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Posts Tagged ‘Navy’

March 7th. It always rings a bell and reminds me of the day in 1951 that I entered the U.S. Navy. My service number assigned me that day rolls off my tongue far quicker than my social security number. Pat and I had married two months earlier and I had expected to be leaving shortly after our wedding day. Then because enlistments were coming in faster than the Navy could keep up, there was a delay until March. I suspect there were many like me who preferred the prospects of Navy life compared to the dire news reports of what might be expected if one was sent to Korea as a soldier or marine. In my own defense, I had always wanted to be in the Navy, as a child wants to be a fireman or whatever. Indeed, I had already joined and served in the Navy Reserve for four years, long before the Korean War, enlisting when I was 17 and still in high school with parents approval. From our home town of Mount Ayr, IA. I was sent to Des Moines for induction. There, I joined a group of about 35 other Iowans taking their physicals and oaths and receiving their orders. As it turned out there were several from Ottumwa, which I didn’t know but became close friends and served with the next four years. Our friendship was renewed many years later when Pat, Tim, Julie and I moved to Ottumwa and our children would meet their future spouses. Funny how things all work out sometimes.

That day in Des Moines resulted in the determination that out of the 35 men, only two of us were married. I was 21, barely, and the other married man was 18. So, I was assigned the task of carrying all the orders for the entire group and was designated as being in charge during the two day train trip to San Diego, CA. That included arranging for meals and payment to the Railroad, etc. Also, keep the under-aged (all of them) out of the club car. I was not thrilled with the responsibility.

There was time available before train departure and another memory of that day included a visit to the State Capitol to see my father, who was serving in the Iowa Senate. The Legislature was in session and I was allowed on the floor of the Senate to see Dad. I was embarrassed (and honored) when he halted proceedings to introduce me to the Senate and announced that I was leaving in a few minutes for San Diego and the Navy. A quick father and son hug, and I was out the door to a big ovation.

The trip was relatively uneventful, with no particular problems. All good boys in those days. One other memory of that first day was of a song that I heard for the first time. “Unforgettable” reminded me of the love I had just left behind and had no idea when I would see again. And of course, the day in general that would be – unforgettable.

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