8. The Payoff
About the eighth week of boot camp the orders arrived assigning us to our various first duty stations. A large percentage of the recruits were ordered to training schools, some to undergo highly technical training that would occupy them for most of their first year in the Navy. Others would train as machinists or electricians or aviation mechanics or in other industrial-type occupations. Some of us went to administrative training programs and some were going straight to ships as “non-designated strikers,” to start out swabbing decks, chipping paint and doing other manual labor before, perhaps, getting on-the-job training in some occupational field.
I had been moderately optimistic about getting orders to Journalist School, at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, near Chicago, but was relieved when the CC read my name and assignment off the list. I had done as the recruiter had advised — I gave my “utmost effort” on the Basic Battery tests. As a result, I was one of three who scored 70 or better (out of a perfect 77) on the educational development test.
There were several guys I knew would have scored better if they had realized, as I did, how important those tests would be to their success, or lack of same, in the Navy. We took the tests in a hot, stuffy room and some guys had trouble just staying awake. I blamed our CC for not making sure his charges were aware of the long-term significance of those test scores.