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Surface Warfare Officer, U.S. Navy Women Army

Surface Warfare Officer, U.S. Navy Women Army

SS NASSAU (LHA 4), I then attended Engineering Officer of the Watch School in Newport, Rhode Island. So far, everything sounds pretty normal, right?  When I reported to my ship,  they didn't need me in Engineering, so they made me the Assistant Navigator. That doesn't sound so bad either except my only navigation experience was gained in Luce Hall at the Academy.  About a week or so after I arrived, the
Navigator left, with no replacement.  Since I was not qualified, the Quartermaster Chief took over.  About three months later, after the new Navigator arrived, they decided to move me to Deck Department.  I was given Second Division, in charge of the well deck and vehicle storage areas.  It was a blast, but I was quickly forgetting all my engineering knowledge. Just about the time I had forgotten engineering even existed, they gave me the Aft Engineering Plant (MP-2). I was one of six women stationed on that ship.  All of us were officers since we were not fitted for enlisted female berthing.  During deployment we had a couple nurses and flight surgeons on board too.  Besides being shuffled   around a bit while they fixed up an official female "wing" complete with a head, I had a great experience on that ship.
When it came time to transfer, I requested a smaller ship for a different experience.  The detailer told me I'd be going to USS THORN (DD 988). However, they currently did not have any females on board and I'd be the first one.  Apparently, they were not ready for a single female on board because when my orders came, I had about 6 months worth of schools and working for the squadron.  When it came time to report to the squadron, a few "problems" arose.  They  would be embarking THORN and planned on bringing me along.  The ship didn't seem to happy about this since they sent me to the squadron to delay my report date until the female XO arrived.  The Commodore brought me along
anyway.  Three fellow officers had to move out of their room to make space for me and a sign was quickly added to the head - one side said "males" and the other said "females".  Not the first impression I wanted to make, but I usually adapt well.  So as to not create any more unpleasantness, I tried to awake early to take my shower so the men would not have to wait.  This usually meant getting up during the "mid-watch" - around 0300.  Luckily, we were only there for a couple days and I disembarked with the squadron staff and did not return to the ship for another month.  I finally did officially report to the ship, but the female XO was still not onboard.  She, and two female Ensigns, did not arrive for another few weeks. Again, I got shuffled around a little bit.  I was supposed to report as Navigator, but was not needed in that capacity.  I was given the title of Weapons Officer, even though there was no official billet for a Weapons Officer.  I actually became the Combat Systems Officer's assistant.  Shortly after I arrived, the Combat Systems Officer took a few weeks leave - right before the scheduled Ammo Onload!  Since the ship had also sent me to Legal Officer School, I took over that job.  Eventually, duties and circumstances led me to be the full time Administration Officer, Public Affairs

 Officer (PAO), Legal Officer and Morale Welfare and Recreation Officer (MWR). Yes, I became the "sh**** little jobs officer".  But, nothing lasts forever and I eventually got shore duty in Great Lakes, exactly the job I wanted.
All in all, my experience has been educational and unexpected.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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