Like others, my US service was not very exciting. I was in my freshman year of college when I got a letter from a friend who was on the draft board in DC and was told my name was on the list to be drafted. I was not ROTC, so I knew which branch of the service I would be selected for, so I signed up for the Navy.
When I got to the recruitment center I was told that I was scheduled to be in the submarine service of the Navy. I was given a physical and when I went for the eye test (take off your glasses and cover your left eye and read the first line you can see), I told the corpsman the I knew the first line was an E. He did not appreciate the humor and told me that I had failed the eye test and would not be allowed to work on submarines (darn the luck, I was not going to be in a sardine can under water).
I asked for a billet (job title) as a Photographer‘s Mate but was instead offered a billet as an ET (Electronics Technician). The catch was that I would have 1-1/2 years of training and would have to sign up for an extra two years. The benefit was that I would have training that I could use in the civilian workplace, be eligible for extra GI Bill benefits and would to advance to E3 and receive a $2500 bonus once I passed the schooling. The money was a lot back then, I put it in a fund and had enough to purchase a new car when I got out of the service.
Apparently the Navy had open ET billets to fill and part of the requirements was a high score on the IQ test, and of course there were a lot of guys that turned down the offer because of the extra two years. The course of study was tough, but I made it through. I did not find out that the reason that schooling was so tough for me is that I am dyslexic until I was almost 50.
I got married to Patricia after boot camp and she was with me during my training, in my first assignment on a Guided Missile Destroyer that was in dry dock after being commissioned. We did a shakedown cruise to Cuba to make sure the ship was ready to go to Vietnam. When we got back I was transferred to a WWII ship that was recommissioned for service and was getting ready for its first cruise. We did a 6 month cruise to the Mediterranean, after which my wife joined me in New Port RI. My first son was born while I was away, which is when I decided that I was not going to do my time and get out. By this time I was an E5.
After a few months the ship got orders to head to Vietnam. I called my friend in Washington and he said that the Navy was not spending money to move people unless they had to but he would see what he could do. The day before the ship was to leave I got a call and was told that a Destroyer Tender at the same pier was looking for an ET and he would do the paperwork, but it was up the my Captain. I went into the base and on the ship and was summand to the Captains office. He said he had signed my release and if I was able to get off the ship before it set sail in ½ hour I was free to go to the new ship. IO had to rush through and gather all my things and get checked out by several different officers. By the time I made it to the gang plank to get off it was already pulled in and they were ready to cast off. I tossed my sea bag on the pier and jumped, almost falling in the water and spraining my ankle.
When I go to my new ship, I was told that they would be leaving in a week to go to the Mediterranean, and it would be home ported in Naples Italy for two years. There was not time to get all the paperwork to get my wife and son over to Naples and she would have to come over a month later. So I spent the remainder of my Navy time in Naples Italy, missing a trip to Vietnam twice.
Wife and I did take a trip (taking our youngest son and his wife) to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos earlier this year.
I did have some adventures, such as meeting Carlos Santana in Palma-de-Mallorca and learning to drive a standard transmission in the heart of Rome, Italy, if interested I will detail some of them.