USS Independence CVA 62 (U.S. Navy Photo)

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve on 2 November 1960, during my senior year in High School. In fact, my enlistment date was only two weeks after my seventeenth birthday. I was attached to the Naval Reserve Electronics unit in Curwensville, Pa. We attended meetings one night each week, Wednesdays,
in this case. I graduated from
DuBois High School in May 1961. Three weeks later I shipped off to Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago for Basic Training (boot camp).

Immediately after boot camp, I went to Philadelphia and went aboard a Destroyer for a two week cruise up the east coast with a layover in Boston. It was not only my first trip aboard a ship, it was also the first time I had ever seen the ocean. The trip north from Philadelphia was filled with both hours of labor and hours of enjoyment. We spent the work hours painting the sleeping compartments on the ship and then the evening hours were spent enjoying the cruise and the camaraderie of new friends.

Additional Photos

USS Independence CVA62

 USS Independence CVA 62
(U.S. Navy Photo)

USS Independence at sea replenishment
USS Independence CVA 62
At sea replenishment with reefer and destroyer alongside

 We spent a few days tied up to a Destroyer Tender while in Boston and had an opportunity to enjoy some liberty in Massachusetts. The second week, we returned to the Philadelphia Naval Base. At the end of the two weeks I returned to DuBois and resumed my civilian life, until called up for active duty.

My active duty call-up was for 2 November 1961, one year from my enlistment date. I received orders shipping me to the Philadelphia Naval Base, Receiving Station. I was to travel by my own means to Altoona, Pa. where I was to board a train for the trip to Philly. I arrived in Philly some hours later, and reported to the Receiving Station late in the evening. There were no clerical personnel to process me in, so I was assigned a bunk, given linen, and ordered to report again at 0800 the next morning.

On reporting to the personnel office on the 3 November, I encountered what seemed to be great confusion as to my future in the Navy. It seemed my orders were incomplete and therefore, I was to be returned to my Naval Reserve Unit until the orders were straightened out. What? Some few hours later I was again on a train heading west towards Altoona, Pennsylvania.

The next day I went back to my former employer and tried to get my job back for the short future as I would need some means of income to see me through. I again received orders to return to Philly, this time my departure was for 7 December 1961. I traveled by train once again and arrived in Philly late Sunday evening. The next morning I began the processing needed to get me to my first duty station.

Part of the processing included a battery of tests to determine my skills and knowledge and fitness for various types of assignments. Also, there was opportunity for me to express my opinions and desires as to my duty stations and assignments. It was my desire to become a Photographers Mate. This presented somewhat of a problem as I was currently holding a Seaman’s Rating. Photographers were an Aviation Rating. I would have to get duty somewhere that would allow me to change to an Aviation or Airman’s Rate while still serving as a Seaman. It would be a great hassle for me and I would be the only one working for me. However I had known about all of this before reporting for active duty. When filling out my request for duty stations, I simply requested : Aircraft Carrier, East Coast; Aircraft Carrier, West Coast; and finally for my third choice, Aircraft Carrier, Anywhere. When the Personnel Officer interviewed me, he was quite taken by my choices. He realized that I knew where I would have my best chance to become a Photo Mate, and endorsed my first choice, Aircraft Carrier, East Coast.

I now began the wait for orders from Bupers (Bureau Of Naval Personnel). I would spend the rest of December playing cards and doing odd jobs around the Receiving Station. My orders finally arrived on the 30th, and I departed for Norfolk, Virginia the next morning.

My first duty station was aboard the USS Independence CVA 62. (an Aircraft Carrier based on the East Coast). After some haggling and bribery when I reported aboard, I was finally assigned to the Photo Lab. Some months later, after I had passed the test for Photographers Mate Third Class, I changed rank from Seaman to Airman, then was promoted to Third Class Photographers Mate.

During my tour on the Independence, I was able to make a Med Tour for six months and then shortly after return to CONUS, the ship and I were to take part in the Naval Blockade of Cuba. This occurred in October-December of 1962. I was aboardEd Waite Antarctic Continent January 1964 ship off the coast of Cuba when, on October 22, 1962 (my nineteenth birthday), President John F. Kennedy made his speech that all ships headed to Cuba would be stopped and searched. What a birthday present!

My next duty assignment was a volunteer group going to the Antarctic. This unit was called AirDevRon Six (VX-6) While with this unit I traveled to New Zealand and the Antarctic continent. It was with this unit and while stationed in New Zealand, that I met my lovely wife, Pam. Also while on duty in New Zealand/Antarctica, President Kennedy was assassinated. I attended a Memorial Service in Christ Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand.

My final Navy duty station was the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va. My duty there was as a PH2 (Photo Mate 2nd Class). I was discharged from the Navy on Dec 5, 1965.