NTC Great Lakes 1944 Company 1770 Group Photograph
Group Photo, 1944 Company 1770 | GGA Image ID # 100475dc38
Company 1770 R. H. Nelson SP(A)2 Company Commander
The photograph was taken 28 September 1944 at the U. S. Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois.
I was seventeen - World War II was going full force, and males had to register for the military draft. A draft number was assigned, and this number was used for the call-up selection procedure.
When called, the assignment was made first to the Army, and if their needs were met, then the other branches of the service would get the men they needed.
For some reason, the Navy appealed to me more than the Army did, and therefore I explored the possibility of enlistment. By enlisting, one could also select the area of service desired- and in my case since I couldn't see myself at the end of a gun shooting at someone else, I decided to enlist in the Navy in the Medical Branch - at least I felt that there I might be able to do some good rather than destruction.
Because of some experience as a hospital orderly, I was able to enter the Navy with some rank- HA2c-, which was one step up from the basic recruit known as an Able Seaman. I enlisted the 1st of July in 1944 about 2 months before my 18th birthday, and by September, I was on my way to basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Station just north of Chicago.
The "Boot Camp" basic training was for 16 weeks and consisted mainly of indoctrination studies of Naval History, seamanship, working as a team, fire fighting, lots of calisthenics, lots of guard duty. Many are the time we were roused at 2 AM to fall out on the parade grounds for an hour of exercise, just plain marching or drill.
Our first pay in the Navy was a $5.00 bill. It was called the "Flying Five." We all stood in line and upon reaching the paymaster we were handed a $5.00 bill; moved ahead a few feet and someone grabbed the $5.00 and presented you a bag and a $2.00 bill in change.
The bag contained essential personal items such as toothbrush and paste, a shoeshine kit, etc. I still have the $2.00 bill, which was autographed by many of the fellows in my company.
Following Boot Camp, we had a leave to go home for about 10 days and then returned to Great Lakes to await our "orders." Our company was split up, some going to sea duty, some, like me, were assigned to service schools. I was sent to San Diego, California to Pharmacist Mate School.
Excerpt from "I Remember When..." by Lawrence K. Gjenvick © 2015