Dear Grandson: I joined the Navy during the Vietnam War. Here’s what happened

Dear Grandson, I joined the Navy in 1966, a time when the Vietnam War was developing. It’s hard to explain, but it became impossible to not go.

Dear Grandson,

I graduated from high school and started at Southern Ohio Business College in downtown Cincinnati taking their Business Administration program. There were many courses offered in this program, English, Spelling, Math, and several facets of Accounting, Basic, Cost, Tax, and Corporation Accounting. Overall, this whole program would take about a year and a half to complete. All the courses were easy, just time-consuming, but we had plenty of time in class to work on and finish projects. I was glad for this, because I could continue my work at Kroger’s meat department.

I also wanted to tell you that not only was I paying room and board at home, but I paid for my clothes, gas, insurance, tuition and whatever other expenses I incurred. I felt very independent, but I know my parents kept a watchful eye on me. I guess for some reason I gave them the impression that I needed watching.

I was working between 40 and 50 hours per week and especially loved the overtime. I didn’t go out much, occasionally on the weekends I would take in a movie or hang out with some of the guys that attended business college. Some of the guys were high school classmates that also went to this business college.

There was always a lot of conversation about Vietnam and the draft and our worry that if we missed class they would drop our names to the draft board. I did not want to get drafted and wind up in Vietnam fighting for the Army or Marines; we were hearing that there were too many Americans dying or being wounded. This seemed to consume our conversations daily and we all were talking about joining the Navy on the buddy plan. Join as a group and then go to boot camp together, this seemed like a great plan. Also on The Big Smoke

One day, all of us went to the federal building to visit a Navy recruiter and they were as nice as pie with us. They made it all look so easy and fun, and I am always one to have fun. I couldn’t wait to get on a ship, see the world and have a girl in every port. All of us were going to finish school at around the same time so it made sense to do this buddy program. The recruiter told us there were no guarantees for jobs in the Navy and we would have to do what the Navy proposed.

On Friday, December 16, 1966, we all swore in to the Navy’s 120-day delay program. Which meant swear in and leave for boot sometime in April 1967.

All of us were done with the structured part of our program and we were now in the final stages of the accounting phase where all of us worked independently from […]

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