It was May 1945, having just graduated from high school and 17 years of age, I made a decision that forever would change my future and my lifetime career.
The United States was still at war, and I had a choice to either continue to work in the vegetable fields with my dad and relatives, wait to be drafted into the service, or volunteer for the service. To the disappointment of my parents, I chose to enlist in the U.S. Navy.
My naval career was an exciting time in my life. After boot camp, I was accepted in the Electricians Mate School to learn all about electrical systems aboard Navy ships. Subsequently I was assigned to help finish electrical work aboard a new type of Navy Destroyer, the USS Holder DD819, that was shortly to be put into commission.
I spent 27 months at sea on the USS Holder in the Caribbean, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic and the Red Sea. We were part of the first European Naval Occupational forces. During this time, I was involved in solving many shipboard electrical malfunctions, both above and below deck. I also was totally responsibile for the main switchboard in the aft engine room.
Returning home after three years of service, decision time was upon me again. Was I to take up the “field” work along with the rest of the family and enter into a technical or professional career? After four months of delaying and debating, I kept going back to the thought of continuing my electrical work which I had learned and enjoyed while in the Navy. My next decision was, should I go to a technical school or should I try a more difficult path and go to a university and get a degree in electrical engineering?
I decided to go for the degree and in January 1949, I entered the college of engineering at Marquette University and it was at this time that I started to realize and I became thankful for what I had learned in the service about the electrical field. In May 1952, I graduated from Marquette University with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. I was recruited by Westinghouse Electric, served in various training programs and eventually transferred to the small motor division. I spent the next 34 years at Westinghouse from a manufacturing engineer to division manager of manufacturing planning implementting numerous manufactuing innovations along with several new plant start-ups. The small motor division was sold to A.O. Smith Electrical Products Co. in 1986 where I became vice president of engineering and strategic programs for both domestic and foreign plants. New electric motor designs along with new manufacturing techniques were implemented during my tenure.
After my retirement, I went into consulting business, serving the electrical related industry both in the United States and overseas.
Did the Navy teach me skills that I was able to apply in my working career? Absolutely!