From: Don Dick [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, July 28, 2006 10:02 PM
Subject: RE: book, frivolous addendum
Am relieved that it came through o.k. to you. It was hard to condense nearly 60 years onto part of 1 page. There were a couple of other experiences I thought about including but there just wasn’t room unless reducing to about 6-point type.
I was separated in 1950 when the Phil Sea was in Norfolk just prior it to journeying through the Panama Canal to a new home base in San Diego. My orders read “on or about 1 June” which gave me 10 days either way. I chose the early side, rather than wait to get out in San Diego. Then when separated the second time in 1953 in Newport, I also requested the earliest time, anxious to get back to Kodak and Rochester. Don’t know how many others who got out fell into the same trap I did. My request for transfer to Inactive Standby Reserve status, based on 3 years Regular plus 2 years Reserve equaling the required 5 years of active service, was denied. Reason: Insufficient active service. I was about 18 days short because I had been separated on the early side of “on or about” each time. I had to wait another 3 years (didn’t attend drills or do anything Navy) to fulfill the 8-year total service requirement to cut the umbilical cord to the Navy completely, which was finally effective as of 06 Sep 55.
While the ship was in Norfolk, just before my separation, along with others I received orders to take the 1-day ensign->Ltjg promotion exam at the Norfolk Naval Air Station. I couldn’t have cared less about promotion. However, rather than get tangled in the red tape of getting those orders cancelled, I decided to just go ahead and take the exam. Besides, it was a day ashore. I was probably the most relaxed of anyone in the room. I didn’t think I did very well, having done zero cramming for the exam, but then most of the others seemed to feel similarly unsure of how they did. Interestingly, I never received any notification of the results, nor did I care. A year later, when called back for duty at Newport OCS, my orders said Ensign Dick, and that was how I was processed upon reporting. I wasn’t aware of the chatter which took place between OCS administration and BuPers. After about 2 months on the job I was told there was a screw-up. I was really a Ltjg, got differential back pay to my reporting date, and had the extra half-stripe sewn on my uniforms. Speaking of uniforms, that was another surprise upon reporting to OCS. The paymaster looked at my records and commented that I had not yet received my uniform allowance. I had all my uniforms but he insisted on paying me a couple of hundred bucks. On 1 July 53 I was promoted to a full Lt. Barbara was pregnant with our 1st when I was recalled. We also had our 2nd while at OCS, both born at the Newport Naval Hospital. The 1st cost us $10.50, the 2nd only $5.25 because she was discharged a day early because they needed the bed. By comparison, hospital costs for our third – born in August, 1954 in Rochester, were around $500. Kodak was a great company (having problems these days). When I returned they told me my pay rate would be adjusted, compared to when I left 2 years earlier, as if I had been on the job receiving normal incremental pay raises. On top of that, returning in October, I was informed that I had 2 weeks of vacation coming which I had to take by the end of the year. And that was on top of a $300 military bonus they paid me when I left, even though I’d only worked there a year and 5 days. I was beginning to think that being a Reserve was a hell of a lot better than being a Regular.
To clarify a point in your e-mail, Barbara and I were married the day after graduation in her home church in Elizabeth, NJ – not in the Academy chapel. You and I still have to honor our wives on the same anniversary date, however.
Rochester and Kodak have been good to us. We’re living in the house we had built for us in 1954, struggling then to manage the $17,900 debt we’d taken on. We needed the 5 bedrooms back then. Barbara and I rattle around in it now.
I left the Navy behind to focus on a new life. People are surprised that I have never been back to the Academy since graduation. I do have a pipeline, though, through Bill Jones (William F.) who was both a classmate and a Phil Sea Shipmate, and also worked for Kodak, though in a different division. Bill still has blue & gold flowing through his veins, subscribes to Shipmate and other pubs, and keeps up with Navy news. He lost his wife to cancer a couple of years ago. Sonia and Barbara were bridge partners for many years. Bill and I see each other occasionally and talk on the phone frequently. His grandson is in an NROTC program at Cornell University. I spend a lot of my time at my computer. Quite a while back I had an e-mail exchange with Cab Davis who lived across the hall with Dave Commack 1/c year, and with Cy Waldrop (basketball teammate). Thanks to you and the list of ’48 e-mail addresses, more recently I contacted Bill Bass, a plebe year roommate, and we did catch-up. Barbara and I used to exchange quite a few Christmas Cards with Navy friends, the number now dwindling through deaths – especially sad to lose my 1/c roommate, Jim Osmer, and John Virts (wife Cass) whom Barbara and I came to know well at OCS.
My life has been so full and rich here in Rochester I find it hard even to imagine what it would have been had I stayed in the Navy. I do strongly recommend that people write down at least a few memoirs for posterity, if not an autobiography as I am doing. I find it amazing the things which are popping out of the nooks and crannies of my feeble brain.
To you, Dave, a personal thank-you for the excellent job you are doing getting the word out. I’m not sure how I came to be on your mailing list, but am glad it happened.
28 July 2006