Thursday, November 11, 2010

Flashback Friday: Veterans

From Mocha with Linda:

Were/Are either of your parents or other family members active military personnel or veterans? What branch? When did they serve; was it during wartime or peacetime? Did they share much about their experiences with you or others? When you were growing up, was the USA (or your country, for those outside the US) involved in a war? What do you remember about it and how did it impact you? Are you, your spouse, or any of your children veterans?

Neither my husband nor I have served in the military, but both our fathers did, many of our uncles did, and we have many friends who have served or are serving now.

My dad served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. On July 7, 1967 - less than two months after he and Mama were married - he received orders to report for an "Armed Forces Physical Examination" to determine if he was qualified to serve in the military. On August 28, 1967, he received orders to report for induction into the US Army on September 7. Because he wasn't keen on the idea of ground fighting in Vietnam, he tried to join the US Air Force, following his father's footsteps. They had reached their current limit of inductees. They could've taken him later, but that would've been after the September 7 deadline. The Navy recruiter's office was just down the hall, so he went there instead.

Daddy started boot camp on September 5, 1967 - just two days before he would've been required to report for induction into the Army. After several months of boot camp and radio school, he was assigned to the USS Noxubee, which shuttled fuel from large oil tankers to fuel bunkers onshore. Since the ship's home port was Pearl Harbor, it was a shock to find out he was being sent directly to Vietnam. The USS Noxubee had been deployed. He reported to the ship on the evening of June 27, 1968, and was released from shipboard duty three years and one day later - June 28, 1971.

He was a radioman, sending and receiving messages in Morse code, audio, and teletype. His unit was also responsible for patching communications networks, if needed. It reminded me of that scene in Down Periscope where the guy patches two networks together and gets shocked because he licks his bare fingers before holding the ends of the wires together with them. :o)

During his time on the USS Noxubee, Daddy was stationed both stateside (Pearl Harbor, HI, twice; and Little Creek, VA) and internationally (Da Nang Harbor/Cua Viet, Vietnam), and he had the chance to visit many different cultures (Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, and Guam, as well as France, Spain, Italy, and Greece while his ship cruised in the Mediterranean).

Probably the most harrowing experience on board the USS Noxubee was when a couple of Viet Cong swimmers managed to plant a magnetic mine on the hull of the ship. Since it was night and the water was murky, a team of underwater demolition divers wasn't able to tell anything from their inspection. The ship was taken five miles from the base until morning, when the team would inspect everything again. Around 2:00 a.m., there was an explosion on the ship. Thankfully only one mine was planted - and it was attached a little forward of the cargo hold. The ship's damage control team went to work and was able to contain things until an auxiliary repair ship could make temporary repairs. Then they headed to Manilla, Philippines and went into dry dock for repairs.

Daddy received his Honorable Discharge from the US Navy on September 4, 1973.

Incidentally, I was born while he was on one of his tours in Vietnam. He was on duty and received the Red Cross message regarding my birth as it came through.

I am immensely proud of my daddy and how he served his country when called upon. He is my hero.


sue said...

Great post...and LOVE those pictures!!!

Love you,
Aunt Sue

Mocha with Linda said...

I loved reading this. Wonderful pics (you were adorable!) and memories.

Mary Platt said...

I already have a great respect for Bo, but this just makes it greater. Thank you Ashley and I love the pic of you!!!