In 1983 I was looking for a summer job and saw an interesting ad where they had all kinds of great benefits and even trained you on the job. I quickly called the number and got an appointment. The next day I arrived at my appointment, a Navy recruiting office.
I didn’t let that turn me away, I wanted to know about all the great things I read in the ad. They gave me the presentation and got me set up for testing. Scores came back and I was accepted into an 6 year advanced electronics program. 2 years of school, finishing with an E3, then 4 years on a nuclear sub. Man I was all pumped. Life had just taken a new meaning. Finally, that 8 year old kid, who wasn’t good enough for his bench warming father, was going to make something of himself.
A few months before my ship date I had a high speed crash, on a three-wheeler, and tore the ligaments in my left shoulder. Doctor said I wouldn’t be able to do pushups for a year. My father, the same guy who thought he was a man by giving an 8 year old 15 licks for not meeting his performance expectations in a peewee football game, tried to tell me to lie and just limp through boot camp using one arm.
I ended up telling the truth and showed the Navy Dr. the note from my doctor explaining the limitations of my shoulder injury. The Navy Dr. called for them to take my back home without a blink.
This was the climax of 10 months of excited anticipation. There would be no on the job training, no seeing the world, nothing, all gone. All I had was the picture of the sub I would have been serving on posted to my wall.
I remember telling my dad, who was in his final weeks at the hospital, that they wouldn’t let me go because of my shoulder. Two weeks later my father died.
As much as I want to feel gratitude for those who served, this day is a bitter sweet reminder of one my biggest heart breaks in life.