RADAR Electronics Technician Second Class, 1964 to 1970
Served as RADAR and Communications Electronics Technician on three Destroyers U.S.S. Sproston , U.S.S. Taylor, U.S.S. Renshaw) homeported in Pearl Harbor during the Vietnam War (1967-1968). Installed, maintained and repaired RADAR systems, radio transmitters, receivers, IFF, ECM & cryptographic machines.
I joined the Naval Reserve in 1964, while still in High School, and went to Corpus Christi for Boot Camp. After running out of money at the University of Arkansas in 1965, I attended Treasure Island for Electronics and RADAR School. From there I went to Pearl Harbor and joined the crew aboard U.S.S. Sproston (DD577). After a few months in Pearl Harbor I was granted a Secret Clearance with Crypto endorsement, and I went to crypto school on Mare Island.
I was trained by SEALs at the Submarine Base in Pearl Harbor as a Space Capsule Recovery Diver for the Apollo II mission. Took two battle cruises to the Viet-Nam "gun line" on Sproston and Renshaw.
This is not in the history books, because at the time it was secret. We were cruising near Hainan Island when a large shore gun fired a salvo. Their exploding shells missed a direct hit, but shrapnel hit our bulkheads and decks. We and our sister ship U.S.S. Carpenter were tied together exchanging mail and supplies, and all hell broke loose. The axes fell on rope and the ships riggings ripped apart as we returned fire, but our guns were out of range. We radioed the Air boys and they bombed the emplacement to silence.
We cruised from Hawaii to Japan, Philipines, Viet-Nam, Manus Island, Australia, New Zealand, Kwajalin, Midway, and Pago Pago. I was initiated as a Golden Dragon Shellback as we passed over the equator at the International Date Line.
After active duty I trained and cruised aboard Reserve Training Ship U.S.S Haynesworth to the Virgin Islands, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Puerto Rico and New Orleans. That's right! We sailed up the Mississippi River on a Destroyer, and had liberty in New Orleans. It was a lot better than liberty at Guantanamo Bay!