My Harvard College and Yale— A young man’s learning curve at sea.
A year to the day after enlisting in the U.S. Navy, I flew from my native San Francisco to Philadelphia to report for duty on board the USS Leary (DD-879), then in the shipyard undergoing a fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) conversion. The return to the East Coast after a two-week leave meant Norfolk would be homeport for the remainder of my enlistment, three years and a wakeup.
The Atlantic and Mediterranean—especially the Med—beckoned to a landbound sailor weary of the classroom, eager to put to sea. The watery parts of the world would have to wait a little longer for this bluejacket though, since the Leary sat in drydock, looking worse for 19 years of wear. She was a ship in name only, welding lines everywhere, debris strewn bow to stern, and looking as disheveled and forbidding as the hardcore lifer manning the quarterdeck as petty officer of the watch.