I'm a Navy brat; my birth certificate is from the
Near the end of the Vietnam War my parents separated and my dad retired from the Navy. He later remarried a beautiful lady from the
My childhood memory of my dad is of a man who was tough as nails, a John Wayne in The Fighting Seabees kind of character, as corny as that sounds. In those days dad didn't like to repeat himself, he told you to do something once and expected it to be done. If you asked him a question and his answer was no, it had a distinctly military even Marine drill instructor sound to it. "Negative son the geedunk is off limits till after dinner."
Dad rarely talks about his Navy career and the two wars he served during even though he had a chest full of ribbons, and a sleeve length of gold four year service strips. But while I was in the Navy I did get him to tell me a couple of Seabee sea stories, probably during a one of my visits between duty stations.
Two stories my dad told me was how he was slightly wounded twice in
The other time he was injured was during a mortar attack. He was working on a generator barge when the attack started. He fell to the deck with his hand between the barge and dock. The concussion of one of the mortar rounds pushed the dock and barge together crushing my dad's thumb in the process. That injury is also still visible today.
Writing this it's hard to believe my dad did these things; he has mellowed considerably over the years. It's been a while, but I seem to recall at least one Presidential Unit Citation in his ribbons but have never got any stories relating to his awards. No Purple Heart though, he talked his CO out of putting him up for the hand injury because he felt it was his own stupidity that caused it.
My service was not as gritty as my dad's, it was technical and tedious. The dangers I faced in the 1980s on SSBNs were less individual and more operational. We were chased by the Soviets a few times but knew that by then it was a game of information gathering and tracking. To go hostile on an operation SSBN meant the unthinkable was happening.
Stealth, being on station and operational readiness was the name of our game and we did it well. The stories I have to tell my son are ones computational calculations of Lat and Long, of pounds per square inch of sea pressure and weapons readiness drills.
You didn't make rate in the Seabees as fast as the technical rates did a decade later, both my father and I ended our Navy service as E6s. But in my eyes Dad will always get my respect for his service and his commitment as a Navy man.
Happy Fathers Day.