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“My Days In The U.S. Navy” – Viking View by John Douglass, LCS Alumni & Archivist

Lakeland Christian School

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Lakeland Christian School

One of the core values of LCS is the belief that we are partnering with parents in the Christian education of their children. We believe that mutual respect, communication and involvement by all partners is essential for success of our mission.LCS is a school. We believe that being a Christian school and being a top-flight academic institution should not be mutually exclusive. On the contrary, we take the mandate of Colossians 3:23 that calls us to strive to be the best. We provide a variety of rigorous, engaging, academic and co-curricular activities that enable students to identify and express the full range of their unique gifts and abilities.

Part 2 of 3– My days in the U.S. Navy

(Part 1- blog can be read here: john-douglass-shares-his-veteran-experiences  Part 3 to follow later this year)

During April 2018, The Ledger ran a supplement entitled “Vietnam – Those Who Served.” The writer began by saying, “Understanding the Vietnam War is an almost insurmountable task, but let’s look at one key fact that many people do not know: The majority of military personnel played support roles.’’ This would certainly describe my four years of service in the US Navy.

Following graduation from college in June 1969, I enlisted in the navy. My draft number was low so I knew I would be drafted. After being sworn in, I reported to boot camp in January 1970. From there I attended school in Pensacola, Florida, for ten weeks and then received orders to the National Security Agency (NSA) at Ft. Meade, Maryland. I spent the next two years gathering special intelligence data as a CTA (Cryptologic Technician- Administration). It was those two years at the NSA that God used to prepare me for my next assignment.

I vividly remember waiting for my security clearance and thinking, “not one soul knows me for hundreds of miles…at last, I am free to do as I please.” Immediately the Holy Spirit reminded me that I was His child, and He was there with me.   Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” That week a young civilian invited me to a Navigator Bible study and Christian fellowship became a priority. The years at NSA were a time of commitment and growth.

As I approached my two year anniversary at the NSA I anxiously awaited orders to my next assignment. I selfishly asked the Lord to allow me to see some of the world, never imagining that this might involve duty on a ship. I knew something was up when my contact at the Bureau of Naval Personnel asked me if I was sitting down before sharing my next assignment to the USS Ranger (CVA-61). Upon finishing boot camp I had been told I would never be on a ship so these orders were a complete surprise.

Serving on an attack carrier was a totally new environment to me.   I had no sooner arrived in Alameda, California, than a young man, not wanting to go to Vietnam, sabotaged the ship’s propulsion system, forcing us back into the shipyards for four months of repairs. I needed this time to learn my responsibilities since I was the only person in my rate on the ship.

I soon discovered that my clearance required me to deal with classified information that only the ship’s captain and our division lieutenant had. I knew my job required me to get into a safe and provide the support they needed when called upon. Fortunately, that only happened in a couple of instances.