GORDON J SAINDON
Name: GORDON J SAINDON
Entry Date: 2/15/1960
Exit Date: 63
CAC 11- Sigonella, Sicily Feb 1963
“I started my Navy time much as others do. I went immediately to “boot camp” (Great Lakes). Then to AN”P” school at Norman, OKLA. At the AN “P”, we went through a “screening and classification” which was conducted by a PN2 “Alphabet”. He informed me that I was not qualified to go to AT “A” school, which the recruiter had told me was going to be no sweat. Fortunately for me, PN2 Alphabet was over-ridden by the screening officer.
After graduating from AT “A” school, I was assigned to HS-6, which was located at NAAS Ream Field, Imperial Beach, CA. I was sent directly to the AT shop where I found I had about 19 bosses. It seems I was the ONLY non-rated man in the shop. Those Petty Officers actually took great care of me. They did not want anything to happen to their new field-day person. Particularly when we scored very high on the first weekly zone inspection. As with most good things, that had to come to an end. I was transferred to the line crew. I found myself working for ADC Slaven, who ran his crew with an iron fist. When he gave a task, that chore was to be done immediately, correctly and neatly. That is all he requested of his crew. (This chief could have given Chief Watts advanced training on being in charge.) He was my first real experience with working for a task master. And I took notes.
I made AT3 and left HS-6 to go to VR-21, Barbers Point, Hawaii where I fixed the electronic equipment on the R6D (C118) when I was not out flying as a radioman. I spent two years in VR-21 and made AT2 before being transferred to VR-7/8 at Moffett Field. They were flying R7V’s. I had only six more months before I was due to get out (does anyone read short-timer?). So the squadron sent me TAD to the Navy mothball base, Litchfield Park near Phoenix, AZ. While there I decided to reenlist.
Little did I know, as soon as I reenlisted, I received a set of orders to report to NAS Brunswick, VP-21. Being a West Coast sailor, I thought I was headed for Brunswick, GA. Brrrrrr, was I wrong! I arrived in Brunswick, ME in the middle of February. And I learned the squadron was due to go on a split deployment, half to Sigonella, Sicily, half to Keflavik, Iceland. I was asked which site I would prefer—Immediately I choose Sig. I was informed that I was being put on CAC 11, as the radioman, and CAC 11 was headed for Kef. So much for choosing the warm climate. I flew with CAC 11 (AD2/1 Charley McGourty, AD3 Stevenson, AO1 Harry Worwetz, AMC Joe Clemente, AT2 Jim Besse, AT3 Larry Schwartz, and AE2 Keith McFarren) for about 38 months while stationed at Brunswick. During this period I made AT1, and we had the above mentioned split deployment, went to Argentia for the Cuban Missile crisis (and stayed an extra two plus months because one of our sister squadrons from Brunswick could not handle their mission, so our three did what their six aircraft could not do. We had another deployment to Kef, and one more deployment, finally to Sigonella. I transferred from VP-21 to VR3, McGuire AFB, NJ. This tour lasted about 8 or 10 months before the Navy, in its finite wisdom, transferred me again. This time to RVAH-3, NAS Sanford, FL. When I checked in, I was informed I would be Duty Section Leader and it would be up to me to develop the watch bill for the section. They handed me a roster of my section and told me the watch list was already made up for the next two duty days. Imagine my surprise when I found a name I recognized on the roster. It was (still PN2) “Alphabet” from my days in AN’P’ school. It was a good thing I had been trained to be a good sailor by Chief Slaven.
RVAH-3 was the RAG squadron for the sea-going RVAH’s. I left that outfit after two lifetimes (it seemed) and went somewhere I had no desire to go back to—NATTC Memphis for AV “I” B school. But it was the only way I could get away from the “recco heavies”.
Upon completion of “B” school, I was notified I was going back to Sanford to join RVAH-7. Once the Navy tattoos a tailhook on your posterior it never comes off. We made a couple of West Pac cruises to visit the warm waters of the south China Sea. Then we made a “Med” cruise during which I was advanced to ATC. I was transferred while on that Med cruise to return to the West Coast.
I went to a NamTraDet (NAMTD) to instruct on computer aided Test Consoles for electronic equipment. I did this for several years, made ATCS and was presented with a set of TAD orders to join the Naval Education group, located in beautiful downtown Burbank area at the Lockheed Plant.
Lockheed was building the S3A. And since I had experience in ASW and electronic test consoles they thought I would be a perfect fit for this project. Upon roll-out of the S3A, my services were no long required in Burbank, so the Navy returned me to San Diego and placed me in the S3A NAMTD. However about this time someone realized the tailhook they had tattooed me with had not seen any deep salt water in a long time.
Again, in the Navy’s finite wisdom, they transferred me to VS-38, which was flying S2F’s. This lasted about 4-6 months. The Navy again issued transfer orders and sent me across the hall to the sister squadron VS-37, where they had originally planned to send me but made a “clerical” error.
After several West Pac cruises VS-37 was scheduled to get rid of their S2F’s and be transitioned to the S3A. I made AVCM at this time. They wanted me to sign an extension of my sea duty which would last until two years after they received their S3A’s. I respectfully declined their kind offer.
Since I had just made AVCM I was transferred to a VAW squadron in need of a maintence chief. They were still flying E1B’s. As it turned out, this squadron was selected to be decommissioned. And I was again made available to be dispersed to the wild winds. I was sent to Whidbey Island to join VAQ-133, which flew EA6B’s and was due for an imminent deployment to the Med.
This cruise was about as close to a luxury ocean voyage for a person like me who had been the maintenance chief for three straight deployments. I was assigned as the Command Master Chief. After the deployment on the Kennedy, I was transferred back to NAMTD San Diego at Miramar. There I became the CPOIC for West Coast VAST (Versatile Avionic Systems Test) systems for both the S3A and F14 weapon systems. With only two stations available for training, I did the unthinkable in the training environment. I established evening and midnight training sessions in order to properly train the quantity of personnel needed by the Pacific Fleet. These machines were being used around the clock Monday through Friday and we were barely capable of keeping up with the amount of operators and technicians needed.
I decided to transfer to the Fleet Reserve at the end of that tour and open an AVCM slot for some other individual. I then went to work for a defense contractor (Link Flight Simulation) in upstate New York. This was not a good choice for a kid who had grown up in the desert of New Mexico. However, I stayed there for about thirteen years at which time they offered me early retirement. I grabbed it and ran (drove) as fast as I could for the desert of Las Vegas, Nevada. And here I remain”