My friend Steve Tindall is a U.S. Navy veteran, and a fellow author. In addition to being very active with Veteran’s causes and events, Steve writes about his experiences during his naval career. At six foot, five inches tall, Steve bumped up against some unique challenges on board ship. (A problem I never had, I assure you)
Steve has shared one of his humorous stories with us. I believe you will get a chuckle out of Being Tall.
I’ve been encouraged by my friend and fellow veteran author Joe Campolo Jr. to write more about the time I spent in the Navy to augment my book. And so, here is more information about the interesting things my height introduced into my time in service.
In my book I talk about some of the issues surrounding being somewhat oversized for destroyers. I was 6’ 5” tall with BIG feet so things which were normal for most people ended up being a challenge for me. But not all of my challenges were aboard ship.
During “C” school on the Mark 37 Gun Fire Control System we were inspected every morning of class. One of my instructors was a very short (by anyone’s standards, not just mine!) Chief Petty Officer. I had just purchased a new “Dixie Cup” style hat and had stored it overnight with the edges rolled up to give it the right look. (See picture above)
Or so I thought. While it had the right curved over appearance top to bottom it looked more like a box someone sat on from side to side. It had four distinct corners to it which were NOT equally distant from each other. On my head I couldn’t tell how bad it looked but the Chief sure could.
I’m standing at attention which means you look straight ahead and don’t move your head around at all. So, when the Chief gets to me, I can’t see him at all. I just hear this “Where did you get that hat?” coming from somewhere. I didn’t move so I hear the same line issued again, a little bit more forcefully this time. I still didn’t move so the third time it came out much louder: “Where did you get that #^#$%^# hat!” I chanced a look to my left, then to my right, and then straight down where I discovered a very angry man staring up at me. My having to look down on him didn’t help his mood. I explained briefly my hat was new which didn’t mollify him at all and he proceeded to explain to me in VERY colorful language my hat was a disgrace and if caught in one like that again I would be sent to the fleet as a professional deck swabber and not a Fire Control Technician! The next day my hat was squared away and no further comments were necessary.
I managed to complete “C” school successfully and reported to my first ship. After I checked in, I was escorted down to our berthing compartment to unpack. Several of my new fellow FT’s gathered around to find out more about the new guy. It was when I pulled out my boon dockers (steel toed half boots) the space suddenly got quiet. I thought I had done something wrong when one of them said: “I see you brought the new life boats with you!” We all had a good laugh and passed around our new vessels and I was frequently reminded of the incident during my time aboard to another round of laughter.
Steve Tindall was born in the small town of Amboy, NY, just a little West of Syracuse. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy, where he learned electronics, security, and how to make his bed properly. He served on two destroyers and spent the final two years of his nine-year enlistment instructing at the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL. He transitioned to the data networking field, specializing in capacity analysis and protocol interpretation. He wrote several work-related articles for various publications including a two-year stint as the editor of a satirical monthly newsletter designed to improve morale at work. He retired on April Fool’s Day in 2016 and spends his time improving veterans lives and educating the public about our military history.