Monday, June 12, 2006

August 17, 1954

Life at the Pensacola Naval Air Base begins officially at 5:30 a.m. At that time reveille sounds. At 5:32, everyone must report to the "quarterdeck," the main hall of the building. At that time, you must be dressed, shaved, and had your bed made and room cleaned. As you may guess, this is a trifle difficult. Therefore, everyone gets up at 5:00. Now, as there are almost no alarm clocks, and no way of being awakened, I keep waking up every ten minutes, wondering if it’s 5:00 yet. It isn’t.

After climbing out of bed, washing, making up your bed, and the various & sundry other duties, reveille is sounded by a trumpeter whose closest acquaintance with a musical instrument must have been when he played second triangle in his kindergarten rhythm band. At 5:32 you are informed by the P.A. system that you have exactly twenty seconds to report to the "quarterdeck". Twenty-one seconds and you must go back and try again.

We (myself and two others from Chicago) reported to Pensacola at "2144" (9:44) last night. My first impressions of Florida were (1) it’s hot, (2) a sign on a Pensacola city bus: "WHITE seat from front to rear of coach. COLORED seat from rear to front of coach."

The base at Pensacola is huge—we’re so far from the airstrip (there are four or five scattered around) that we very seldom hear the planes. About forty other cadets came in the same night.
The old army adage of "hurry up & wait" certainly is applicable to the Navy Air corps. You don’t walk; you run—and when you’re not running, you’re marching.

The morning began with calisthenics—about fifteen minutes of deep-knee bends and other amusing little exercises, to get the day off to a good start. After calisthenics, we marched back to the dorm (all the buildings, by the way, have numbers—Navcad Induction was 624), located just across the street from the hanger in front of which we went through our ritual. The sun was out in full force, and everyone had miniature Mississippi’s coursing their ways down our faces, necks, bodies, and even running slowly down the inside of our legs. The heat was so great that my watch crystal fogged and the watch stopped soon after. I noticed this morning that it is running again, but will not wind.

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