When we left the academy, I had orders to the Deep Sea Salvage Diving School in Bayonne, NJ. Ellen and the kids returned to her home town and I stopped off in Bayonne, with high hopes of becoming a diver. Unfortunately, between the murky depths of the water and the idea of being locked into that big hard hat suit, I came down with a terrible case of claustrophobia, and had to quit the school. (It actually was so bad that I couldn’t ride in small elevators or drive through tunnels for quite some time!)
Instead, I was sent to my first aircraft carrier, the USS Wasp (CV-18), and caught her just in time to sail on a multi-nation exercise in the Northern Atlantic called “Operation Mainbrace”. What a disaster! The whole time was spent in big storms and cold weather. The waves were so ferocious that they mangled all the area on the bow under the forward edge of the flight deck. (See the picture below) This is one reason future carriers all have enclosed bows.
But I was lucky again. I was assigned as the ship’s Master-at-Arms and had an office with private quarters to spend my time in. (Notice that my rating badge is now on the left arm, as are ALL rates now.)
Master-at-Arms, “Jimmy Legs”: The chief petty officer aboard a man-of-war, the master-at-arms, attends to the police duties of the ship. The title derives from his traditional duty of instructing the crew in the use of small arms. “Jimmy Legs” is a humorous nickname for the Master-at-Arms.