My Fading Navy Memories


I entered the Navy 22 August 1963 and headed straight to San Diego Recruit Training Center. Some how, I ended up as RCPO (Recruit Chief Petty Officer), which made life a little more pleasant for me than some of the others in the company. From Boot I went to Treasure Island, San Francesco for 'ETA' School.


I left 'ETA' School October 20, 1964 and went right to the Bennington, OE Division, Radar Group. Time wise, I was first eligible to take the test for third class while I was in 'A' school. At that time, they wouldn't let anyone in an 'A' school take the third class test for that rate, so I was passed over. When I left 'A' school, it was time again for the test for third class to be ordered. Because of the timing, though I had the recommendations from the school, the test had to be ordered by the ship. Since there were too many petty officers in the ET gang already, They wouldn't let me take the test for third class, so again I was passed over and they sent me right to the mess decks for duty when I got on board. I was assigned to the CPO mess, and did my mess duty there. For mess duty, it wasn't bad at all.

It would have had to be in December of 1964 that the Admiral decided that we should do a good will trip to Eureka, California, which was having flooding troubles at the time. We were to use our helicopters to fly supplies in and rescue trapped people. While making preparations for getting underway, the electricians dropped the string of lights that went from the bow to the top of the mast right in to the SPS-10c surface search radar antenna. The cord stopped the antenna from rotating and burned up the motor. I was ASK to assist the division chief in securing a replacement motor from the navy yard, BEFORE we got underway. We got the motor onto the ship just before pulling out. The chief and I then began the task of changing the motor WHILE WE WERE GETTING UNDERWAY. Rough seas and bad weather made that no easy task. And that was my first experience of climbing the mast (at sea, bad weather, heavy radar antenna motor, AT NIGHT). [Now I have trouble repairing a one story roof.] We repaired the antenna and life has wonderful.

The story of the three foot egg.

I was still assigned to the CPO mess during the Eureka jaunt, and was cooking breakfast to order one morning (every morning breakfast was to order). We were anchored off the coast and the weather was still bad with rough seas and the ship took some very big rolls (not cinnamon). One of the chiefs ordered one egg sunny side up. Just as I cracked the egg on the grill, the ship took a roll. The egg hit the grill and the white went first about a foot and a half to the left and then about a foot and a half to the right of the yoke. That egg was about three feet long (at least two and a half foot). I placed the egg on the plate, wrapped around the edge, and put the other stuff in the center of the plate. Another chief ordered ham and scrambled egg. When I poured the egg on the grill, the ship rolled and engulfed the ham. His ham and egg just became an omelet.

From the CPO mess I went to a 5 week school for SPA-34 and SPA-50. That was from the first of January 1965 till February 5, 1965 (got the finish dates from the certificate). We had a SPA-50 installed in CIC. It was the latest in solid state (transistor) radar displays. It was flat like a table and about three foot across the display face.

See Ya

Lonnie Whittaker
OE Div
1964 Oct - 1966 Dec


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