February 7, 2011
Q&A with the class of 1961's Wally Linder and his four years in the United States Navy
Why did you enlist and how long did you serve:
I enlisted in the Navy February 17, 1963 for four years. The original enlistment was for three years, but when we reported to Whitehall Street (NYC), we were informed that all enlistments were now four years. We had all signed paperwork for three years. We were told that we could leave and go home if we didn't want to do the four years. Of course we had all said goodbye to family and loved ones, and it would have been very difficult to go home. Two people out of 50 went home. This all happened very suddenly, because the Viet Nam war drums were beating quietly in the background.
I enlisted because the Cuban Missile crisis had just happened, and I took JFK's advice and "did something for my country". I also thought the service would be a great place to acquire skills. The Navy sent me to avionics and electronics schools in Millington, Tennessee. Then I went to advanced school on Instrument Flight Trainers. I had to fix and train on 2F23 flight simulators.
I was in schools for over a year, eight hours a day, every day. The classes were outside Memphis, in buildings which were not air conditioned. The barracks were not air conditioned. I had no electronics background, and I was a 19-year old kid scared to death. If you failed out you were sent to Carrier Deck Duty, which had a very high mortality rate.
Any interesting ports:
After my schooling, I received orders to report to The Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut. Everyone else in my class went to Naval Air stations or carriers. I was in the air-wing and had green stripes on my arm, and no one could understand why I was going to The Submarine School. It turns out that there was a Submarine Simulator, which was huge and took up most of the inside of a building (hidden and very classified). I worked there for awhile, and then went back to school to learn how to repair motion picture projectors.
I spent the rest of my Navy experience repairing motion picture projectors, tape recorders, and overhead projectors for The Submarine School, in Groton, Connecticut -115 miles from Levittown. I think God has always watched over me.
Anything else you might like to add, for example did you use the GI Bill for college:
Yes I did. I got married in 1968, and started Nassau Community in 1969. I worked full time during the day, and went full time at night (through the summers). I had two children, bought a house and graduated from Hofstra University in 1973. The GI bill paid for my college education.