SatCom School – San Deigo, Ca.

I re-enlisted for six years while I was in Guam. Aside from the re-enlistment bonus I got ($16,000 over six years … minus taxes) I also received more Navy ‘C’ School training at NTSC San Diego on the ‘CUDIXS’ satellite communications system. I knew it was going to be an interesting experience right from day one.

San Diego, Ca 5a

Secondary gates into the training center.

During roll call on our first day of class, as the instructor, an E-6, was checking off the names, he called out, “Drill?”

Everybody got a WTF? look on their face when he said that, but no one answered. After a few seconds he called out “Drill,” again, but there was still no answer, just a lot more questioning looks. Finally, after the instructor called out “Drill,” for a third time, one guy said, “Do you mean Drye?”

Most of us started laughing as the instructor checked his list again and said, “Oh, right. Drye. Sorry, I misread that.” but George wasn’t about to let that go.

“What do you mean, you misread it?” George said. “It’s Drye. D-R-Y-E. Drye. How the hell do you get Drill out of that? Is your list handwritten in cursive or something?”

He had a nice little diatribe that went on for about a minute and a half or so, with other comments about how he’d had his name mispronounced before, but no one had ever called him Drill until that day, and several other choice words.

By that time all of us were laughing pretty hard and it was too late for George to do anything about it. He was Drill from that day on, and it took almost no provocation to get him going on that rant for the next six months.

I knew right away that I was going to like this guy, and even though they spit us up after the first two classes (some went on to the the shipboard version of the system while others of us went to the shore based one) we still hung out together after hours sometimes. One of the guys, Greg, I think, had a sailing license, so a bunch of us rented a sailboat a couple of times and sailed down to Black’s Beach once and out to Catalina another time.

During testing periods, when only the testee was allowed in the classroom to work on a physical problem, the rest of us spent a lot of time in the lounge doing crossword puzzles and playing hangman. (I used to have an entire three-ring notebook filled with hangman puzzles).

There were five of us in the shore-based class that hung out together quite a lot. Me, Dave, Wayne, Ray and Bill. I’m not going to give their last names here, partly because I don’t remember all of them and partly because they aren’t really relevant here, (unlike George’s story). We went out on the town ocaasionally, downtown a few times, but mostly we hung out at a place called the Whirlybird Inn (more on that in another story).

One of the times we went downtown wasn’t to go drinking . . . we went to a movie theater to see ‘The Amityville Horror’ when it came out. We jumped in the appropriate places and whispered the usual comments such as, “Jeeze, I’d have been out of there ten seconds after the first ghostly groan/vision/flying object/etc.” and pretended not to be scared when we really were. It was a pretty creepy movie at the time. 😉

The comments continued, of course, after the show and we stopped at a small diner to get something to eat. I don’t remember what the other guys ordered, but I was in the mood for some chili and rice, and while we were waiting for the order and joking around with the waitress (it was pretty late and there weren’t any other customers) we all noticed a guy with a white apron running across the street toward a late night grocery store. One of the other guys – Dave, maybe – said, “I wonder what he’s doing?”

Just kidding around, said, “He’s probably going to get a can of Hormel Chili.” which drew a couple of short laughs from the others, until we looked to see if the waitress also thought it was funny. Instead of laughing, though, she had a slightly embarrassed look on her face and was blushing a little. We all realized at the same time that that’s what he really was doing and we started laughing for real.

She got over it pretty quickly when she saw that none of us were going to make any sort of deal out of it. Hell, I thought it was hilarious, and it pretty much took our minds off the movie, which we’d been discussing with the young lady before that. The other waitress that was still working then came over and joined the conversation after that and we had a pretty good time for a night that we didn’t go out to hit the bars. 🙂


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R. S. Leergaard

US Navy veteran and writer of stories. Blogger of things.

2 thoughts on “SatCom School – San Deigo, Ca.”

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