I’m posting four short and very true stories from today through Sunday about my life-changing years in the US Navy. I was the only Nuclear-Grade Machinist Mate woman that made it through boot camp in Orlando, MM A School in Waukegan, Nuke Power school part one back in Orlando and part two in Ballston Spa New York, then onto a ship – namely the USS Dixon AS-37.
You see, I could not be assigned to a war ship or boat as a female, however I got to see lots of submarine interiors as I worked with the guys on nuke system repairs! That was in Ballast Point, near San Diego. I left upstate New York to meet the Dixon in Pearl Harbor as it had already broken away from the dock after ten years simply floating there in Ballast Point to go on WestPac! So, I didn’t actually see the big Navy bases, ships and subs, until five months later.
The crew had been kept onboard for a day and a half, then as an angel bringing deliverance they got to go ashore just as I reported in for my HP duty, sort of like a quality assurance cake with radiation-laced icing on top. Some of the guys in the Heath Physics department invited me to go along with them to see what Pearl Harbor looked and sounded like that evening. I eagerly went! At Trader Vic’s I got my first ever alcoholic beverage, a Tiki Liki, and I still have that neato clay cup.
The next day we all set out early and they rented a car. It had rained but the sunlight that morning shined brilliantly. We crossed Oahu between volcanos and I saw the only triple rainbow I’ve ever witnessed. The brightest on top, the other two in parallel arcs below it. We pulled aside just to admire it. I took a picture but crapola, I can’t find it. We ended up on Waimea Bay and they went skinny dipping. No, I elected not to join them with that! I did move all their clothes way up the shoreline and then went exploring. They did find their clothes and me before leaving!
We drove all the way back around and opted for a supper club. Lucky us, we got a side front table by the stage where the band had already started talking to the crowd. We got the beers we ordered and sat back to listen to the Three Dog Night-ish band singing away. About halfway through my brew I needed to sneak off to the head…I mean ladies’ room.
I got partly there when the band stopped and stared at me. I hurried on and back, embarrassed by the folks all looking at me intently. I sat. The lead singer said, All right, then!” They resumed and for the rest of the time there I held it in! We had a few more beers, a great dinner that I do not remember (only that it was good) and then caught the last boat back to the ship. This is what life should be like?
Tomorrow: The Stormy Pacific!