33 Years Ago: First Day at Work

April 4th, 2010 by xformed

…in my chosen profession. It was a Monday and I had checked in the prior Saturday night while the USS MILWAUKEE (AOR-2) was moored on the southside of Pier 2 at Norfolk Naval Station. LTJG George Parrish, the Ship’s Navigator was the CDO that Saturday night. He ended up being the first one I carpooled with from the Virginia Beach area to our normal location at NOB.

But on Monday morning, I began real work, after many years of study and almost a year of directly related schooling.

My assignment was to be the Combat Information Center/Electronic Material Officer (CIC/EMO). I met CDR Dave Martin, the XO, LCDR Frank Mueller, the Operations Officer, LT Randy Rice, the Communications Officer, CAPT Richard Wright, the Commanding Officer, and, shortly after lunch, ET2s Mike Krutsch and Craig Johnson, when they needed a set of initials on a CASREP Update. The officer I was relieving was on leave, so I didn’t meet him for a few more days.

But the highlight of the day, was OSC Michael P. McCaffrey. USN, inviting me to the Chief’s Mess for a cup of coffee.

It was a day full of good sea stories, another one was about the schooling of mine being put to work.

It was not my choice to end up on MILWAUKEE, which, was the oldest ship I served abaord at 8 years when I stepped aboard, I got there by failing to make it through the Salvage Diving Course, but it was a blessing in disguise at about the 14 year point in my career.

Sometimes it takes that long to see what’s the right path in a career path, beyond what you thought was good at 22 years old.

My other shipmates I can recall off the top of my head at the moment were LCDR “Doc” Seibart, CDR Karl Kline, and Engineering Duty Officer who was pushing for EDOs to serve aboard ships as Engineers, ENS Harry Watkins, LTJG Cliff Barnes (DCA), LT Pat Wahl (2nd Div), LCDR Leo Pivonka (1st LT), OS3 Tom Mazzula,and many, many more in a crew of about 450 on a 653′ ship that carried 6M gallons of F76/DFM, 2.5M Gallons of AV GAS and later F44/JP-5, 600 tons of cargo ordnance, and then chow and spare parts.

That part of the Navy is now all in the hands of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), but I was lucky to have begun a career as a Naval Professional on a ship where the main mission was seamanship based.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, April 4th, 2010 at 8:00 am and is filed under "Sea Stories", History, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 responses about “33 Years Ago: First Day at Work”

  1. Angel said:

    God bless u and all our beloved troops!:)

  2. Warrant Diver said:

    I have a MILWAUKEE sea story for you. About 23 years ago (so you must have been gone), I was onboard the ship clearing red tags after a dive job. The ship was moored at the last Navy pier before you get to the Norfolk Shipping Terminals and there were no other ships around at the time.
    I finished my tag clearing by going up to the signal bridge and tell the SMs (any of those left around?) to haul down “Code Alfa” because the diving was done…called my dive boat on the radio to let them know I was done and coming down, they had been moored pierside.
    They answered back, “if you want to ride back with us you have to jump”- I looked over the side, there they were, idling outboard about 70-80 feet below, not pierside any longer.
    “I’m not jumping, it’s too far”
    “Then you’re walking back”
    “Where’s the Chief?”
    “This is the Chief-jump or walk”

    So I looked around, put my radio in my green pants pocket (it was waterproof-I thought, turns out it was just splashproof), climbed over the lifeline, and jumped.
    I screamed till I ran out of breath, took a breath, screamed again, then hit the water like a ton of bricks. Green blouse ripped off, green pants legs pushed up around my thighs, green hat lost on the way down. I went down in the brown Norfolk water until it was pitch black.
    I swam up and looked up, and three Signalman were anxiously looking over the side-and I started to worry about getting in trouble (which you think I would have thought of before, but hey, never said I was a smart guy). I waved, they waved, and I got hauled on board-never heard a thing about it from the MILWAUKEE-and that was the last time I ever saw her.

  3. Joey said:

    LCDR Brian DeMange February 6, 2013 Bernie, Thank you for the great show. You have a talent for gentitg the word accross to folks in a form they understand. (much better than a powerpoint.) BZ to Fleet and Family Services for having the out of the box foresight to have someone like you train our Sailors. I wish you and your family all the best and much succes to you my friend. Cheers, LCDR Brian DeMange

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