Navy man Steve Wood
In August 1954 at the age of 18, I enlisted in the United States Navy and went to boot camp at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, California.
After grading from boot camp, I was sent to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard assigned to the USS Boxer CVA 21. She was in dry dock being overhauled. Boxer was a World War II aircraft carrier with a straight, wooden flight deck. She was commissioned in 1945 and saw a lot of action during the Korean conflict.
She was so huge that I only knew where my bunk, head, chow hall and after quarterdeck were when we went on liberty. After refitting, we loaded our aircraft at Alameda Naval Air Station, and then we got up steam and set sail into the open sea.
The first port of call was Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. We saluted the USS Arizona as we passed on our way to berthing. After training our air group, we set sail for the West Pacific. On station off North Korea, we home ported at Yokosuka, Japan, and other ports of call were Sasebo, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Subic Bay, Philippines, Manila, Philippines, and Agana, Guam. We took the anchor out in Buckner Bay, Okinawa after being deployed in the West Pacific for a year, and we returned to the states.
My next ship was the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA 42d, which was in dry dock in Bremerton, Washington being fitted with the angle flight deck. She was too wide for the locks at Panama Canal, so we sailed her around the South American continent. Our captain had all hands muster on the flight deck to view Tierra Del Forego, the most southern point of South America. What a sight to see.
When we crossed the equator July 2, 1956, I went from a pollywog to a horned shellback. What an honor. There were ports of call at Balboa, Panama, Valparaiso, Chile, around the horn to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Port Au Prince, Haiti, to home port May Port, Florida, and we were also stationed at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.
I was honorably discharged after 3 years, 10 months, and 23 days. After being out for 14 years, I reenlisted in the U.S. Navy Seabees as a second class builder, E-5 and had duty at NAS Bermuda, Panama Canal Zone, and Barking Sands Naval Station in Kawai, Hawaii. At CONUS, I was in Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28, NMCB17 NMCB 16 NMCB 2. I was honorably discharged from U.S. Naval Reserves in August 1994 as a First Class Builder E6.
I want to thank my wife of 59 years, Ruby, for the support given during my naval career.
Ribbons earned: National Defense, Navy Good Conduct, Korean Service, Armed forces Reserve, Naval Reserve, and Navy Expert Pistol. Plank Owner USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA. 42 Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist.