Vietnam was still going strong and I had decided that I wanted to go there and do my part. In June I decided I wanted to join the military and serve my country in Vietnam, and after some investigation, decided to join the U.S. Navy Seabees. They only took people that had at least two years of construction experience, so I had to have some letters of reference etc; but was ultimately accepted. I was 18 at the time and the recruiter told me I was the youngest inductee to the Seabees since WWII.
I remember standing in the induction center in downtown Oklahoma City the morning I was scheduled to leave. They were calling out the names of other inductees…..Smith, U.S.M.C. Plane Ticket to San Diego! Jones, U.S. Navy Plane Ticket to Michigan…..Davidson, U.S. Seabees Bus Ticket to Gulfport, Mississippi….(what)? I got on a Greyhound bus and spent the next three days traveling to Gulfport. I had shoulder length bleach blonde hair which was an experience while traveling through the South in 1970. When I arrived in Gulfport, it was a Friday night and by the time I got checked in the next day, the barber shop was closed, so I got to spend the next 3 days marching with the rest of the platoon in my “greens” with shoulder length hair. The Drill Instructor was a crusty Marine Gunnery Sergeant, and called me Hippie Girl all weekend. Since I had ROTC for two years at Guthrie I had a bit of a step up regarding some of the treatment and experiences that the Marine “Gunnies’” were dishing out. While I had some experience in shining shoes and had spent some time with the ROTC drill team, I knew some of the weapon moves, weapon stripping, loading etc; but this didn’t impress the Gunny, he usually gave me guard duty at every chance, but made me a squad leader in a short time. Since the Seabees are a division of the Navy like the Marine Corps, all of our uniforms, trainers, and equipment were Marine issue type. When we graduated boot camp we were immediate E4s or Third Class Petty Officers, and had an Eagle with a Chevron on our hats and lapels. After boot camp we went to Camp LeJune, N.C. for Vietnamese training. The funny thing was we went there in February, and most of the time froze our butts off in the woods, using our C-rat heaters to try to stay warm under our ponchos. We went into a mess hall one night to try to get a late meal and the Onion Heads (that’s what we called Marine Boots) thought we were officers because we had Eagles on our hats and lapels so they started saluting us and jumping through hoops to get us something to eat. Just before we ate a Marine “Gunny” walked in and asked what the x!%* was going on. When the boots explained they were feeding us “officers” the Gunny yelled, these aren’t officers!! They’re a bunch of Sh%t eating Seabees!! Get the hell out of my mess hall!!! Needless to say, we scattered and went to bed hungry that night. We went back to Gulfport after a couple of months of training and continue our training there. This was shortly after Hurricane Camille, so there was still a lot of damage on the Gulf coast, and we spent some time working on rebuilding the coast. Our outfit MCB62 had just returned from their second straight tour in Nam so we had six months of down time before our next deployment. We would spend the weekdays doing training on weapons and new construction techniques, and the weekends prowling the clubs at Keesler Air Force Base in nearby Biloxi or the local ones in Gulfport. It was during one of these jaunts that I met Sheila Gallant. Six months later we got orders to mount out to Camp Moscrip in Puerto Rico. Camp Moscrip was a 24 hour mount out readiment base for Vietnam. We trained there to be able to prepare our equipment and weapons and be able to mount out for Vietnam in 24 hours. About two weeks before we mounted out I married Sheila Gallant. She was 26 and had two kids, Tracey and Mark. I think since I was somewhat mature for my age, the idea of marrying someone older that had kids didn’t really faze me, but I am sure that my folks thought I was nuts. I deployed with the unit shortly thereafter. Our unit was on a short list due to the time in Nam thus we received an early out after a year and a half. When I returned to Gulfport I worked in construction for a short while then got a job with Mississippi Power and Light building a 35 story super structure for a power plant in Biloxi. I worked there for six months as a construction engineer representing the power company. Sometime in October I was talking to my dad in Oklahoma, and he and John were getting ready to go on a ten day hunting trip in Colorado, and asked if I was interested in coming home and joining the family business. We packed up a U-Haul a week later and headed north for Oklahoma. We bought a house on SE 22nd in Del City and I went to work in the family pool business.