I served in Cryptologic Direct Support teams deployed by the U.S. Naval Security Group aboard 15 ships and submarines between 1972 and 1993. During those few years, I earned and was awarded the Dolphins of a submariner, was selected, initiated, and promoted to Chief Petty Officer, and was recognized among the top 10% of Russian linguists in the Naval Security Group.
In August, 1972, I enlisted in and was sent to Naval Communications Training Center, Corry Station, in Pensacola, Florida where I completed training in the Communications Technician (Operations) rating in the Naval Security Group Command. While at Corry Station, I was successfully took the Foreign Language Aptitude Test—my score of 38 (the threshold for language training was 18) qualified me for basic linguist training. I applied and was accepted for training to “cross-over” to the Communications Technician (Interpretive) rating.
In March, 1973, I entered the Defense Language Institute, East Coast in Washington, DC to learn the Russian language. I successfully completed that course and subsequent training at the Naval Technical Training Center Detachment aboard Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas.
In September of 1974, I stepped aboard USS AMERICA (CV-66) at Pier 12 on U.S. Naval Station, Norfolk, VA for the first of 15 cryptologic direct support deployments. I subsequently served with Cryptologic Support Elements aboard:
- USS HAMMERHEAD (SSN 663)
- USS FORRESTAL (CV-59).
- USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62).
- USS SARATOGA (CV-60)
- USS NARWHAL (SSN 671)
- USS BERGALL (SSN 667)
- USS WILLIAM H. BATES (SSN 680)
- USS SKATE (SSN 578)
- USS TUNNY (SSN 682)
- USS RICHARD E. BYRD (DDG-23)
- USS HARLAN COUNTY (LST-1196)
- USS NIMITZ (CVN-68).
- USS FAIRFAX COUNTY (LST-1193)
- USS EISENHOWER (CVN-69)
All of my sea deployments were “temporary additional duty” performed while assigned to shore commands in Maryland, Scotland, Spain, and Turkey.
I earned and was awarded the Enlisted Submarine Warfare insignia (Dolphins) in July 1976 by the Commanding Officer, USS WILLIAM H. BATES (SSN 680), William P. Houley. Commander Houley, who later achieved Flag rank (Rear Admiral), was perhaps the finest boat driver under whom I served and the men in his Goat Locker and crew were equally outstanding.
It takes a really special person who meets and consistenty exceeds the demands of submarine service; in this respect, the crew of the Billy Bates were no different from any crew of any boat in the World’s Finest Nuclear Canoe Club. That’s 120 individuals of different regional, educational, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds who voluntarily serve inside tubes that average 305 feet in length and 32 feet wide that deliberately operate in deep water where no issue can truly be classified as a “minor malfunction”. Those people know their boat has more than 4000 welded piping joints, any one of which could fail at any time. And they know that their boat is driven by men who depend on their ears and technical expertise to identify potential threats from ships and other submarines operating nearby. Submariners can’t predict if or when a catastrophic event will happen; they depend on their ability and that of each of their shipmates to instinctively analyze and successfully react to situations. I'm humbled and honored that they and their C.O. accepted me in their family.
Throughout my service, I trained and led diverse teams of Navy and Marine Corps cryptologic technicians in intelligence collection, analysis, and reporting as well as signals security, operations security, and electronic emissions control. I managed individual and collective training for sailors in professional and military matters, and managed off-duty college education programs for my shipmates at a remote duty station.
In 1983, while serving aboard US Naval Field Station, Sinop Turkey, I was selected for advancement to Chief Petty Officer. I was initiated into the realm of Navy Chiefs at the Naval Security Group Activity, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. I finished my career in 1992 at the Naval Reserve Security Group Activity aboard Naval Station Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I served as the Command Chief and Admin Officer.
- Joint Service Commendation medal
- Two Navy Achievement medals
- Four Good Conduct medals
- Navy Unit Commendation
- Meritorious Unit Commendation
- Navy Expeditionary medal
- National Defense medal