I was raised be righteous parents with six siblings in a small town in the mid-west. I was active in scouting and always had nothing but respect for Veterans and the Military. My father Jerome was a WWII veteran, and my grandfather Henry a WWI veteran. I wanted to serve my country as they did.
I was due to graduate from high school in June of 67. There was a draft at this time which required males to register at age 18. I wanted to go into the Military and wanted to go to Vietnam. I was 17 at this time and my parents wouldn’t sign for me to go into the Army or Marines. They didn’t want me in combat. I found out about the US Navy Seabees which comes from the term Construction Battalion’s. The Navy had an early entry program, where my parents could allow me to sign up before turning 18.
I enlisted in the Navy as a Construction recruit instead of a Seaman recruit. This would train me in a construction trade, and would also give me a high chance of ending up in a combat.
I went thru Navy boot camp at Great Lakes Illinois, then 18 weeks training at Port Hueneme California as a Construction Electrician. Half of our time was class room, learning planning and estimating, and theory. Outside work we we’re trained as lineman. Climbing pole was scary as hell at first but I got used to it. I liked the challenges being trained as an electrician.
Following school I went to Camp Pendleton for weapons training. SERE training (survival, evasion, resistance, escape) followed. Against my parent’s wishes I got orders to Vietnam in March of 1968. My tour in Vietnam changed my life forever. I’ve been dealing with the VA as a patient, employee and volunteer since I was discharged in 1970. As a combat veteran I’ve dedicated my life helping veterans and preserving military history.