A Tale of the Sea and Me (For Sam) – Part 8

When i started writing this section, i wrote a long narrative about how i lost my NROTC scholarship and ended up in Naval Reserve. Yesterday, i realized that stuff is pretty boring, perhaps only interesting to a few, if any, family members.

To make it short, i cut out the particulars and ended up with the following summary:

i lost my scholarship, finally flunked out of Vanderbilt, and because of the contract i had signed with the Navy was required to become a Naval Reserve enlisted for either four or six years. i do not remember which. i began the weekly Tuesday sessions at the Navy Reserve Center in Nashville’s Shelby Park. After testing, i was designated as a radioman striker and began taking courses to advance.

Regardless, when i resumed college at Middle Tennessee, it was impractical, damn near impossible to go to school full time, work two jobs requiring about 50 hours of work a week and commute to Nashville on Tuesdays to attend the weekly reserve meetings.

i went to a lieutenant, my supervisor at the reserve center seeking a solution. He told me i could go into the “Active Status Pool.”

i asked, “What’s that?”

He explained i would go into this pool, not attend meetings, not get paid the very, very small fund a reserve seaman would earn, and unless a requirement arose for my kind was needed on active duty (almost totally unlikely), i would get my DD-214, the document that legally showed i had completed my active duty service in a year’s time.

It sounded like the solution for me. i took that step in at the year’s end, i received my DD-214. i continued pursuing my BA English degree at MTSU, and before my last semester in May 1967, was beginning to look for work as a sports writer.

That’s when i received a draft board notice announcing i was “1A” in the draft from the Selective Service System, further stating i would be called to active duty. In 1967, it was obvious i was, in all probability, headed to Vietnam as a grunt, an army enlistee.

i was not pleased.

i began investigation as to why this could happen when i had a DD-214 denoting i had completed my active duty. Well, i had completed that phase, but i still had a year of obligated service remaining. Since one year was not one of their options, i would have to serve two years. Thus, the SSS policies and procedures changed the course of my life.

i changed direction and began to seek to go to Navy OCS, reasoning i had really enjoyed my time during my midshipman cruise, and it was certainly more attractive than pounding ground in Vietnam.

It turned out that was more difficult than i expected. The Navy was not really drawn to having a flunkie from NROTC attend OCS, but with a review of my appeal, my subsequent academic record at MTSU, and especially a personal letter to the Navy on my behalf from Joseph L. Evins, the respected Democratic representative for Tennessee (he somehow knew my parents), i was accepted by the narrowest of margins.

After graduation in August, i traveled once again to Newport, Rhode Island in mid-September, this time more wisely choosing to fly rather than taking a Trailways bus.

The next phase of my sea adventures began.

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