The USS Bagley Years
Today I’m thinking back, but not about 2020. I’m going back to 1974. This morning Cindie showed me a newspaper clipping she discovered in a card I sent her in 1974. I had already been on the island of Oahu, at NAS Barbers Point for my naval career. The USS Bagley, DE-1069, was to be my last duty station. This is a brief history of my growing up years and my time in the US Navy. Because the pictures are the fun part, enjoy the pictures if you aren’t interested in my story.
The Important Dates
Someday my grandchildren might start asking questions about my service in the US Navy. I might not remember much if I live to be 85-90 years old. So, to help put some context to the pictures, here are some important dates regarding my life before and during the Navy days.
From Newborn to 15 years old
February 1951-1953: Lived in Chicago at 1330 Troy Street and then c.1953-1955 we lived at 828 North Loomis Street in Naperville, IL. According to information from my parents, we moved back to Chicago c.1955-1956. My parents built their first home in Naperville and we lived at 735 Parkside Road from c1956-1959.
When I was about eight years old, we moved to a new house located at 36 Oakwood Drive in Naperville. We lived there from 1959 until I had started my freshman year in high school. In March, 1966 we moved to a home located at 1913 South Elm Grove Road in New Berlin, WI.
High School Years in Illinois and Wisconsin
High school has a mix of memories. I was not popular and attended four different high schools. This was God’s way of shaking up my world so that I would change from being an average student to being more focused on learning and studying. I went from being a straight-C student to straight A’s. My freshman year started at Naperville Community High School. I was there until March 1966 and wasn’t much of a student. I did enough to get by.
After we moved to Wisconsin, I attended Pilgrim Park Junior High School, because 9th grade was not in the high school. This was a terrible experience and I have no good memories. The first half of my sophomore year was at Brookfield Central High School. It also was a stressful time in my life. Half-way through the sophomore year I was called to the principal’s office. He told me that a mistake had been made. I didn’t belong in the Brookfield school district. I had to switch to New Berlin High School. Thankfully, I was able to spend the balance of my high school time at New Berlin High. I studied and got much better grade – because I had very few friends.
My First Job and the DD-398 “Statement of Personal History”
After graduation from high school in 1969, I went to work at Nordberg Manufacturing Company in Milwaukee, WI. I worked there from June 1969 until I enlisted in the US Navy. On the DD-398 form that I filled out, I made one interesting statement. In response to a question about my loyalty to the United States of America, I said: “I sent a letter to my draft board as an enclosure with a questionnaire stating my disagreement with the method with which we became involved in Vietnam and our present non-committal policies.” I signed the DD-398 March 1, 1971. I probably shouldn’t have said that, but back then I saw the Vietnam War as a terrible mistake. I still think it was.
Boot Camp, “A” School and on to Hawaii
I enlisted in the US Navy and started my first day of duty on September 1, 1971. I was sworn into the service at some location in West Allis, WI. After boot camp at Great Lakes, I moved on to Signalman “A” School at the Newport RI base. I was there from January 3 to February 11, 1972. It was cold!
I graduated and was stunned to learn that I was being assigned to duty at a Naval Air Station (NAS) on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Signalman rarely got duty on land. The signalman skillset is only needed on a ship. When I reported the NAS, they didn’t know what to do with me. That’s a story for another time. I reported to the NAS on February 28, 1972. It was warm and wonderful to be stationed in Hawaii!
I was at NAS Barbers Point when I went on leave on August 3, 1973 for 27 days. I spend that leave in Wisconsin getting to know Cindie.
Sometime around May of 1974 the Navy issued orders for me to report to the USS Bagley. Because my signalman skills were rusty, the Navy sent me to a 15-day refresher signalman school in San Diego, CA. The class was held from May 6, 1974 until May 24th.
My final service days were spent on the Bagley. It was fun. We went to San Francisco, to the shipyard drydock at Long Beach for repairs to the ship (our skipper had crashed into a pier in San Diego, damaging a part of the hull that was under water), and to Coos Bay Oregon.
My best friend on board the Bagley was QM2 Gary McIntyre and we had some fun times together because his family lived in California. The leader of the signalman team was SM1 Bobby Leasman. Number two man was SM2 Barry Hill. I remember both of them and enjoyed working with and for them.
I was promoted to SM2 on board the Bagley on June 16, 1975. That was a short-lived status, because my last day as an active-duty sailor was August 6, 1975. I had served for three years, eleven months, and six days according to my DD214N form. I was ready to be a civilian again and spend more time with Cindie Boyles!