Honor is doing the right thing when NOBODY is watching;
Courage is doing the right thing when EVERYBODY is watching;
And Commitment is living with Honor and Courage every day of your life.
Courage is doing the right thing when EVERYBODY is watching;
And Commitment is living with Honor and Courage every day of your life.
BOOTCAMP circa 1972 San Diego California
This was me in 1974 in the Philippines - My 1st Duty station
This was my Radio Gang on the USS Mobile LKA-115 circa 1975
This must've been when I first got onto the USS Mobile because I'm on the bottom bunk. Later on when I got some rank I moved into the middle bunk.
You can now see where we kept all our belongings - in about a 8 inch depth under where we slept. Every morning I had to 'trice up' the bed so that the people could sweep under the beds.
You needed this to get through the Chow Line (Radioman)
One of the MIKE Boats outfitted with a 50 CAL Gun
Days in Bootcamp
Prior to going off to Bootcamp we got a ride to the Oakland Airport. Once there we were given some money to buy Dinner - We all picked the same thing. French Onion Dip which was Roast Beef on a large bun which we dipped in some kind of Onion Soup. We then boarded the plane for the ride to San Diego California. We arrived in the afternoon and soon we were greeted by some Angry Drill Instructors. It was mass hysteria. I remember lining up for shots that day: A shot that was shot from a gun like thing. Then we got this huge shot of Penicillin. Our Company Commander was a short kind of guy. We got hair cuts then lined up for clothes and a Duffle Bag. We usually woke up around 5:30AM. Once outside we saw the Marines across the fence already running. We got dressed and lined up for breakfast. We lined up Tallest to shortest. I was short so when it came to getting time to eat we were at a sore disadvantage - The tall guys would have a lot of time and we had to leave when they said let’s go! They taught us how to fold our clothes and how to put them in the locker. My Company commander was so impressed with my locker and how I folded my clothes and how I stored them that he pulled me aside - pushing his fist into my chest and said “Diola I want you to fold everyones clothes (65 people) and store them". The next day he announced to the company that I was to fold everyones clothes and they were not to touch them at all. So when everyone was out marching you guessed it - I was stuck folding everyones clothes and putting them in their lockers. Many times some other company commanders would come in and hassle me, plant quarters in the lockers. Because we got dinged once I was sent at 10PM to a Marching Party - That is we showed up on the grinder and held out buckets of water, did endless pushups etc until midnight. That only happened one time because from then on I followed around the company commanders and watched what they were trying to sabotage.
During bootcamp we went to the Dentist. Well you can call it Dentistry but immediately they pulled out two of my molars which caused big holes in my jaw on both sides and I had a lot of trouble eating. The same thing happened before we went overseas - They pulled out all my wisdom teeth the old fashioned way - with little silver hammers that I could see through the white clothes that covered my eyes. All through west pack I had these shooting pains where the wisdom teeth were extracted.
I also three fourths of the way through got pneumonia and was stuck in an infirmary for 7 days and almost lost my company because of that.
Oh yea there were the fellows in my company. Because at the time we were in the draft system we had a lot of guys that were only in for 2 years. We had a guy that was getting his PhD, another Karate Expert, Our Leader who happened to be a big black guy, a native american guy. Since I was in charge of folding clothes I was often left behind to guard our living spaces. We all enlisted a couple weeks before Christmas so on Christmas Day we all lined up for phone calls to home. I swore I would not break into tears but when I got my turn and heard Mom’s voice the tears flowed out.
March to Georgia: One evening right at 10PM the Company Commander came in (most likely drunk) and said we're going to March to Georgia. He said Pick up one side of the bed and have a buddy pick up the other side. Next were marching to Georgia holding up the bed - this went on for about 30 minutes. Then down for dog tag pushups - that is go down until the chain on your dog tag was fully on the ground. Up for more running. Then he said we've arrived at Georgia.
Radioman A School
I elected to go to Radioman A school thinking that it was an Electronics school. Instead it was all about setting up Radio Communications. The 1st phase of the school was to learn the Radio Systems and be able to draft up documents relating to Radio Communications. I had one other student that I was neck in neck with for being the top student. If I did make the top student then I would get to choose my 1st Duty assignment. I finished at the top student and elected to go to the Philippines.
The next phase of school was teletype school. I knew how to type on a regular typewriter but this was different. First of all there were ALL CAPITAL LETTERS no lower case. So at the bottom row to get letters you would press the lower left key and to get numbers and symbols you would press the lower right key- it was totally new to us. The first two weeks everything was available to see- up at the top of the room were all the keys very visible. The next two weeks the keys were all visible with all the numbers and letters/symbols (but we were told try not to look at the keys). The next time we came in all the keys were BLANK!
The next and final class was Morse Code. We had to write out the more code over and over for homework e.g. dit dah dit dah dah dah etc. Then when we came in for class we would put on headsets and listen to the code and type what we heard and check our work. We did this for what seemed like 3 weeks. In one of the weeks some guys came in and sat on the floor with pencils and pads. They dawned on the headsets and had to write the code - I think it was about 10 words per minute. There was a guy in our class - Filipino Guy named Jaime Concepcion - that seemed to know morse code already. I sat next to him and on Fridays we came in to test at 8 AM and we both would ace the test so we got to go on liberty early. We jumped on a bus to Miramar and took a Military Hop to Alameda. The first flight we took was kind of scary because we thought we were headed east but one of the crew said Calm Down we’re going to Nevada and then on to Alameda. The flights were free so that was good.
The only time I actually used Morse Code was on the USS MOBILE. I was sleeping and someone woke me up at midnight. At first I shrugged him off and then looked up and it was the Executive Officer [XO]. I sat up and said what’s up? He said that they looked through my File and saw that I had an NEC of 2340 [Morse Code]. We were headed into Hong Kong and they won’t let us in until we authenticate. So I followed him up to the Radio Shack and they gave me some headphones and I started listening - it was pretty slow so I started typing out the letters. They verified the letters with a CODE BLOCK and then they pushed over the morse code transmitter and gave me a set of BLOCK LETTERS and said ’send these’ I proceeded to send the letter combinations and voila. All was good.
I was 20 years old the year I joined the Navy. I grew up in Alameda California where there was a Naval Air Station. My dad actually worked at the Naval Air Station for 27 years. I hadn't been anywhere of consequence so I decided to join up. My brothers were in the US Marines so they advised me to join the US Navy. They planned it all out for me - explained I'd go to San Diego to Boot Camp, Go to an A school (my choice was Radioman "A" School) and then if I graduated at the top of my school I could choose my 1st duty station. I did in fact graduate at the top of my class and chose the Philippines as my 1st duty station.
The trip down to Boot Camp was my 1st time on an airplane and the plane ride to the Philippines was the 1st time out the country.
I was in the US Navy for 7 years. After I found out the trick of how to get along in the US Navy. I loved being in the US Navy because there were many opportunities if only you worked hard and studied for the advancement tests. I accelerated at a breakneck speed and attained Radioman 1st Class in just 7 years. Unfortunately coming back to the San Francisco Bay area the US Navy pay was not enough to justify staying in the US Navy. I exited to join the human race.
The US Navy gave me the means to succeed in the real world.
We were in Okinawa at the time and we should have known something was up because we were loading equipment and US Marines for a couple days prior to leaving Okinawa. The night before all of us Radiomen went to the Officers Club and were totally drunk by the end of the night. The Ship sent a special Van to pick us up. I remember climbing up from the side of the road into the Van. The Driver said the Captain is looking for his Radiomen! When we got back I climbed into my bunk and had the mid watch that night. I went up to the RadioShack along with my buddy Napoleon Thomas. We were just hanging on because of the drinking. About 2 AM I looked over at the Broadcast Teletype and it had run out of paper! OH NO.
I woke up Napoleon and said HEY you fell asleep and there is no paper in the Broadcast machine. We loaded up some paper and then I hear the ding ding ding FLASH message bells and in came a FLASH message - for the Captains Eyes ONLY. I tore it off and raced up to the Bridge and the Captain was not on the Bridge. They said he's in his 'Sea Cabin'. I searched around and right behind the Bridge was a door with a sign that said, Captain. I knocked and heard someone say come in. I opened the door and inside was the Captain in this small cabin just big enough for a cot and small desk. I handed the clipboard to him and he said: "I've been expecting this". In 30 seconds we were on the Bridge and in another 10 seconds, we were at General Quarters. Off to Vietnam.
Being in the US Navy we did not have many instances during when I was in that I was put in real harm's way.
I'll start off with my least favorite- Being on the USS Mobile LKA-115. Being a Radioman onboard ship was very stressful. We had many duties to perform and there were only 6 of us to cover the 24 hour period. We covered day watch, evening watch, and mid watch. Additionally, we had to burn all the messages that piled up, maintain all the radio equipment. Clean our own spaces. Send out and receive all messages and sometimes deliver messages. To go to dinner for the evening meal we would have to wait in line for about 2 1/2 hours. So most times for dinner I would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and dry milk and get some rest instead. If we had the mid watch we would get leftover roast beef sandwiches in a box lunch about every 3 days. Most folks didn't like us cutting in front of the line when we flashed our RM badges to get dinner for the evening watches.
We did get to get off the ship when in port at which time we could get a good meal. I was down to about 108 pounds but could do 23 pull-ups and 50 marine pushups. I did have a confrontation with a shipmate (Gary Scaglione) that would not relieve me in time for breakfast. I went down to the berthing area and he was combing his hair. I called him out and we went outside. I opened the door and saw a fist coming at me - it grazed my eyebrow. I punched him in the solar plexus and he went down hard. He agreed to come up after that. We went to sickbay together and the corpsman asked we were fighting? We said no we just fell down the stairs carrying something together. He patched us up.
My Favorite Duty Station was COMSUBPAC Hawaii Pearl Harbor. I went there as a 2nd Class Radioman. I had been studying at an off-campus outlet for Chaminade University computer science. This would prove valuable because in the Radio room we were just getting into computers and I was the only one to know how to 'bootstrap' the computer. In the 3 years I was there I was elevated to Supervisor - unusual as I was only a 2nd Class and all the other Supervisors were 1st Class Radiomen. Our team was #1 for 6 straight months. When I left the Admiral came down to try to convince me to stay in to become an Officer (probably a Warrant Officer) but going out to sea was not my cup of tea.
My most memorable moment that impacted me the most was meeting up with a 2nd Class Radioman named Cesar Pugeda - I had just gotten to the Philippines and as 21 years old (much older than my shipmates) I got into some trouble one time and got restriction for 7 days on base. Cesar took me aside and explained that to get ahead I had to learn to control my temper.
After being around him my US Navy life changed for the better.
I achieved Radioman 1st Class in 7 years. I also got medals for Frequent Wind. I also was the Only supervisor as a 2nd Class at COMSUBPAC.