How I Joined The US Navy – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

North DakotaNorth Dakota Skyline

I am proud to be from North Dakota and happy that I was able to grow up with the freedom that is almost unknown in this day and age.

In many ways, you could compare the escapades of my friends and myself much like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn although 100 plus years later and located in Jamestown North Dakota.

All good things must come to an end as they say and as I entered Senior High School, it was apparent that my future was limited in North Dakota, so I started looking at options.

-I loved auto body and auto mechanics but without a college fund and being bored in High School, my potential to attend higher education was limited.

  • There were numerous options for work in agriculture and service industries in the area, but without higher education, my Career possibilities would decrease as my body aged.
  • A military career was possible, but if this were my choice, I would need to leave my family, my friends, and the life and freedom I so enjoyed. The long-term career and training opportunity was a plus.
  • The worst direction was a career that included making big rocks into small rocks if caught. You may think that I am joking, but it was possible being the product of a law enforcement family.

During my junior year, I decided to join the military, and I wanted to be a United States Marine as my primary choice and a United States Sailor as my alternate choice.

  • I met with the Marine and Navy recruiters and decided I wanted to be a photographer or meteorologist.
  • The ASVAB test would determine what I would qualify for, so I held fast until I was old enough to test.
  • It was my goal to sign up for the Marines when I turned seventeen (17) and leave for boot camp once I graduated from high school.
  • A couple of weeks before taking the ASVAB, my dad informed me that he would not sign for me if I went into the Marines so I decided the Navy was the way to go.

RTC Great Lakes - Source: US NavyUS Navy RTC Great Lakes IL – Source: US Navy

Around the time I turned seventeen (17), the Navy Recruiter scheduled my ASVAB test in Fargo North Dakota.

  • Numerous potential recruits and I arrived at the Ramada Inn and commenced to prepare for the ASVAB by getting crocked.
  • Early the next morning we were taken to the AFEEs Station where we would take the ASVAB test, and we were all in poor shape.
  • We took the ASVAB test, and I was sure I was going to be scraping paint in the Navy since I was so hung over.
  • There was no drumroll, but there was a score provided that allowed me to choose any Navy career I wanted.
  • The recruiter was immediately on me to choose nuclear power or advanced electronics, but I wanted to be a photographer or meteorologist.

I held firm in my choices and the recruit detailer determined the timeline for me to leave for the Navy based on the need for photographers of meteorologists.

  • Shocked is an understatement when informed that the wait for these fields was at least twelve (12) months out.
  • These options had to be a set up since the recruiter and station received more points for the fields they wanted me to select.
  • It was back to the drawing board since the wait was too long for careers I preferred jobs.
  • In the end, I selected the advanced electronics field where my career was limited to a select training field.

The paperwork was submitted, and I was sworn into the Navy under the Delayed Entry Program and would leave a week after graduation in 1981.

CPOEnded Up A Chief

We have all made career decisions with limited knowledge of what to expect. In my mind, I had not only selected a career but was also anticipating an adventure.

Thanks for visiting and would appreciate your comments and/or input.

  • Have you ever leaped into the unknown when relocating or accepting a job?
  • Did you make similar decisions when joining the military?

I wish you health, safety, and success. It sure is great being fifty plus going on fifteen.

Jay Patterson

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