Hoeller Photography LLC
I went to the gate of my permanent job in the navy and they said, "Don, oh wait a minute", He went back in the building and he comes back out. He said, "there's a message here that you are to report to the commanding officer of the Naval Station." "What did you do?" I said, well, I know what it's all about. So he said, "well, get in the truck." So once arrived, I run in, he said, "go down the hall and turn left." And I thought, I'm going to pull a sneaky. So when I walked in, an officer took me to the door of this office and he said "you have a message here, you're to report to commanding officer, what the hell did you do, you're in trouble already?" I said, no, I think I know. So when I walked in, I thought you don't salute officers when you're inside a building, you salute them when you're outside. And I thought, I'm going to salute this officer. And I walked in, this guy was sitting at his desk and I walked up in front of his desk. I said, seaman, Don M. reporting for duty, sir, (saluting him), and he looked at me and he reached over and he had a chair over there and he pulled it up beside his desk and he put his feet up on his desk. He said, "you're 22 years old, you got a college degree.... what in the hell are you doing in that uniform, you should be wearing the uniform I'm wearing." I said, I'm here to serve my country. He says "what the hell am I going to do with you?" He said, "well, go back to the barracks and I'll call you in a little while." So I went back to the barracks, it took almost all day but they came to get me and took me back. And this was the third man in command. There's a commanding officer, the executive officer and operations officer and that's who they took me too. He said, "you're going to have a tough time" and I said, why? He said, "because you're 22 years old, these other guys are only 17 and a half." I was told I was going to be working with the operations officer. The operations officer, who's third in command had a desk, right beside him I had a desk. I worked with him and I moved people from departments. I was older than some of the officers as well, but it was fun.
I was responsible for the radio and telephone communications for the naval ground observers. I was a staff sergeant in the Army. I still remember my Army serial number, I will never forget it, #35843... They never lost a man until Normandy, they had 608 men and brought back 187… I was one of the replacements. Luckily, I didn’t end up going. I was the happiest when the war was over. There were close to a million service men in the San Diego area. It was one hell of a party. It took me two days to get back to normal.