How I became a GatorFebruary 26 2012 at 12:06 PM
BP (Login FTG2)
At Great Lakes Fire Control School they announced that anyone that finished in the top 10% of the class could pick the coast they wanted assigned to. If you graduated in the top 5% you could pick the type of ship you wanted. (Military promise)
I made it to the top 5% and requested the East Coast. I had always heard of all the exciting ports of call in the European theatre. Being in the Gunnery division I wanted something with a lot of guns on it.
My first set of orders was to an aircraft carrier out of Norfolk. Oh happy day. Lots of guns and fire control systems on a bird farm. Butů. as luck would have it, she had to go into dry dock for extended repairs so my orders were changed at the last minute. I was assigned to the pre-commissioning detail of the USS Manitowoc, a new construction LST being built in Philly. The Navy said they had kept their promise because after all it did have two gun mounts on it and it was on the East Coast.
After finally being commissioned we sailed south. When we were going through the Panama Canal we questioned why. After all the European theatre was the other way.
They explained that we were headed for our new home port at Long Beach. From there the next stop was Viet Nam. Not a lot of R&R there. After sea trials in the stormy North Atlantic and going through two hurricanes in the Pacific I think I paid my dues and I am proud to call myself a Gator Sailor.