First Class Petty Officer Ronald Warnick served in the United States Navy from May 11, 1960, through December 11, 1968. First Class Petty Officer Warnick attained the rate of ET1(SS), Electronics Technician First Class (Submarine Qualified) in the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program.
What was your training for your Rate?
I enlisted at Baltimore as a Nuclear Power Program recruit and was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center for basic training (boot camp) for eleven weeks. During this time I applied for the security clearance that was required for admittance into the Nuclear Power Program. Because my test scores were high and I did well in my interviews, I was classified as an ET Striker and went to school at Great Lakes, six weeks in E&EP school and then on to ET“A” School. ET was one of the rates eligible for the Nuclear Power Program. Also during this time I received my security clearance.
Next I received orders to report to the Navy’s Submarine School at New London-Groton, Connecticut. After graduation from submarine school I got orders to report to USS Entemedor, a World War II Vintage Submarine based at New London and began my career as a submarine sailor.
After about six months on Entemedor, I was transferred to the Navy’s Nuclear Power School at the submarine base for six months of classroom training, followed by six months of “hands-on” training at the submarine Proto Type in Idaho. In Nuclear Power School I did well enough to be allowed to choose the location for my Proto Type training. I chose Idaho for two reasons: (1) it was farther away from home than I’d ever been and (2) I wanted to try to get into the Pacific Fleet and felt the closer I was to the Pacific, maybe the Navy would assign me there.
Toward the end of nuclear power training we had to submit our preferences for our next duty station. I asked for a Fast Attack Nuclear Sub out of Pearl Harbor. I got orders to a Polaris Sub (USS James Madison) under construction in Newport News, Virginia. I went through construction, testing, and commissioning and then went out to sea. After commissioning, I served on the Madison for 2½ years.
Next I was assigned to the USS Lapon, a Fast Attack Sub under construction in Newport News, Virginia. Our Captain was Charles M. Mack (known as “Whitey”). Captain Mack made a name for himself and there is a whole chapter on him in the book “Blind Man’s Bluff”. I served on Lapon until my discharge from the Navy. During that time the crew received a Meritorious Unit Commendation.
I liked the Navy very much, it was hard to decide to stay or go. If I shipped over, it would put me over the half way mark (toward retirement). I decided to leave the Navy and go back to college.
What did you like most about the Navy?
I found the challenges of nuclear power, operating and maintaining the equipment, and standing watches, to be interesting. It was a lot of responsibility and pressure but I was up to it and I gave it my best.
Also I met a lot of good sailors, many of whom have remained friends ever since. One of those is Wayne Howie.
What prompted you to serve?
I had an Uncle in the Navy and an Uncle in the Army. I thought a lot about the Navy and decided if I ever went into the Military, it would be the Navy.
What did you like the least about the Navy?
I didn’t particularly like some of the people with whom I served.
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking of serving?
Keep your nose clean! You are in a situation where you don’t have the authority to do whatever you want. Someone higher up says do this or do that. You do it! You get along much better that way. Learn your job and do the best you can. Don’t try to get out of it or leave it for someone else to do and you’ll have a smoother way of it. You make your own bed both literally and figuratively. Usually those who did not like the Navy caused their own problems.
As a Veteran what have been some of the benefits?
I went to University of Wyoming on the GI Bill which allowed me to complete my degree. An added benefit was a VA loan when we purchased our first home.
THANK YOU First Class Petty Officer Ronald Warnick for your service!