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Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down

Chapter One (01)

Life Before West Point

Perhaps my first memory was as a four-year old sailor
with my mother, year younger sister and baby brother at the
submarine dock on a foggy early morning welcoming my Navy
father home after coming off a year long assignment in the
Pacific. My father had just completed another war patrol,
this time during the Korean War.

My father's sub during the Korean War

My father the Navy Chief

Though he’d been at sea
most of my young life, right away I knew it was my duty as
his little sailor boy to salute the war hero Navy Chief when
he approached us. My sister didn’t recognize the stranger
with the craggy beard swooping her up in his arms and in
unison chorus with my baby brother began crying like the
three year old baby girl she was. But as the little sailor 
man, I knew I needed to be the brave one, so I stood there
at attention still saluting as my father took turns happily
embracing all of us. It was a grand homecoming, like a
second Christmas for all of us as my dad brought back many
exotic gifts from the Orient he had picked up while in
Japanese port. I guess from the very start I grew up in awe

of my warrior dad.
As an old school military man who spent the prime of
his life serving his nation on subs for twenty years, he was
always strict and very punitive. His entire life was strife-
ridden, from his earliest formative years in Massachusetts
hearing about his Armenian relatives and fellow countrymen
back in the old country being slaughtered by the thousands
(a million and a half murdered by the time he turned five),
to his mother dying of cancer when he was a high school
freshman, to being a high school dropout on the bum as a
teenage hobo with his older brother during the height of the
Great Depression, to being in harms way during thirteen war
patrols on submarines throughout the Second World War and
Korean War, to being the sole provider marrying into a
ready-made family of four stepchildren from my mother’s
previous marriage and raising an eventual family of nine
As a mechanical genius, my father had been in charge of
the engine room on diesel-powered subs for many years. If
and when anything went wrong, Jake the Chief Petty Officer
was always ever at-the-ready to rectify whatever problem.
His one hundred twenty-five shipmates constantly relied on
him for getting them out of many tough jams. He had spent
his entire naval career in the Pacific and met his wife
while still in the Navy. True love during pre-interstate era
was driving from his San Diego port nearly 600 miles north
all the way up to Sacramento, California every weekend to
spend a few hours with his love and her four young kids and
then turn around and head back to San Diego. Eventually he
was stationed closer at Mare Island Naval Base in Vallejo in
northern California. He and my mother were soon engaged, in
premarital lovemaking to conceive me in the early summer of
1949. When my mother learned she was pregnant, she realized
her already filed divorce papers from her first husband
would not be final in time for my March arrival, so a
quickie divorce and quickie wedding were arranged in
September in Carson City, Nevada.

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