When I was a student in MK 42 "C" school, at Great Lakes, Illinois, I was blessed to have a class of exceptional individuals. There were three Chiefs in my class, two who later promoted to Master Chief, a First Class who I has written about before briefly, Red Mills, a Second Class who was an exceptional leader even then, myself, a "Fleet Return" Third Class, and a number of new Gunner's Mates just out of the Boot Camp/"A" School pipeline. I worked hard in "C" School, because I wanted to succeed and I wanted to advance. I had a God given ability to remember anything related to my rating. Some of my friends said I had near total recall. I may have, or it may have just been my love for the Gunner's Mate rating and what we did. In any case, I was academically, number one in my class. My friend, GMG1 Red Mills, was getting ready to take the Chief's test and he asked me to help him study gun mount power drives and fuze setters. I agreed and we began to study evenings at school. Soon, other First Class Petty Officers joined our study group. That was good, because I was also getting ready to take the Second Class test at he same time. So I was learning and so were they.
The day came and we all took our advancement tests. Actually, the tests are on different days, but we all took our tests. Then the wait for the results. When the Second Class results came I was in shock! I had FAILED the exam!! I could not understand. I studied for six months, what the bibliography for advancement said to study. I was number one in my "C" school class, and I was helping others through a study group. How did I fail the exam. I was devastated. The best score I received was a Very Poor!! Well, two of the Chiefs in the class, Chief Mowery and Chief Morris, both thought the same way. They told me to go to the barracks and get the sheet I received when I took the test. That sheet tells the serial and series of the advancement exam that you take. They they compared those numbers to the serial and series on the results sheet I was given. Chief Mowery found the problem. I took a 67 series test and was graded on a 72 series answer sheet. He told our instructor he was going to the Navy Exam center to straighten things out. At this time in Navy history, the Navy Exam Center was at Great Lakes, Illinois. Not far from Naval Training Center where Gun School was. Armed with my two pieces of official paper, off he went to the Exam Center. The Chief was gone the rest of the day.
Now I have told you a little about Master Chief Mowery, but let me expand a bit. Bill was a big man, powerful, even ominous in appearance. He normally got what he wanted, when he wanted it. He was a professional and he expected perfection. We later served on the USS Stein together, and he was a big reason I made Chief. That being said, I can imagine Chief Mowery stomping into the Navy Exam center and demanding to see my test and demanding they grade it on the correct scale! NOW!! In any case, the next morning, Chief Mowery walked up to me and said, "You made Second Class. You will be promoted in the first increment." And a couple of weeks later, the paper work came backing that up.
I learned a lot that day from Bill Mowery. You stick up for your folks, especially when the system has failed them. You always go the extra mile to make sure your sailors are treated correctly. He always treated me that way, and everyone else who met his standards. Master Chief Mowery was a real leader, and a great mentor. I owe you Bill, and I will always remember you. Thanks!!
A closing note; As many of you know, I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Dementia. That is one reason I am writing this blog. The PD is annoying and sometimes disabling. I now use a cane to help with stability. But the Dementia is robbing me of my ability to remember and learn new things. My near total recall is now completely gone. I have trouble remembering words or even forming sentences when I am tired and on a few occasions, briefly, I have lost the ability to read. I get lost in my own mind, and can't remember from one moment to the next what I wanted to do. I see folks that I work with everyday, and have for twenty years, and I don't remember their names. This is the frustration and demoralizing truth of Dementia. Today, my mind permits me to remember the past, I know that will be taken from me soon also. So, I will write as long as I can. To preserve what I have learned to help others, and to help me remember what was so important to me for 40 years.