A warning before we begin this little journey:
This is going to be a long one. So grab your cup of whatever you prefer, sit down and get comfortable. You are going to be here awhile. Second warning, if you make it all the way to the end of this dissertation of mine you are going to find yourself closing your browser and saying to yourself, "That guy is as full of shit as a Christmas Turkey!". And to be honest, I wouldn't blame you in the least. Hell, I still can't believe it and I actually lived through that nightmare. Anyways let's get started shall we?
IN an effort towards full transparency, I am going to say for the record here and now.... Every day that I was in the Navy I just wanted to fucking die. Every single day. Not to say I ever considered suicide but I did often wonder if something bad happened to me if it wouldn't be preferable. Nobody hated the Navy more than me. And much like so many others here, I just wanted it to end. So much in fact, I tried to sue my way out. No really. I threatened and actually tried to bring a lawsuit against the U.S Navy for breach of contract.
I joined in late 1988. Like December of 88. Yes, I was so retarded I agreed to go to basic training at Great Lakes Illinois, December 21st. Yeah, you are already saying to yourself, "Yep...this guy really is an idiot". Correct you are sir! Needless to say we practically froze to death. Not something I care to repeat. Now my job going in was what was known as "AW". Or more correctly, "Anti-Submarine Warfare". There were three platforms for this. A Jet known as an S-3. A Helo and the much sought after P-3 Orion. Everyone wanted that P-3 because it kept you from ever climbing aboard a ship. Considering at that time they could not be launched from a carrier. Thankfully, I never had any of the three thrown at me. Fortunately I never got that far.
After the initial 8 week nightmare in Great Mistakes (is it still called that???) I was sent to Pensacola Florida where I was to complete what was then called, "Aircrew school". You may know this as the place those Navy instructors murdered Lee Mirecki by drowning him. A lovely place to be I can assure you. Somewhere during that ordeal down there I injured myself climbing a 12 foot wall. Although to what extent I wasn't fully aware at that time. I to this day cannot comprehend what running an obstacle course, climbing over walls and crawling through sand could possibly have anything to do with flying around in an airplane while hunting down submarines...but hey!! Welcome to the Navy right? After that fiasco where I learned that I could swim literally a mile in a flight suit, tread water for 30 minutes at a time...and quite literally almost drown in the helo-dunker... I was off to the dreaded Millington. I'd like to digress somewhat and say that through all of this...slowly day by day my attitude was going right the fuck downhill. To use an analogy, my entire outlook was going down faster than a 2nd cousin at a Tennessee family reunion. (And that's pretty fast!!) So I began looking a way out. But as hard as I tried, I couldn't find one. I never felt so trapped in my entire life. At that time all aviation schools were sent to Millington where you sat in a classroom day in and day out. Mine was no different. But my injury was getting worse. After my second trip to medical I was told there was no way I was going to be able to do my job. As potentially I could find myself in that same P-3 for up to 10-12 hours at a time. They told me, "Don't worry...we'll find you another job". Oh Shit! did I just stumble onto my exit?!?!? Things start looking up:
I was sent to the navy detailer. I don't have a precise definition of what this woman's job entails but we will call her career councilor for the Navy. While looking for a respectable way out of this God forsaken disaster I put myself in, I had read through my contract forwards and backwards. I knew exactly what it said and how it said it. I had my way out. (Yes dear gracey....there is a light at the end of the tunnel) In that contract it states that if something happens due to circumstances beyond my control, that make me ineligible for my job, that I have the choice of either reassignment or separation from the Navy. THERE WAS MY EXIT. When I mentioned this to the career councilor lady she said, "Well..I'm not sure if they will let you go". I informed her that if they didn't I was going to spend the rest of my enlistment suing the Navy. (And I meant it) She said she would get back to me in a few days. I immediately went to the lawyer we had on base and explained what was happening. He read the relevant part of the contract and then said that I was right. In fact, he stated that he doubted very seriously if this would even make it to court and that I was definitely getting screwed. However he made it very clear that he could not represent me as he was the Navy lawyer and could not represent me against his own employer. Fortunately, it never got that far.
The Phone rings:
I was working in the barracks 2 days later when she called me again. She said, "Ok Johnny, if that is what you want they agreed to let you go". I wanted to be very clear on this. I made sure we weren't talking about a general discharge or some other crap. An honorable discharge, no strings attached, right?!?!? She agreed and asked me to come to her office later that day. I put the phone down and went screaming down the hallway of our barracks. No really. I went running down the hallway screaming! People were sticking their heads out their doors and shit wondering what was wrong with me. They must have thought I was a fucking lunatic. My God, it was finally over!!!!
I arrived at her office and I signed a few things. She looked at me at one point and said, "Ya know Johnny I'm supposed to try and keep you in the Navy. Try to find you another job, etc. But in your case I don't think I'm even going to bother". I said nothing. (Did I mention it was finally over?)
I was then sent to some E-6 that does discharges. Yeoman I guess?? He had me sign some more crap, turn in a few things the Navy had given me such as my flight suit, flight jacket, k-bar knife, etc. He looks up and says, "You know...most people want to keep the leather flight jacket. If you just write down stolen/missing they will simply take it out of your final pay". I asked how much? He said it would be about 85 dollars. OH HELL NO!!! I told him he could keep it as I really didn't want ANY reminders of this nightmare!! You can have it all! I had actually brought my sea-bag and tried to offer him that as well but he said he didn't want it. He then stuffs everything that I signed and some other crap into a large envelope. He tells me that this will now take about 8 or 9 weeks for this to go through. I SHIT! I had been in the Navy long enough by then to know that nothing gets done in a few days, So I was not sure what I was expecting. But the horrifying prospect of this hell on Earth lasting another 8 to 9 weeks was more than I could fathom. I couldn't take another 8 - 9 weeks for shit sakes! I wanted to know just why in the hell does it have to take 8 or 9 weeks?!?! Apparently it had to go around and a bunch of people sign off on it. Some kind of inter-base company mail thing or some shit. And that's when I had an epiphany!!!!! Wait a minute, why can't I just take it to them?? Needless to say that E-6 looked at me like I had 3 eyes in my head and says, "Do you realize how many people have to sign off on this??". I explained that I could do it. Still not believing what I was proposing I was asked if I had a car. I had to tell him no. That's when he became what appeared to be disgusted. "Oh come on! You can't possibly walk this around the base!". I asked him if I could please be allowed to try. That if I failed what is the worst that can happen? I bring it back to him and he drops it in the mail right? After a few seconds of thought he says, "Well it's no skin off my ass if you want to walk all over hell's half acre....be my guest". And I began. Now there's not too many things that inspire men these days. Perhaps it's the quest for the holy grail. Archeologists trying to track down the Ark of the Covenant. Or in this case... the end of this nightmare!! The base at Millington is not some tiny outpost by any means. I walked. And I walked. I didn't stop to eat....nothing. I walked. The next day I was up and out the door and waiting at my next destination before they had even opened the doors. Nobody wanted out of the Navy as bad as I did! And I walked throughout the entire next day. And the next day....same thing. By 3:30 I was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My God, it was over. I dragged myself back to that Yeoman's office with everything in hand. He was shocked all to hell to see me. Or at least surprised I was still standing upright and not on a stretcher. I was done. He went through everything one last time and then shook his head....."Ok....you're done. I guess you are out of the Navy!". I said nothing. (probably shock???) I got up to leave and about the time I reached for the door he says to me, "I can't believe I'm getting you out of the Navy this quick". I almost completely lost my shit right then and there. I was so close to saying, "You fucking idiot! You didn't do anything! I'm the sonofabitch that is going to need 4 days to recover from that hike you sent me on! All you did was sit behind your desk these last 3 days and gain 10 pounds!!". But I thought better of it. I figured he would try to get me for insubordination even though I wasn't in the Navy any longer and try to keep me there another 2 months or some shit. And believe me, we had sick fucks in the Navy that would GLADLY do something like that just to screw someone over. (And they would get off on doing it, providing them with weeks if not months of shower-head masturbation material in the process) You think I'm exaggerating? Believe me, I'm not.
I called my parents and asked that they be in the parking lot in a few hours. I went back, packed up my crap and dragged it all out to the curb where I waited for more than 2 and a half hours. I didn't even want to sit in the barracks and wait. I didn't want to see the inside of that shithole ever again. I sat on the curb and waited. Around 6pm my parents arrived and just as quickly as possible I threw everything I had in the van and closed the rear cargo doors with me inside. We drove through the gate and I never looked back. My God, it was finally over.
And THAT IS HOW I WENT FROM ACTIVE DUTY TO CIVILIAN IN THREE and a HALF DAYS.
As a side note: The Navy said I could never fly due to my injury. That I could never be in an airplane. 10 years later I received my pilot's license.