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Jay Craig

Jay Craig

  • Service Branch: United States Navy
  • Service Dates: 1963–1966
  • Stationed: stationed at

I enlisted in the Navy in March 1963 and was honorably discharged in November 1966.

I remember taking a physical for service with hundreds of other military inductees and enlisted personnel. We were in a large hanger type building and medical personnel were examining each individual and using chalk, marking areas of one’s anatomy wherein a problem may arise. I did not receive any chalk marks, but the guy next to me had a chalk mark circle around his head. I have no clue what that meant. Enlisting in the Navy was important to me at the time because I was considered 1-A for the draft meaning I was available for military service. I wanted to choose the military service to join instead of being drafted into the Army.

Before I knew it, I was at Great Lakes, Illinois for boot camp. Basic training was great because the military made me a squad leader, and I did not get yelled at as much. Being from an urban environment, I never learned how to swim. I was forced to jump off of a 10 meter platform, and I ended up at the bottom of the pool and had to be fished out by grabbing onto a pole the swimming instructor used for that purpose. I eventually learned how to swim and completed basic training requirements.

Off to the real Navy I went, designated as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate. My responsibilities included the movement of Navy aircraft and rescue duties. While based on land duty, I was responsible for rescuing pilots who crashed their aircraft. I had to attempt one rescue, but the pilot survived the crash without my assistance.

During sea duty, I was assigned to the USS Forrestal and took a Mediterranean cruise on the ship. We had 4000 sailors on board, and I was assigned duties as a Green Shirt. Everyone on board had specific duties identified by the color of shirt they wore. My job was to handle all required duties with moving an A4 Skyhawk around on the hanger and flight decks.

Being a wanderer in civilian life with one dead-end job after another, the military was great for me, and I did not miss being a civilian. During the Mediterranean cruise we visited many ports, and I witnessed beautiful places in Europe that I would not have been able to see as a civilian.

With any adventure you are involved with, there are dangerous things that may arise and being on an aircraft carrier was no exception. During our Mediterranean cruise we lost four sailors at sea. This is the cost of maintaining a strong military force and participating in dangerous activities on a carrier flight deck.

My fondest memories of military duty occurred when carrier flight deck activities were stopped, and I could lay down on my back on the flight deck at 3 a.m. and look up at the stars.

After being discharged from active duty, I was designated for inactive reserve status and returned to civilian life with fond memories of military life and the friends I met while serving in the military.

My wife Dee and I have been living in Londonderry since August 2022, and we enjoy all that Londonderry has to offer.

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