From memory, without benefit of a tech manual or even a pencil and paper, I used to be able to take the fire control signal,including train, elevation, fuze setting; and diagram the electrical, electronic, hydraulic, and mechanical systems from error to in-sync! Now, I can't even trace B-end response canceling the error signal. In the MK 42 gun mounts, there were Pointing and Non-Pointing Zones that most Gunner's Mates considered Pure Magic. I completely understood them and successfully taught them when I was an instructor at Gun School. I have blogged before about understanding, completely, the MK 42 gun mount's carrier control valve block and it's electronic circuits. But, as many of you know, I have a degenerative neurological disease that is impacting my memory. Since this disease is progressive, my early memories were not effected until now. But, try as I may, I am loosing those precious early memories. And I do try to recall and relive those early days. Today, I have been thinking, racking my brain, about the power drives of MK 42 gun mounts. It, does not matter to most people, but it really matters to me because it defined, for so many years, who I was. I did not do anything recreational, no hobby, nothing but Gun Mounts! Early in my career, I worked for some great Chiefs and Petty Officers and they strive to be the best at what they did and they instilled that drive in me. So, loosing what I believe to be a defining part of my being is disturbing.
But, what bothers me even more is that I do not believe today's sailors are getting the same leadership that drives you to be the subject matter expert in your chosen technical field. At NAVSEACENLANT, or what ever name they went by, I saw sailors come and go. Some were exceptional, but most were adequate. And as my career there went on, the ration of great verses adequate, went down. I hate to say this, and I don't say it lightly. Furthermore, it may not be the entire fault of the senior sailors. Our "A" and "C" school system is completely broken. It is computer based with NO hands on experience. The instructors are not sailors from the fleet but ex-sailors and retired sailors who's expertise has grown stale because of years out of the fleet. When we had fresh, young, fleet sailors as instructors, the level of instruction was very high. Why, because the instructors knew we were going to see those students in the fleet when we returned to sea duty! That in itself is a motivational factor.
So, while I am sailing into the sunset of my life, the Navy must re institute Live, Fleet Return, Lock-Step instruction for all service schools. This is the only way to salvage our technical base.