Bill's Vignettes

This is my story. It will consist of little pictures, snippets, or vignettes, from my past. It is a legacy to my children and grandchildren and those that may come after and hopefully will also be of some interest to the casual reader who doesn't know me from Adam.

Archive for the ‘FLASWSCHL SDIEGO’ Category

San Diego Liberty

Posted by sundoulos2005 on April 1, 2008

I forget how many days there was to duty rotation at FLASWSCHL. I often was a supernumerary, meaning I had to be on base, was in a duty status, but did not have to stand a watch. Most days I had the ability to go into town on liberty.

My salary was insufficient for doing much. I think the monthly pay for a seaman apprentice (E-2) was $72.00 a month. I had an automatic allotment of $10.00 to pay for my life insurance. Other than that, I had to pay the launderer to clean, starch, and press my whites. We were required always to have clean and pressed uniforms. I lived in the barracks and ate in the mess hall so didn’t have the expense of room and board. There were minor expenses: shoe polish, brass polish, toiletries, etc. I didn’t have much left and it was never enough.

Even though money was always tight, I usually was able to find something enjoyable to do in my off hours.

One option that was always open was watching a movie at the Recruit Training Command Theater. The theater showed current or recent films. I can remember watching only The Robe although I went there several times. All movies commenced with a visual of the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem.

The USO provided free or reduced rate tickets for local attractions. I often went to the San Diego Zoo. Servicemen got in for $1.00 (a one-day adult admission ticket costs $34.00 today). That I could afford. The San Diego Zoo was state-of-the-art. And it was huge! Unable to afford the fare to take the tram, I walked the entire zoo. I would enjoy visiting it once again.

The Zoo is located in Balboa Park, a large inner-city park. Admission to the park was free, although some of the museums charged. The park is home to botanical gardens, pools, and rolling hills of green grass. On the far side of the park was the Balboa Naval Hospital, now Naval Medical Center, San Diego (NMCSD).

Sometimes I would head to Horton Plaza, which was surrounded by cheap-ticket movie theaters. The all seemed to show "B" movies, or worse. You could, for a dollar or less, watch three bad movies in a row.

A couple of times I walked out Rosecrans Blvd. to visit the Cabrillo National Monument and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. That is one long walk!

San Diego offered a wide variety of off-hours entertainment and while some was prohibitively expensive, by walking, using reduced-fare tickets, and generally conserving one’s money a good time was always within reach.


Posted in Balboa Naval Hospital, Balboa Park, Cabrillo National Monument, FLASWSCHL SDIEGO, liberty, Navy, San Diego, San Diego Zoo | Leave a Comment »


Posted by sundoulos2005 on October 17, 2007

My first duty station after boot camp was Torpedoman “A” School at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare School (FLASWSCHL) in San Diego. Everything in the Navy has an acronym. Some can be pronounced. This is not one of them.

The base is probably the smallest base in California. At the time I was there it was home to three distinct units: Torpedoman “A” School, Sonarman “A” School, and a radio command. I was assigned to the radio command while waiting for school to start. Not being skilled at anything I made coffee and ran errands. During my short stay there we had a personnel inspection and I found out that my commanding officer was a Vice-Admiral. It was a small command consisting of less than 25 people. But it must have been an important command to rate such a high-ranking officer.

The base is one of the nicest bases I have been on. There were the school buildings, the radio command building, a few barracks, an enlisted men’s club (EM Club) and a brand new swimming pool. There was at least one pier which almost became two piers when a minesweeper tried to cut it in half. It did not have many of the amenities that larger bases have, but the Recruit Training Command was within walking distance and they had everything.

The base is located at the junction of North Harbor Drive and Nimitz Boulevard. The Recruit Training Command (the Marine Corps side was featured in Gomer Pyle, USMC) was nearby as was the airport. North Harbor Drive was a straight shot into downtown San Diego. On top of all this, the weather was the greatest — always sunny and warm.

Torpedoman “A” School was the primary school for future torpedomen, as the “A” indicates. There are also “B” and “C” schools for more specialized training in a variety of interests and disciplines. The first half of the school I was attending was called E&E school — Electricity and Electronics. Although transistors had been used in commercial applications for five or more years, my class was the first to be taught transistor theory. I liked this part of the school and especially the lab work, which consisted of building a superhetrodyne radio. One day near the completion of the project I picked up my radio by the chassis and, not having pulled the plug, found myself and my chair flying across the room when my fingers crossed the primary coil.

The second half of the school introduced us to the torpedoes we would be using in the fleet. Our class was taught the Mark 27, Mark 14-3A and Mod. 5, the Mark 16, and the Mark 37 Mods O and 1. All the torpedoes except the Mark 37’s were WW II vintage.The Mark 27 had four hydrophones and lead acid batteries. It would be out of service in about 18 months. The Mark 14-3A, a steam torpedo, was already obsolete, but was the basis for the Mod 5. That training would come in handy years later, when I was on the Robert E. Lee. The Mark 16 was a Navol torpedo and rather dangerous to have aboard. Many captains refused to use it. The Mark 37’s were homing torpedoes, the Mod 1 being wire-guided.

I graduated high enough to earn a promotion, but accepting it would have required an additional year’s service. I did not accept it.

While going to school we also had to stand watches. I was fortunate to often be named a supernumerary — an extra person and not needed for the watch bill. We stood watches on the gate on the weekends, barracks watches, swimming pool watch (after someone had defecated in it the night before it was to be opened to the forces), and dumpster watches. Why the Navy insisted we guard its garbage containers, I’ll never know.

Today the base is different from when I was stationed there. You can see that it is filled with structures, most of which were built after 1964. The ones I remembered are no longer there. Only the swimming pool is recognizable. Oh, well, nothing stays the same — except the memories.

Fleet ASW School, San Diego Google Earth view

Posted in FLASWSCHL SDIEGO, Navy, San Diego, school, torpedoes, torpedoman | Leave a Comment »