Tag Archives: Navy life

How I Met the Love of My Life Part 3

9 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

My friend, Bud, and I had joined the U.S. Navy Reserves in the middle of our senior year (big mistake).  We did this to impress the girls (before I met DiVoran) when we wore our uniforms around town, on Friday nights, after our reserve meetings.  But after graduation, I realized what a foolish thing I had done, and I wanted to get my “active duty” over with so I could go to college.  Some of you may remember that back in those days, when you signed on the dotted line to serve in the military, there was no getting out of your commitment.  You were in for the length of your service time, and that was all there was to it.  I had asked DiVoran to marry me, gave her a diamond engagement ring, and asked her to wait for me until I got back from my active duty.  She wanted to get married right then.  After talking it over, I finally agreed to us getting married as soon as we could, and she agreed to wait for a while.  We also promised to write each other every day I was away, and we did.  

After boot camp I shipped out on the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) for a Med Cruise.  That was a wonderful experience for this 18-year old swabby.  I got to visit most of the countries that ring the Mediterranean.  When the ship’s tour of duty was over, we were relieved, on station, by our sister carrier the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42).   The voyage our ship made across the north Atlantic, returning to the United States, was one of the roughest I was ever on during my time in the Navy.  We ran into one of those historical nor’easter storms, that sailors have talked about for centuries, and believe me it was brutal.  We docked at Norfolk, VA to off-load the air group, non-essential personnel and equipment.  

The ship was scheduled for a major two-year overhaul which would include the addition of a canted flight deck.  There were no dry-docks available on the east coast, so the ship made the trip around South America (the ship was too wide to go thru the Panama Canal).  We visited cities on the east coast of Brazil, made our way round Cape Horn and stopped at Valparaiso on the west coast of Chili. We also stopped at Panama City, on the west coast of Panama, and finally at San Francisco, CA as we made our way north to Bremerton, WA.

I was able to watch the “Yard Birds” work on the ship for a month while I waited for my transfer orders.  That was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about the ship I had never knewn.  I finally received my orders transferring me to the USS Hector (AR-7) in San Diego, CA.  The Hector was going to be tied up to Pier 1, at the San Diego Naval Base for about six months.  It was during this time that I was able to attend a Diesel Engine Mechanic School and obtain my rating as an Engineman.  My mother had good friends living in La Mesa (not far from the Naval Base), and they invited me to their home for dinner several times.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Why I Joined the Navy

28 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

It all started one day when my friend, Bud, and I were complaining, to each other, about how hard it was to get the attention of the girls in town. The problem, as we saw it, was that we had too much competition. You see, we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in the mid-50s, there were two military bases located there. Sandia Base (AFSWP) was situated on the southeast edge of town, and Kirkland Air Force Base was located on the southwest part of town. Between the two bases, the number of guys seen in U.S. Air Force uniforms, on any given day, on the streets of Albuquerque was overwhelming.

 

1

 

We were both approaching draft age, and were worried our number would come up soon. Bud’s idea was to kill two birds with one stone; 1, we would join the branch of service of our choice (and avoid the Army draft). This would allow us to legally wear a military uniform on the streets of Albuquerque, and greatly increase our chances of attracting the girls. And 2, as it turned out, since the Navy was our choice, they had a reserve unit right there in town (much different uniform). As we saw it, we would only have to go to reserve meetings once a month (how bad could that be?). Then after the meetings, and still in our uniforms, we could hit the streets on the prowl. Great idea, right? Well, as you might have guessed, the Navy welcomed us with open arms. Just sign on the dotted line “Dummy.” Right away they issued us these swell looking uniforms. Sexy, looking aren’t they!

 

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OK, so white uniforms looked a little sloppy. It’s hard to make a skinny kid look smart in a loose fitting uniform, without the leggings, belt, white gloves, and the pretty orange scarf. Now you do have to admit, the dress blue uniform looks a lot smarter, with all that extra gear. But hey, we were just kids playing around! What did we know?

 

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The things the Navy didn’t tell us, when we signed up, was what we would have to do at those monthly meetings; like all the marching we would have to do out on the “Grinder” in all kinds of weather; the many shots they gave us, for every kind of disease known to man (some made my arm sore for a week); having to learn how to tie all those crazy looking knots, and each one of those knots had a name we had to learn; then there was the Morse Code system we had to learn, and that crazy Signal Flag Semaphore system. It was worse than high school, with even more homework! And what was worse, when we stopped at the A&W Root Beer drive-in to check out the girls, many of our friends laughed their heads off. They couldn’t believe we thought we were going to impress the girls in those silly looking uniforms.

 

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It wasn’t long after I joined the Reserves, that I met DiVoran. And what do you know? She really liked my uniforms, and thought I looked great in them. That made the whole adventure worth it. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this Reserve thing was not just a game that I could quit any time I wanted to. I was stuck with what I had signed up for and was going to have to see it through.

 

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Of course, I don’t think my friend, Bud, had ever intended to see it through. When he found out that the Navy uniforms didn’t get the kind of reaction from the girls he had expected, he stopped going to meetings. The next thing I knew, the Navy was looking for him. He disappeared from the area, and later I heard the FBI was looking for him. Some friend, huh? I eventually got tired of all those Reserve meetings, and went into the regular Navy, to fulfil my required active service and get it over with. And that is about the gist of this story. You’ll have to read the blog series, “You’re In The Navy Now”  for the rest of the story of where this foolish idea led me.

 

—–The End—–

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