Reveille was sounded by a bugle over the loudspeakers and backed up by our Company Commander shouting and running a night stick around the large metal trash can in the center of our barracks room... there was no sleeping through that.
In 1954 the country was still involved in Korea and we were anxious to get through Boot Camp and into the fray. However, before the 13 weeks of Boot Camp were over the Korean Conflict came to a close. We earned the National Defense ribbon because we were on active duty during the conflict but played no part in it. My war was Vietnam. I enlisted right at the end of the Korean conflict and retired right after the end of Vietnam.
Later we boarded a train for San Diego. I was a year older than the rest as I was set back in the second grade due to a bout with Scarlet Fever and also had the highest scores on the tests we had taken during the induction process. Because of this I was placed in charge of the group. I don't remember how large our group was but we had either one or two cars on the train at the very end near the caboose. My job was to work with the conductor in controlling the group. We were to make no disturbances, especially as we went to and from the dining car. The trip to San Diego was made with no problems from our group. The others made my job easy.
Eventually, of course, the train trip was over and we were at the Navy Training Center (Boot Camp) and were introduced to our Company Commander MM1 M. E. Rogee. All the yelling and unpleasant things about basic training were happening almost literally on a 24/7 basis. It was not unusual to be rousted out of bed in the wee hours of the morning for some close order drill on the grinder... in our skivvies... in the cold... maybe even in the rain.
Leave following Boot Camp was sweet indeed! Home, family, girl friend... not necessarily in that order.
My younger brother, Barry, and I joined the Navy right out of High School. The Korean war was still going on and we elected to enlist in the Navy rather than be drafted into the Army. Both of us were products of growing up during WWII and felt a strong obligation and desire to do our part when our time came to serve our country.
Our physicals went well and we took the battery of tests which would decide the schools we would be eligible for and therefore, what our opportunities in the Navy would be. We were put up in a hotel along with all the other inductees from all around the area until we were shipped out by train for San Diego, CA for Boot Camp. The next morning we reported to the office where we were to be sworn in but it was not until later in the morning that the swearing in would take place. In the mean time, we sat around under foot of all the Navy personnel hard at work around us
Some were playing cards and we were no doubt a little noisy as well. None of the staff commented as they stepped over or around us wearing pleasant smiles. At last the swearing in ceremony was held and we were officially in the Navy. Now, that fact changed everything! No one stepped over us or around us and took our noisy behavior in stride and with a smile anymore! We found ourselves on cleaning details and were made to tow the mark in a most military way. We were in the Navy now for sure!
As with most recruits, Boot Camp was our first real venture away from home and with girl friends and family left behind one of the most important events was MAIL CALL! All through my Navy career mail call was very important, especially on deployment but nothing like during Boot Camp! It was almost more important than life itself!
Our Company was good but not the best in competitions. The Company above us in the barracks was in the running for top honors so for the final inspection to decide which was the top Company we let them use our head (bathroom) for cleanup the morning of the big inspection. That way, they could clean theirs the night before and concentrate on the rest of their barracks in the morning... we just had to clean up after double the traffic in ours the next morning. They won top honors.
One of the members of that Company, Fred Doty, would go to Basic Electronics School and then to Harbor Defense Unit, Port Townsend with me and serve as Best Man at my wedding to Carolyn, my High School girl friend, who came out for us to marry before I left for Guam. Small world.
Classes included firefighting and rifle range. The Navy requires that ALL sailors be firefighters since a fire at sea is one of the worst threats to a ship.
Once while re-qualifying with the 45 I was shooting away at my target thinking I was not doing very well when the range master passed behind me and looked at my target. He commented "I sure wouldn't want you shooting at me." I must not have been doing as bad as I thought. I had been on the rifle team in High School and my view of what my target should look like was different from the real world'.
I enjoyed Boot Camp except for missing Carolyn. I was in great shape and there was nothing they could throw at me that I was not up to. Classes were not that difficult... that would come later in Basic Electronics and especially in Advanced Electronics Schools.
Through whatever the selection process was, I was selected Honorman for our Company. The main benefit of that seemed to be receiving a certificate at the graduating ceremony. The graduation ceremony was impressive. I can never hear "Anchors Aweigh" without reliving the feelings of marching in review at Boot Camp graduation. It always brings up a very emotional feeling of pride.