Dad was a WWII and Korea Navy vet and from the time I was in grade school, I knew I would join the Navy. In early 1967 I caught a flight in a little Cessnae and aviation was added to my wish list. When I joined in November of '67 I joined as an ATAN since my GCT/ARI scores boosted me to that possibility. Booted in San Diego, "A" School in March at NATTC Memphis. Sadly, we lost Martin Luther King Jr there three weeks after I arrived. Transferred to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 5 in '68 for one year where I qualified as a helicopter rescue crewman and proudly wore the gold Navy Aircrew Wings. Sent to Fleet Tactical Support Squadron 24 in Dec '69 and flew radio/nav in C-130s and C-118s. I was radio/nav crewman on the last flight of an active duty squadron C-118. Later, on a C-130 flight, I was thrown from a forklift in Barcelona Spain In January of '71 while unloading a J79 engine with an undersized forklift. I was removed from flight status and volunteered for the F-14 program. I was sent to factory school in Bethpage Long Island and from there to VF-124, the Tomcat RAG squadron to train maintenance crews for squadrons receiving the Tomcat. We received the Meritorious Unit Citation after the successful introduction of the first two Tomcat Squadrons. Finished my Navy time in VF-143, the World Famous Puking Dogs. Made several great friendships on that cruise.
I may have bad mouthed the Navy just like everyone else, but I would join again in a heartbeat. I met great men and learned great lessons you can only learn by being there and doing the amazing things the military provides.