After I retired from the Navy, I went to work for GEICO insurance as a Management Intern. That was a mistake!! Don't get me wrong, GEICO and the President of the company, Ton Nicely were great. But being a Management Intern made everyone I came in contact with think I was going to take their job! I left GEICO after a year and went to work for NavSea Cen Lant. I have written before about getting that job. Having friends in high places is always a good thing.
Immediately after getting hired, my Supervisor sent me to Fleet Training Center, San Diego to take the 16"/50 Class "C" school course. When I got to San Diego, I discovered that Jim Mitchell, was the Director of Gun School. He was the GMM Detailer that relieved Vern VanMatre. He went Warrant and then went LDO. He was a O-3 as the Director of the school. I needed computer access to make reports back to my Supervisor in Norfolk and I needed a computer to work on a College course that I was taking. Jim told me he would meet my request if I did something for him. He wanted me to write an evaluation of the 16"/50 course. He told me my review would only be between him and me. Or, at least that is how I remember it.
When the nine week course was complete, I provided Jim a rather large, typed, report of my opinions on the Course curriculum, the instructors, and the class administration. It was pretty brutal! I provided examples by name and date of deficiencies that I found. Some of these were pretty dangerous. Like the young sailors drinking Lunch! There even were times, I had to teach part of the class because the Instructor did not understand the equipment. Trust me, a Power Off Brake is the same in a MK 42 5"/54 and a 16"/50 Triple Gun Turret. Needless to say, the course was useless.
I gave Jim my review on Thursday. We were leaving Friday morning after a brief graduation ceremony. Thursday night, I went to the Chief's Club to say good by to many of my active duty friends. We started drinking at about 11AM. We closed the club at 0100! My very good friend, Master Chief Jim Smith was there the entire time. It seems Jim and I always drank too much when we were together. I guess I was a bad influence on him! In any case, the next morning, I was in BAD shape!! But, I made muster in the classroom and tried to drink coffee. At about 8AM, Jim Mitchell came in and told me the Commanding Officer of Fleet Training Center wanted to meet with me about my report! I looked terrible, smelled like a bourbon bottle, and could not put three words together in a cohesive sentence! So, I went back to the BOQ I was living in and took another shower, tried to throw up, and tried to sober up! Trust me, the only thing that will sober a person up is time!! And I did not have that. But, at 11AM, I met with the Commanding Officer. I remember that meeting, in that I remember it happened. do not remember what I said or what he said! He did sent a Letter of Appreciation to my Commanding Officer. That was nice. But I bet he wondered how I ever wrote that report.
I am glad I no longer drink like I did when I was on Active Duty or first retired. While the Navy I served in was alcohol centered, it lead to may problems that could have been avoided. Just the same, it was a good way to blow off steam and cement relationships. It was never a good idea to drink to excess before an important meeting. Of course, I did not know I had an important meeting before I tried to drink Canada, dry! Jim slipped that one in on me. No problem, I survived.
Many of the Gunner's Mates I drank with that night have passed away. Others I have lost contact with. But in my, I am still serving with those old Shipmates and I often think about those times we enjoyed some adult beverages at the Chief's Club. Those days may be gone for today's Navy but they live in my mind. The one once thing is, remembering those days and not reenacting them, is much nicer. I don't have a hangover!!