What is was like to go to Yeoman “A” School Training.
I arrived at Meridian, Mississippi, for Yeoman “A” School Training, they called it. It was supposed to be a couple of months long school, where they teach you all the proper ways, to type up Navy correspondence, and other paper work.
I arrived in the middle of the night to my new duty station. The way the dorm rooms were set up, there were 3 guys to a room, and 4 rooms per common area, with sitting tables, TV, and stuff like that, that was like our living room. I remember a really big fat guy, yelling at the top of his lungs, “fresh meat”, he was yelling. Luckily for me, that jerk was just on his way out, and I did not have to put up for him very long at all.
I remember, going the first day, down to school. First, you had to fall in line with everyone else. The whole school marched from the barracks, down to the school, in a military order. Down at the school, they were going to teach us how to type, to start off with. I had had, a typing class in high school, but I never actually learned to type one word on the typewriter. The teacher was nice to me, and gave me a D-, just so I could pass the class. But this was the Navy, and I’m sure they expected me to learn how to type. There was no way around learning to type, it had to be done. I learned to type the right way, and at a certain speed, in about 2 weeks.
The way the Navy teaches you to type, is they show you a movie in the dark, and hide your key board from your eyes. They turn the lights off, and they show you these Navy movies, that are about two weeks long. Each couple of hour movie shows you how to type different words, and before you know it, the movie is done, and you know how to type in your sleep. You do so much repetitive typing, that you end up doing it in your sleep, it seems, and you have to be able to type a certain amount of words, per minute, in order to graduate from the class, and move on to your next duty station.
Besides the day to day learning at school, about doing paper work the right way, and stuff like that. Yeoman school was pretty much just like any other school, you would learn stuff at. Except here, you wore a uniform, and had to get into formation each morning, and listen to things being told to you.
You could pretty much do what you wanted, after school each day. You were allowed to do what you wanted pretty much, but you were not allowed to leave the base, and go into town. I was in Meridian for about two months, but I did not have much chance, to see a lot of different parts of the town, only a few times, when they let us out on liberty call.
At school, most people are coming and going, getting ready to ship out, to new duty stations. People were getting assigned orders to all kinds of exotic sounding in places. They have a thing in the Navy, that they call the “dream sheet”, where you pick three places you would like your next new duty station to be. The Navy says they will try to get you one of your dream duty stations, or as close to one of them, as they can.
I picked Australia, the Philippines, and Hawaii. The Navy ended up giving me orders to a ship that was stationed in Guam. I had never heard of Guam before. I had to go look it up on the map. It was about right in the middle of all three of my duty station selections, but just not one of them. But going to my new ship, would still come later. I still had to finish yeoman school, and graduate from it first. Some people could never get the hang of typing, at a certain speed. They ended up having to drop the school, and pick another job to train for.
School was still a fresh place for most people. We had just finished boot camp, and was learning to have more freedom given to us, and a lot less yelling going on, like boot camp had. Some of the characters, in the units we were berthed in, were just plain crazy.
The building Unit we were all living in, was three stories tall, and had various people living in it. Some of the people that were living in our unit, were waiting to be discharged from the Navy, for various reasons. In one of rooms that was directly below us, was some flamboyant gays living. They were so outrageously gay, and flamboyant about it, like Liberace. A black and a white guy.
The Navy was discharging them both, for being openly gay. They were about the gayest guys I had ever seen, and I think they might of been the first ones I’ve ever seen, in real life, besides on TV. I was from a small town, they could of actually been doing the best darn act, to get out of the Navy, but I don’t think so, no guy would go threw that.
On one of the days, that I was assigned my first watch, it was to be with a partner. We would be a roving patrol for the school grounds for four hours. When I showed up for my watch, I was partnered up with a girl, that was going to be a yeoman also.
As we walked around for our 4 hours on watch time, we did the usual stuff. Just walking around, and making sure nothing was wrong. My new partner I had just met, was asking me, what kinds of drugs I liked to do. I told her my experiences that I had with drugs, and it was limited, and then she told me hers. I had never heard of some of the drugs she was talking about, back then anyway. Now a days, the stuff she said is everywhere, but she was from the city, and said she loved it, and did it all the time, and I did not even know what she was talking about. That was really the first girl I had ever talked to, who wore a uniform just like mine, and I wondered what kind of girls join the Navy?
While I was still stationed at yeoman training school, we got another paycheck. All of a sudden, I had a lot of extra money, and I did not owe anybody any of it. I was looking at a bulletin board somewhere, and I noticed this motorcycle for sale, for $500. It was one of the staff members who was stationed on the base, and also lived on the base, but just worked somewhere else.
Students were not allowed to leave the base, unless they were on liberty. I bought and paid for the motorcycle, with almost all the money, from the paycheck I had just received. The guy I bought the bike from, also gave me a lot of extra parts, like an extra gas tank, gas can, oil, those sorts of things, you get with a bike when you buy it sometimes. I parked the motorcycle in the parking lot of the barracks. I was going to keep the motorcycle, just for me to ride around with, on base, just while I was at school, and then get rid of it. I put all the extra parts, gasoline, oil, etc… in my storage locker that stands up like a small stand up closet, that you are supposed to keep your dress uniforms in.
One day, the staff said, they were going to have a surprise inspection, to see how things were going. We never had any inspections before at the school, so this was new to me again.
When they come in to inspect, they call “attention on deck”, and you are supposed to stop what you are doing, and stand at attention, until someone yells, “carry on”. They had us all line up in front of our lockers, at attention, and they were opening up each locker, and seeing how the guys clothes were put away, and then they came to mine.
When they got to my clothes locker to inspect, and I opened it up for them, they first saw all these gas cans, oil cans, motorcycle parts and more, they did not know what to think. They had to call in special people, to see about the fire hazard. I was told to get everything out of my locker, and I was told I was not allowed to own a motorcycle on base. I ended up getting rid of it to another staff member for $50, that knew I was in a bind.
I did get to ride it around the base, and it was missing the muffler, and it was loud, it wasn’t a Harley, but you could hear me coming. When other guys were in the common area, just sitting around, watching TV, I had been out after school, riding around on my motorcycle, checking out the base, on my motorcycle I was not supposed to have.
At the end of the school graduation, they let the students go out into town. Before you are allowed to go out into town, on liberty call, you are told what to expect, and what to do, and not to do, to stay out of trouble. They said that the town people, do not really like the Navy people, so be careful while you are in town, to avoid any fights.
We all went to one of the most common name brand bars in town, where it was pretty much all guys and girls from the base, not to many locals hanging out. It was going to turn into a giant meat market. Everyone could finally shack up with anyone they wanted to from school, that you could not do in school, or at the barracks. Any male, or female, caught in each othe’s rooms at school, was called fraternization, and was very serious, and could get you kicked out of the Navy. Out in town, everybody ended up with someone, and everyone rented rooms for the night.
School was over, and it was time to join the “regular navy” as they called it, and the regular Navy, meant ships and sea, and going to other countries.
I took my first leave of absence from the Navy, before going to, and reporting for duty, to my first ship. I wore my dress uniform, as I was required to do, and I rode a greyhound bus, from Meridian, Mississippi, to Detroit, Michigan. It was one of the longest rides, I had ever taken on a bus. It must of stopped at every chicken farm ranch, along the way. When I finally got back to Michigan, I was dead beat tired from the bus. I stayed home at my sister’s house for about 10 days.
It was time to go to my first “real” duty station. My first real duty station, was a submarine tender, named the USS PROTEUS (AS-19) that had a little more than 1,300 people on it. 6 of the crew member were ladies, all officer ladies. Half of them would be working in my department.
Source de Vince Stead