M.H. That's always one of the first questions I get.
Some of you may be familiar with the U.S. Navy Submarine Service, but for those who aren't I'll explain as briefly as possible how they weed out the "normals" and end up with guys like me. Seriously it is quite the process.
The Submarine Service is strictly volunteers only. As such the Navy imposes strict requirements for qualifications to serve onboard a submarine. It all starts in Boot Camp. Where the normal sailor received a cursory psychological screening I was interrogated/browbeat/harangued/etc in an effort to see if I could stand up to mental stress. Some of the questions they asked were designed with NO CORRECT RESPONSE. The interviewers simply wanted to see how you respond and in what manner.
Some of the questions I remember:
**How would you feel if the guy in the bunk above you hadn't showered for a month?
**If you were the last man alive on board the sub and the order came to launch the missles would I be able to do so without any hesitation?
**What if the only flavor ice cream was vanilla?
They interviewed me at least 6 times in boot camp and it continued at Basic Submarine School.
The "best" part were the physicals. I felt like I had been screwed, blued and tatooed when they were finished. All jokes aside they checked everything. I spent more time with my pants down than up it seemed.
This went on until the last week of Submarine School. Out of the 83 volunteers that started out only 42 graduated. I felt fortunate as hell. I had two good friends get booted out for seemingly minor details. One guy had an elevated iron count in his blood. The other guy had too much fun one weekend and was 10 minutes late for Monday morning muster. No mercy was given.
I almost bit it myself. After the first exam I found I had barely passed. The minimum score to stay in the school was a 2.4. I had a 2.399 (no kidding) and the E-8 (Senior Chief Petty Officer) in charge of the enlisted students chewed me a new one but in the end gave me one more chance. I forgot to mention the night before the test I spent in a drinking contest that I lost and just barely made it back for morning muster myself. Have any of you ever taken a 2 hour exam still totally shi*-faced? Heck, I was pretty proud of myself to have even done as well as I did.
The long and short of it was the Navy got highly intelligent people who were a little on the edge of normal society. Every guy I served with was a certifiable genius, but each one had some personality quirk. I loved it and wouldn't trade it for the world.
So how did I stand it spending months without seeing the sun? To this day I have no real answer other than you stayed so busy you didn't have time to think about it. I read thousands of books and played a like number of cribbage hands to keep my mind busy. It was only towards the end of my time that I started giving serious thought to just how dangerous my job was but by then it was like a second skin and I would have felt strange not doing it.
I hope this gives a some insight to any who are interested. I apologize for using this space for something besides what it was intended for but M.H. did ask.
Posted on Nov 15, 2010, 9:15 PM from IP address 22.214.171.124