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That time I found the Hindenburg Plaque.

I graduated high school in 1987. In August of that year, I joined the Navy. I spent a couple of months in Boot Camp in Orlando before heading off to me ‘A’ school in Pensacola, FL. At the time, the Navy needed people to go into my rate. Because of that, there was an incentive to sign up. I was what they called a “push button” 3rd. Meaning once I completed my ‘A’ school, I was awarded the rank of E4, a 3rd class petty officer. I was proud of that accomplishment.

I wasn’t, however, excited about the fact I was about to go on a Navy vessel. I was terrified of open water.

So, Jay, why did you join the Navy? Isn’t that kind of what they do?

I’ll cover that another time, it’s not important to this story.

Upon completion of my ‘A’ school, my either class, and the class behind us, were told there were now too many 3rd classmen of my rate. Therefore, the fleet didn’t need us at that time. Instead, we were all to be sent to security guard duty and we would be relieving the Marines that were currently doing security guard duty on Naval Weapons Stations.

Whew. No ship for me!

Some of my classmates and I climbed into a giant car, six of us if I recall, and we drove from Pensacola to Pittsburgh, PA. One of the guys was from there and wanted to stop off and live it up before we reported for duty in Lakehurst, NJ where our Security Guard School was going to be. I’ll tell a story about PA another time. Yeah, everything was a story in the Navy.

The lot of us spent a month in Lakehurst. Now, being 18, I knew very little about Jersey let alone Lakehurst. I didn’t know the history. I knew nothing about the place. I was young, dumb, and ….

Every day we’d walk from the barracks across the large field in front of two massive hangars. Inside of one of the hangars was an entire flight deck of an aircraft carrier. When I say massive hangars, I mean wow were they big. It’s difficult to describe their size or how small you’d feel walking past them.

The field was mostly concrete with patches of overgrowth all over. One day while crossing the field, I tripped on something. I had no idea what it was. Being early as we always were, I took the time to rip up the grass over what I’d tripped on. Color me surprised when I uncovered a plaque.

Now, if you look at the plaque online, you’ll see something very different than what I experienced. The plaque had been placed in the spot where the Hindenburg went down 51 years before. The plaque commemorating the 50th anniversary. I don’t know why it was overgrown or why it was allowed to become overgrown. All I know is what I tripped over.

When you look at pictures of the plaque online, you’ll now see it surrounded with anchor chain and a long stretch of concrete and lots of nice landscaping. Back when I tripped over it, that wasn’t the case.

That’s how I found the plaque.

Until next Time!

Stay Awesome!

Audio Only:—0156-e14c0ni

Daily Update: I’m awake and feeling great!

Last night’s writing session was filled with awesome. I had put a note in the last written chapter of To Fall From the Sky <!—Insert more here —> and last night I finished off that chapter, wrote the next chapter, and started another. I write short chapters. Makes the book punchier and it will feel like it’s moving faster if the viewpoint keeps shifting. That’s my personal opinion.

I wrote 2200 words last night and a majority of that was new fiction. I had thought I would be too tired, too mentally exhausted. I almost didn’t write and I was going to just veg out and watch TV, but decided to instead play a level of angry birds, and though. Why am I doing this? And jumped in and started editing the previous chapter because it sucked and then dove in feet first once I had an ah-ha moment while going through some of the older material.

It just happens like that some times. I used to sit down and eat an orange or two and for whatever reason, I began to associate the smell of oranges with sitting and writing and pretty soon a glass of OJ would have me firing on all cylinders.

That’s changed. Now I can sit and just start typing. Like this post, for example. I’ve been doing the daily posts for two months now and they’ve become easier and easier to write. It’s like getting up and stretching. I just do it and I try not to think too hard about it.

I mentioned yesterday that I’d mention how I got here today. Well, I’m not going to start too long ago. I’ll skip the childhood back in the woods (though there are many fun stories from those days).

My brother had joined the Navy. According to him, it was the best thing since sliced bread, so rather than head off to school, I decided to go into the Navy as well. I had scored very high on the ASVAB (finishing all sections long before the timer dinged) and with a 98% I pretty much could decide to do whatever I wanted to do. I did not qualify for a Top Secret clearance due to some trouble as a teen (I won’t go into that here, but it was teenage stupidity) but I did qualify for a secret clearance. That got me in as an Electronic Warfare Technician.

The title sounded like fun. I did my ‘A’ school and had to memorize a lot of codes, configurations, and I knew a lot about missiles of the 80s as well as ships of the 80s. For the most part my job was passive detection.

When I finished my school, I took it because I became E4 out of ‘A’ school, the Navy decided they now had too many EW Petty Officers and sent my class and the class before me (we graduated a class a week) to security duty. The class ahead of mine went to Fallbrook and my class went to Seal Beach. The Navy had gotten rid of the Marines who had been performing the security duty and put us in there.

It was a job. I learned to shoot a lot of different guns (my dad had already taught me how to shoot) and I took some basic courses to help me gain some college credits. All in all I didn’t like the lifestyle of the Navy. The most fun I had was being the drummer in a band during ‘C’ School. Speaking of ‘C’ school.

After nearly 3 years doing security duty, I went back to ‘C’ school . I loved going to school.

*note: I’m a test taker. I take tests in record time.

Each week we had a quiz and 15-30 minutes to take the 10 question quiz, but the instructor gave us as much time as was needed. I would finish in about 10 minutes and be on break until the rest of the class finished. Normally that was around lunch break or 4 hours later. This frustrated me to no end. On test days we could go home after we finished so I was normally back in the barraks watching Star Trek reruns after an hour or two while the rest of the class would come back almost at the end of class time.

I completed my ‘C’ school with one of the highest grades the school had even seen. 98.9%. One person in my class had done slightly better. I graduated. The other person did not. Here’s why.

They had cameras in all the classrooms. They had one camera on me, and one on the instructor. They were convinced that I was cheating because I did my tests so fast. We had a stack of manuals to look everything up in and all you had to do was learn which manual to look certain diagrams up in. To me it was a breeze as was the actual troubleshooting.

They never caught me cheating, but what they did discover was the person with the highest scores in the class sat directly in front of the instructor. So when he would grade my quiz or test, the other person was marking the correct answers, then just looking them up. He was given a BCD. Bad Conduct Discharge (or Big Chicken Dinner) and left the Navy with a dishonorable discharge. Me, well, again they decided they had too many EW Petty Officers. Upon completion of school we were given a choice. Leave the Navy with 4 years under our belts, or carry on for the remaining two of our contract. I chose to get out. Like I said, just wasn’t my lifestyle.

As I mentioned, many of my friends came and went. It was sad to see them go and I’ve never been good about keeping touch with all the guys from Seal Beach or from Cory Station. I always wondering what happened to all my friends who were married by 20 and some having kids. I’m guessing some became lifers. I did have contact with one guy who played guitar and sang in the band I played drums in. He now does landscaping and is still married to the girl he met in Florida. I think that’s awesome.

My remaining time I spent working in the commissary checking IDs. I had 2 months to go for my four years and then it was time to go home.

More on this story tomorrow.

Until Tomorrow!


Daily Update: Oh, I might as well.

Yesterday I wasn’t going to walk/jog. Yesterday I wasn’t going to blog or write. I wasn’t going to blog today either, but I am. Why?


I had my fastest time on my circuit yesterday. I jogged more than I walked. It hurt a little, but overall it felt great to get out there. I can tell my fitness level is improving because I’m moving quicker. It’s easier to go up and down the stairs (the first few days of walking were torture). My legs don’t stay sore as long after walking either. Overall it’s making me happier.

So yesterday I wasn’t going to blog either. Again I’m glad I did. I had a ghost story that I shared from my Navy days it even though it’s a ‘told’ story, it was still fun to write it down. It made me remember a lot about those days in the Navy when I did security duty. I had a lot of “I wonder what happened to so-and-so” moments.

I’ll give you a behind the scenes to the ghost story. Even though I cannot tell you what passed over the Blazer, I can tell you this. There was a fire, and it was put out. Long after I’d left the base I found out that one of the people I worked with had been setting fires all over the base. Usually small fires. Even though he’d been accounted for, it was over radio. He’d left the base when it was his 6 hours off and had walked out into the field in question and set the fire. He was the shadow I saw running around the fire. He was lucky to put it out in time before we got there. After the incident he had to take a few days off due to illness that I later found out was smoke inhalation. He was eventually caught and court-marshaled when he burned down a building that contained many of the base’s shipping and receiving records.

So even though the whole incident still gives me the creeps, I do know most of what happened that night. He was able to get part of the fire out, the rest burned into on open area with no fuel to keep it going. I only know this because we did talk many years after. Once he got out of jail that is. But that’s a story for another day.

At any rate, I’m glad I wrote yesterday. Why? It was one of the busiest days on the blog. I had a lot of people stop by to read the story and that made me really happy. How happy? Happy enough that I got up off my duff, got a haircut and went for my walk. When I finished I had intend to write, but dinner appeared, I wanted a TV show, got interrupted many times, but finally got about 100o words cranked out.

Despite it all, I had a productive day. I hope to have a repeat performance this evening.

Until next time!