I joined the US Navy, in 1968, just before flunking out of college. The logic in choosing the Navy went like this. The Marines were too gung ho and promised me nothing. The Army played in the dirt. I didn’t like the Air Force’s uniforms. The Navy recruiter promised me the avionics field (electrons needed air conditioning) and a bed with clean sheets and three hot meals daily! I was no dummy!
In 18 months, I made E5 as an ATN-2 and volunteered for flight status. I was trained as a Flight Tech on a strange looking aircraft called an E-2B. I was the only enlisted man on the plane and was the radar and electronics operator on board. I was sent to Norfolk, VA and assigned to airborne early warning squadron VAW-124. The squadron was assigned to CAG-8 on board CVA-66, the carrier USS America. That’s when the fun began. There is nothing more exciting than launching off the carrier and landing on a rolling, moving runway!
The USS America was sent to Vietnam in June of 1972. It took about a month to get to the other side of the World, which for us was Subic Bay and Olongapo, Philippines.
We would spend about three weeks on station off of Vietnam and one week on R&R. Along the way, we got to visit Singapore and Hong Kong. Also got a visit from Miss America and several of the other contestants. Even got a visit from the Navy CNO, Admiral Zumwalt, who pinned an Air Medal on me!
The mission of the E2-B was flight following of aircraft from the carrier to North Vietnam and early warning of aircraft and ships from North Vietnam to the carrier. During my Vietnam tour, 1972-1973, peace was declared and the POWs were to be freed! Not a bad day in the life of just one sailor!