Here you can browse everything I am doing related to the extraordinary adventure that was my service in the United States Navy.
Returning visitor? Skip to my blog and see what I’ve uploaded here and at Youtube:
If you’re thinking about joining the Navy, this could be one of the best places to research your decision.
Technology changes and you may choose a different assignment than I did. But since I became a Navy Personnel Manager, I maintained the files on everybody. I kept a journal highlighting my daily encounters with navy personnel during the work-ups to Operation Desert Storm. My book, Military Secret, found a spot in the libraries at the United States Navy Academy and the Naval War College. But I could not have published, if I had stayed in the Navy. Getting out was no small sacrifice, either, because for all the bullshit I truly loved the Navy and I heartily recommend that you join.
See the world, serve your country, take risks, and perhaps become a hero.
I did. I got five medals and combat pay to prove it. I served in one of the greatest military victories in modern history. But I threw my dress blues uniform in a Venice Beach trash dumpster and even gave up orders, already signed by authorities, that would have stationed me at Pensacola Florida for Recruiter Training, then two years as a Navy recruiter in Honolulu.
It would have been a great gig, but I would have had to keep my Gulf War Story to myself.
Unless you happen to be lucky enough to attend one of the above mentioned colleges or universities, or perhaps if you stumbled into a liberal bookstore in the Castro District of San Francisco or wandered into A Different Light bookstore on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, or a similar bookstore in Washington D.C. during the early 1990s, I’d say there is not much of a chance that you will ever read Military Secret. After I left the Navy to publish it, after I got it published by a legitimate and significant liberal publisher who eventually listed me in Writer’s Market books from 1994 all the way to around 1998, I insisted that they take it out of print.
Military Secret was a clumsy, if important book for its time. I had written the first three chapters while living in a bungalow at Mission Beach, one of the wildest, craziest party spots of San Diego, among the beach bars lined with bikers in the shadow of the Giant Dipper roller coaster that had just reopened after having been closed for years due to a death by accident. There I met Louie the homeless Vietnam War vet who was selling the hallucinogenic drug LSD by the dozen — and soon sleeping weekends on my couch. And my roommate “That Guy” drove a souped up Mustang. We both owned guns.
When my car got ripped off by smugglers, I found a notary public’s business card under the seat along with documents of two boys from Latin America. I had to get to work so I immediately bought a new car on my good Navy credit.
It turned up a few weeks later and I sold it cheap to That Guy. But it got stolen again. This time Louie joined me on a mission to get it back. I took my 44 and Louie took That Guy’s 25.
That night I destroyed my brand new car. I rolled it on Interstate Five. The crash blew out the passenger window and all four tires. I suffered only minor injuries, and got some really good pain killers that almost got me addicted. The good reason that car turned up again, in real good shape, is in my book in vivid detail. Just one more Navy adventure.
The publishers were mad at me, too, after I got married in 1993.
They had categorized my book under homosexuality, because I wrote about that. But I saw myself as just like any other man, only, more so.
I will admit I was a sucker for a pretty face.
But there were many opportunities on board USS RANGER as I managed the Mess Decks of the forward galley. It was like if I walked off the deck to the starboard side I could find myself in a cubby hole getting an offer I couldn’t refuse, just by tapping my foot while I sat on a toilet. But if I walked off the deck to the port side I could get thrown overboard by some thugs who saw life differently. Indeed, these guys jumped me at my Mission Beach apartment, breaking a chair over my face, breaking my front tooth. And when I told the Legal Officer it was me whom they investigated, not those thugs. Karma caught up with them later and they got kicked out of the service for lying to an officer, over an unrelated issue. So they missed the Gulf War.
Now living in Europe, I have retired from a teaching career that included three public German high schools and the University of Cologne.
I came to Germany in 1993, directly from Hollywood where I had gone back to after I left the Navy two weeks shy of a four-year enlistment. My last boss was the brother of Melanie Griffith, and the son of Tippi Hedren (the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror movie, “The Birds”). Ironically, Tippi had become a star through her acting in a TV commercial for a product my own father had invented, the diet drink Sego. You can verify that independently if you’re so inclined.
If you get a feeling what you are reading is just the tip of an interesting iceberg, you may be right.
Now I find the time to pull those videos out of the closet, which you are already able to see on my Youtube channel, and to dig out my box full of audio tapes I recorded on the ship. I wired for sound the Personnel Department cubby hole on board USS RANGER, which we shared with the Administration Department. In the months leading up to Desert Storm I purchased two Sony ECM-55B lavaliere microphones, at $200 a piece, and hooked them up to a Tascam Porta-04 multi-track cassette recorder that I had been using as a singer-songwriter in Hollywood before I joined the Navy. I wired one mike to the cheap little TV in the Personnel side of the shop, and wired the other to our 1MC, the loudspeaker up on the wall near the ceiling that every space had on board the ship. I recorded 32 tapes, of some 90 minutes each, during the six-month deployment that turned into Operation Desert Storm.
Of course, USS RANGER had her own TV studio, KRAN, and I got to know those guys and they schooled me on Naval Regulations with regard to privacy and copyright. So I found out, through several inches of bureaucracy, that I could make all the videos I wanted on board the ship or underway. Since everyone was on contract to the government, I could record them without having to pay or get permissions. Not everyone liked that idea, so I put my request in two ways. The route going up my chain of command got blown back in my face by the Commanding Officer of Fighter Squasdron One, and I still have the memo he wrote to his Executive Officer. He says “I spoke with Gram” and to this day I don’t know if he meant a Lieutenant Gram who was assigned to Fighter Squadron One, or if he meant “Graham” and misspelled my name. Either way, it was a colorful memorandum, as the XO wrote of the members in my chain of command who had approved my request, “what stupid fools they were.”
I eventually titled one of my books with that line. But the other route I took, going straight to the Pentagon, to the Office of the Chief of Information, resulted in a letter coming from them to my CO informing him, and me, that indeed I could sell my videos — provided I take out the scenes of simulated obscene sex acts during Shellback Initiations.
They ended up on TV worldwide. Here is a link to the US report (or click the photo).
They aired in 12 countries, all across Europe and across the United States, and had a total of 20,000,000 viewers in 1997. Clearly, if I’d stayed in the Navy, you’d not be seeing that.
So I hope you enjoy watching the videos I will link to from here, and I hope if you saw them on Youtube first and one of them brought you here, you will find the excerpts of my books and the audio and video links enlightening, entertaining, and educational.
Above all, I hope this contribution to military history will not shy you away from serving your country, but rather just prepare you for the shenanigans that some shipmates will try to put over on you, so you can go in with your eyes wide open and help make the Navy a better place to serve.
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From Germany, 2017