"I have had one of the most fantastic lives you can imagine. I was a poor kid, the youngest of 8, and only had a 7th grade education. I went to work at the age of 11 for 10 cents an hour at a saw mill, doing everything including cutting saw timber with a cross cut saw. I learned to drive on a 1 1/2 ton truck hauling pulp wood. I helped my father build a house at age 14 and got my drivers license at the same time. I knew I wasn't going any where with no education so I made plans to get an education.
I entered the Navy at age 17, boot camp at Great Lakes Company 99 finishing in Nov. 1947. On a troop train I went to San Francisco YBI; from there on board USS Nereus AS-17to San Diego; then train to Seattle and ferry to Bremerton arriving on Dec. 22, 1947. Went aboard USS Richard B. Anderson (DD-786) and remained on her until Feb. 1, 1952; then as Radioman 3rd class was transferred to LSSL Ferry Group # 6 in Tongue Point Oregon. While on the Anderson we did three tours in Korea during that conflict and we sunk a Russian Submarine in the Chine straits in 1951. Also in March 1950 we went to Saigon, Vietnam to offer America's help to the French and I was wounded while there. I had to hand deliver a message from my ships Captian to the French Commandant that a Viet Minh mortar shell blew the road from under my vehicle and broke 4 of my ribs.
While on LSSL 105, we were to ferry these LSSL's to Japan. I was the Radioman, Electronics Technician, Radarman, Sonarman and Quartermaster Signalman on LSSL 105. We made it to Long Beach and one of the ships broke down. I received my shore duty orders while there in April 1952. At that time my parents were in Pine Bluff Arkansas doing some cabinet work and I stopped there on my way to Virginia shore duty. I had been corresponding with a girl in El Dorado Arkansas for 9 months and went to see her on Friday, April 18th, 1952. At about 9 p.m. I laid eyes on her for the first time (I had pictures of her though). We were together all day Saturday until late at night, and went to church together on Sunday. After church we came back to her house and while her mother was getting dinner on the table I asked her to marry me and she said yes. I went on to Norfolk Virginia and she came to Roanoke Virginia with my parents in June and we were married July 5, 1952 in Roanoke Virginia. That was 55 years ago and we are still very happily married.
After 32 months shore duty I was transferred to USS Savage DER-386 in dry docks, Boston, Mass. I went on board on January 4, 1955. Although there was an RMC and a RM1 on board, they put me in charge of the Radio Operations as a RM2. I served on board the Savage until July 27, 1956 and was discharged.
I joined the Air Force as S/Sgt on October 16, 1956 and went to Spangdahlem Germany where I was in charge of all ground Radio Operations, the MARS station and the Amatuer Radio Club, and also I was in charge of the Base Defense Team with 27 men under me. I was the only man with war time experience. I was offered 2nd LT but declined it because I would have had to take a pay cut, and I had a wife and three kids to feed and clothe. My wife was there with me and we lived on base. We came back to the States in December 1959, stationed at Richards Gebaus AFB, Grandview, Missouri. That is where I broke into computers. Transferred to Keesler AFB Mississippi in 1962 and Stead AFB, Reno, Nevada in 1953, and Luke AFB Phoenix, Arizona in 1965. I retired there Dec 1, 1967. From there I went to the NASA Research Center. I worked there from Feb. 18, 1968 until the end of March 1972. That was the most interesting duty I ever had. By the way, as I said, I was a kid with no education. I remedied that by attending University of MD, College Park, then University of Nebraska, and after that University of Wisconsin graduating in 1959 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.
Today I live in Arkansas, but prior to coming here I spent four plus years with the NASA Research Center in charge of all their computers. It was my computers that were used to develope the spacecraft that is still in use building the space lab and station. Also the command module and lunar excursion module which were used to put the first two men on the moon, which occurred on my birthday July 20, 1969. Upon leaving the space center, I was asked to take over the Houston space center, but I declined."