37 Years Ago – My EOAS

EOAS – End of Active Service

It’s a military thing. Something that comes up annually – causing me to reflect on all of it – annually. October 10th. 10/10.

Boot Camp began on December 27, 1972. Here is a picture of me in those barracks – my temporary home – after Worm Island, where we spent the first half of our 16 weeks of Formal and Informal Learning. And Social Learning.

This next photo of me in the spring 1973 was taken after Boot Camp, by my new roommate at DINFOS – which of course is military-speak. The Defense Information School – was located back in the day in the north-eastern suburbs of Indianapolis at Ft. Benjamin Harrison (Tippecanoe and Tyler too) – an army fort where DINFOS served all branches of the service. The fort is now an industrial park – with the old golf course still serving golfers – but now serving civilian golfers.

Yes, yes, that article of clothing on the bed was out of regulation.

It was a momentary thing that I am sure I addressed before heading back to class. I recall we were on lunch break when my roommate took this photo – as part of our Photo Journalism class assignment that day (see the Pentax hanging around my neck) to take a photo that wasn’t of the “chiaroscuro” genre. Something I had learned about  – chiaroscuro – back at KU (not to be confused with UK) prior to my enlistment in the USN after dropping out of college for a semester or two to replenish my funds – and then receiving THAT letter from the current President via the Selective Service System saying I had won the lottery. :)

Formal and Informal Learning – All Day and All Night LOng

There in Indy I attended two “A Schools” – Print Journalism and Broadcast Journalism – with other Sailors, Marines, Soldiers  Airmen and I think a Coastie or two. Plus a couple of others from those parts of the US government where their 3-letter acronym organizations kept rather quiet about what they were.  DINFOs trained black shoe enlisted, like me, and brown shoe officers that went on to be Journalists, Public Relations Officers, etc.

On the Ship – the USS Okinawa LPH-3 – I ran a closed circuit TV system, the defunct radio station (marines had destroyed it on the prior Westpac), produced the ship’s Daily Newspaper when we were out at sea, and was the editor for the Ship’s Cruise Book (think HS Yearbook only more exotic). I was in the Gator Navy – 600 Sailors and 2400 Marines and several dozen helicopters.

Remember that last scene in Miss Saigon – where the last helo takes off? That last helo was from my ship – April 1975. I was busy showing TV programming for the 3000+ civilians on board while they were our guests.

The ship had sent me to School – and I flew from our homeport in Long Beach to visit the folks in KC and then drove the old man’s car to Indy in the rain during the Indy 500 race – that I listened to on the radio as I made my way east along I-70.

Informal Learning – For My Command

There was no “Please Rewind.” It was an order to do so – before forwarding my Programming. And to avoid the stuff that always runs downhill, I dutifully rewound every real of film and video tape – so as not to get called on by my ship’s leaders when complaints rolled in from other ships in my network.

Informal Learning – For Fun

Here is me hanging around – in the PI (Philippine Islands) – at Subic Bay.

Note my T-Shirt reads: Olongapo – the town outside the gates. I didn’t learn much there. Except when I was on Shore Patrol – with a baton and not a side arm – which was problematic when trying to retrieve that one drunk Marine out of the ditch as the local police were trying to do the same. The others in that Shore Patrol unit pulled their guns as the police had done – and sent me and another into the watery ditch to retrieve one of our own.

I learned that I never wanted to be on Shore Patrol again. And I found a way to avoid it ever again – overseas and stateside.

My off time was occasionally spent at “Special Services” where me and my shipmates – such as Bill, Jackson and Broussard below – could shoot pool, swim at the pool, check out snorkeling gear, camping gear, etc. And I learned that last names are all shipmates ever need or would ever use when addressing each other.

Informal Learning in Hong Kong

Always walk the streets and look behind you by looking at reflections in the windows of the storefronts. I learned that after being made paranoid by another shipmate getting stabbed in the butt while walking in a crowd in Kowloon. After that incident we had to wear our uniforms while on Liberty. Yes, we were a clearer target for those who would do us harm – but on the other hand the Shore Patrol could  pick our bodies out of any pile a whole lot easier – if need be.

Here is the OKI Boat in Victoria Harbor.

Informal Learning – Sailors and Moustaches

Mine had a long way to go – compared to this Old Salt – who worked for The Hong Kong Ferry (in the news, tragically, a couple of weeks ago).

I have never seen a better Moustache up close since that day in 1974.

I also learned that the British businessmen would always send a pitcher or three to our tables when we went to Ned Kelly’s Last Stand – in Kowloon. But only when we were in uniform.

Formal & Informal Learning – Photo Composition

Move quickly when taking pictures. Good shots can come and go by quicker than the shutter speed.

Informal Learning – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Riding in LA and San Diego

I learned to drive/ride my new motorcycle – a small Honda 450 – on the streets of Long Beach and LA. That was a trip.

Imagine riding down scenic 101 in your first week – and being overtaken by a long line of Hells Angels – sharing the one lane with them as they buzzed by. It was like it was yesterday.

Soon thereafter our Home Port was moved to San Diego – home of my Boot Camp. But this time I had wheels and some time (Liberty) to take advantage of the area.

Informal Learning – Julian CA and Keeping Your Balance

I learned that poor Sailors spend their money and their free time throwing Frisbees and drinking beer. And getting away often meant up into the mountains with the gang. Fellow shipmates and the usual camp followers from the OKI Boat – up in Julian. Home of the Apples. I did put two and two together about where those Julian Apples came from that I had enjoyed in my youth in the suburbs of Chicago and KC.

I also learned to instruct all riders on the back – about the importance of leaning like the driver – so as to not negate that necessary balancing posture when winding down mountain roads.

I learned that after almost scraping the guardrail when one rider chose to counterbalance my balancing act. Off onto the shoulder and up against that guardrail we went – with a 100+ foot drop off on the other side to the switchback – as a possible shortcut to our destination.

And that is one of the reasons I am still here to reminisce about all of that – from back in the day.

My Editorial Comment in the USS Okinawa Cruise Book of 1974

That was perhaps the greatest Learning.

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