Friday, April 18, 2014

NORVA aka Norfolk, VA


The most Powerful Navy in the World several of the ships you see carry enough fire power to destroy nations.

(Ship in the foreground is USS Eisenhower #69) Behind her is the Eisenhower #77)

I have always liked to be close to my work. In my life I have known folk who commuted 90 miles one way every day. That is at least 4 hours of commuter driving time.  So we located a trailer park a mile from Gate 2 (famous Gate 2 of my first USN experience). It was on Hampton Blvd, and called ‘Hampton Blvd Trailer Park’. The lot rent was $20 a month plus utilities. Our 42x8 home was a life saver because we could not have afforded to rent and live there.


(The Aubery-fitch)

While I was playing Sailor, besides enrolling Jackie in school, two important things happened for my Sherry. She took a job within walking distance of the trailer park, it was a production job, with which she was familiar, only this time instead of a Hosiery Mill, it was a cork gasket  manufacturer.  She did not plan on doing that forever so she got to thinking of Data Processing (in which I was involved). She quit the job after awhile and took a course in Clerical and Keypunch operations.


The famous Bay-Bridge Tunnel connecting Virginia and Maryland $15 one way covers 23 miles. You always love this site when returning.

Toward the end of my tour in Norfolk, with her ability to type at least 80wpm, and take shorthand along with the new education boost, gave here the confidence to take the Civil Service Exam and passed with flying colors.  She would be qualified to apply for Government jobs.

(Below, that is called manning the rail, a tradition of 100’s of years. Sailors in dress uniforms surround the ship as it comes in to port!)


During that time I reported aboard the USS Independence and learned I was assigned to the IOIC (integrated Operational Intelligence Center). My job was working in OZ Division (called the land of OZ) and responsible for repairing all IBM gear aboard the ship. Ship’s Supply and the Spooks in the never never land had IBM gear also.  I got to meet a lot of interesting folk.

I am a person who likes his job, this was no difference, I enjoyed my job, except the family separations caused by cruises. I had a great Division Officer Mr. Mackie, he was a Mustang (That is Navy talk for an officer who spent most of his life as enlisted then became an officer). Most of us enlisted guys respected ‘MOST’ Mustangers above the Academy officers, mainly because we knew they had taken orders just as we were doing.


Mr. Mackie called me in to inform me to report to the ships skipper, Capt. Hill. I had only been aboard a few weeks, but I had heard stories about Capt. Hill. He was short of stature, but refused to look up to anyone he had to discipline. So his Marine  Guard carried a little stool. If he needed to get in anyone’s face the marine would place the stool in front of the man and then Capt Hill would be looking down on the guy. I never saw that but I did see the stool.


(We can only imagine the fire power of this sub, It’s piers were less than a mile from our trailer)

Mr. Mackie pointed out that personally speaking to a Skipper is very unusual for a Seaman, but this is due to your SI clearance, he said, ‘I don’t even have an SI.’.

My mind went crazy, is the ‘Old Man’  personally pulling my clearance?

I was escorted into his office and he stood and shook my hand. He took time to explain he must follow orders also. The President and Congress says a Skipper alone cannot hold the combination to the SI safe. At least Two people must share it. The Indy had at least 4, I would not know the others. I would hold the safe and part of the combination. He informed me, ‘we will hold drills called “SILENT SAFE”, but only in an extreme national emergency would I ever be called on to open the safe.  YOUR safe contains information that that I must follow if Washington DC is ever destroyed and all communications is lost. My orders will tell me where I am to take the Independence, if we are to attack, then WHO,  and to which targets I am supposed to launch the planes.’  Then and only then did it hit me what SI meant.


(A carrier leaving Norfolk)

Wow, how could this be? You talk about surprised, that safe sat no more than 5 feet from my desk, behind a simple panel and I did not know it.  I had never thought what a ship or submarine would do while they were deployed and if somehow All of DC was destroyed and there was no RADIO communications.

My new life at sea as a Sailor was beginning.(sorry for the length of the entry)

Nite Shipslog


A good time to keep your mouth shut is ...

when you're in deep water. (I believe that was Will Rogers)

This information is so old it is no longer classified, when I was in intelligence the term: ‘Broken Arrow’ was Top secret, since then even a movie has been named that, time changes Intelligence or it would not be illusive.


james-bond-cars-007-s-legendary-spy-automobiles-medium_8Aston Martin DB5bondYeah, we liked to think we were like 007, but really we were just doing a job and filling a billet.  someone before us had done it and someone would do it after we left..


betty said...

Had to laugh about the short man with the stool, but he knew what worked for what he had to do! Very interesting about the safes too, Jack; these have been fascinating to read about your and Sherry's adventures. Neat too that Sherry found her own niche and career.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

There were certainly lots of new experiences there at that time in your life for both of you. To me its amazing how easily you adapted. That was some cheap rent there for the lot for your trailer. I can only imagine what a blessing that would have been. I don't think anyone actually knows just how much the Navy does. I have to thank you for your service and all those that do so .

Paula said...

Sounds like some serious business to me. When I worked I liked to work near where I lived too. You and Sherry have lived an interesting life and seemed to adjust to most anything.


Interesting about the safes. I'm glad that Sherry found a career she liked.

Lucy said...

You have had quite a life moving around and doing so many things. You and Sherry should be proud of all the accomplishments.

shirl72 said...

I will say you and Sherry have
been there and done that. Think
of the other things that went on
in between everything else that
was going on. Think of other events
that happened, weddings, funerals
sickness..Life was not dull...for
either one of us.

Mevely317 said...

Come your introduction to Captain Hill, I began getting goosebumps ... they're still there! What an honor, Jack.

Tho' I've never had 'up-close' experience with anyone performing active military duty; I'm fascinated by the rituals and interactions you describe.

PS - I had to smile at your story of Sherry's 80wpm + mention of shorthand. No under-achiever there, my friend :)

Chatty Crone said...

I enjoyed this as I think I have told you that my niece and her husband were there in Virginia and now I know what it looks like.