex-wife in the divorce and waked away to start over. My Uniforms were gone and destroyed and thrown away and so was any memories of my years in service in any branch.
Well, now I have only three photos of myself in any branch of service to my name. One is the US Army me in Dress Uniform, thanks to a very old friend I gave it to. The second is when I came home from Boot Camp and A School on leave, and was taken with my mother, in my working whites summer of 1980. The one online for The Dahlgren is now the third of me in working uniform with the #2 Fire Room crew.
I have no photos of me on The USS Monongahela AO 178 at all, I don’t remember any yearbook photos taken there. Nor is there any of me aboard my final ship The USS Ponce LPD 15, because i didn’t stay I left quickly when my injuries flared up.
I was not in love with The Dahlgren yet I stayed and served until my fall, The Mono was a great ship and crew, and a great experience. The Ponce was old, decrepit and the crew on it sucked. I was glad to go when I left.
But the point is this I am not one to be remembered for much in life, but I did my 16 years and my injuries still affect me at 63 and Uncle Sam cares for me these days. I have some fond memories of certain sailors and soldiers also I served with. I won’t name any, but I will say this, we drank, we laughed, we explored and we worked our asses off every moment we had at sea and in port on duty. I have built into me a pride of service and dedication to my country and will die with it in me and if I had to do it again, I probably would!
Today, as I stated I am now 63 years old, my hair is mostly gone, my wrinkles now show and my beard is all gray like what’s left of my hair. I have lived a life. full of ups and downs and recoveries and more. It’s been a wild ride but a good one folks!
I have survived my service time, survived a rough childhood and my injuries, a marriage and divorce and recovered and have been married to the same woman now for 26 years. I have survived Lung Cancer also and have been helping my wife survive breast cancer now metastasized into her bones since 2005, when it was first discovered.
So when some people look at me and go I remember you, they don’t remember the good times, or the things I did to survive or get along or help or the duties performed in service. Nor do they remember me as a happy go lucky guy, or a fun loving dude. They do know I did my job and that’s all that counts. I never was happy locked aboard a ship or a land based station, but I did it for my family, my wife and my daughters as long as I could for job security It was all for me a job I had no choice in doing, not one I wanted to excel in, for me it was a necessity only. I have my DD-214s folks from each branch, each says the same thing, Discharged under Honorable Conditions! When I count them they number one from the Army, one from the Army National Guard and three from The U.S. Navy!
Some can judge my character, some may have hated my personality, and some may have hated me period, I made decisions many disagreed with but one thing I can say about my life in or out of service is what Frank Sinatra Said of his, ” I DID IT MY WAY!”