While most agree that SSBN's were the major factor in keepingMoscow in check from the late 50's through the 90's - few areaware of the role played by thousands of Sailors scattered aroundthe world on several ships - keeping those SSBN's in peak conditionand on station. In the heat of the cold war - while the visiblewar raged in Viet Nam... "The 41" were out there - enforcingthe peace that most American's have taken for granted. They couldstay out there - year in and year out - in large part due to thededicated professionals aboard the tender.
This story is about the 4 years that one young sailor servedaboard one of those ships; - and the lifetime impact of that experience.
There's something happening here; And what itis ain't exactly clear;There's a man with a gun over there Telling me that I've got tobeware...
What a field day for the heat: A thousand people in the street;
Singin' songs, and carryin' signs, Mostly say "hooray forour side"!
I think it's time we stop, children what's that sound?
Everybody look what goin' down ...BuffaloSpringfield
It was the late 1960's... the United Stateswas still smarting from Stalin's aggression after WWII - NorthKorean and Chinese aggression against South Korea in the early50s-- and Khrushchev's attempted move into Cuba in 1961. PresidentJohnson had committed to stopping the communist's expansion whatever it took - so we were involved in that rather "distasteful"business in South-East Asia - to which he was sending what seemedlike an "unending supply" of men. To fill those "billets",the Selective Service was conducting a Lottery to determine whichof us would go to Viet Nam and joust with dying. Like many youngmen at the time - I didn't care much for the idea; so when I hadreason to believe that I had "won" that lottery - Idid the honorable thing - and joined a branch of service - andvolunteered for a type of duty - that would guarantee I'd notgo to "Nam". For a price - the Navy was willing to bargain.The Price: a 6 year enlistment. Well in my book - "6 yearsof Navy" beats the heck out of "6 feet under" sothe decision was a no-brainer. Perhaps my motives were a bit suspect- but I wasn't running off to Canada either...