I joined the Navy with the idea of becoming an electrician. But, after basic training, I was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea, where I worked on the flight deck with a catapult crew. I enjoyed repairing and maintaining the mechanical equipment so much that I asked for formal training in this field. I went to Philadelphia for classes in becoming a catapult operator.
Although I liked my job, I left the Navy after my four-year enlistment to go home and get married. Within three months, I reenlisted because there were few civilian jobs that I felt offered me the same chance to make something of myself. I then spent nearly two years as catapult crew leader on the USS Wasp, where one of my older brothers was also assigned. I then spent a year in Lakehurst, NJ, as a crew leader testing new parts and newly designed catapult systems, and later was responsible for a crew of 40 men who maintained and operated two catapults. One big job involved supervising work on the catapult system for a major ship overhaul. I also served aboard the USS Ranger on several cruises to Vietnam as supervisor of a catapult operation.
I was then selected to become an instructor at the Navy’s school at Lakehurst. For four years, I taught the basics of operating and maintaining catapult systems to 250 students a year. I enjoy teaching and working with younger people to help them establish themselves in their careers. I was also promoted to Chief Petty Officer—the goal I had set for myself when I joined the Navy. Following an assignment on the USS Roosevelt,I was promoted to flight deck supervisor and served on the USS Independence and then the USS Forrestal,where I managed a flight deck crew of up to 550 sailors.
For the past several years, I have been back at Lakehurst managing the launch and recovery school. I enjoy teaching and working with younger people to help them establish themselves in their careers. I believe that I have made a significant contribution to the Navy. But then, the Navy has also rewarded me in turn.