The Decision to Join the Navy

                                          By John R. Vollaro                            January 2006

    After graduating from a two year community college with an Associates Degree in Electronics Technology I decided to look for a job as a technician. My first choice was IBM since they were a prestigious company and were known to pay well. In my interview with IBM I was told that my good record in college and excellent test results assured my acceptance. When I expressed concern about my military obligation I was assured that this was not a problem. I would begin work immediately. If and when I was drafted, I would serve the required two years on active duty and then return to a guaranteed position at IBM. 

    This seemed too good to be true but then the interview took an unexpected turn. I was told that an IBM employee was paid well and was expected to dress well. A suit, shirt, and tie were the only acceptable work attire. Furthermore the shirt must be white, and the width of the tie was specified. I guess I was ready to accept this although the thought of climbing under equipment in a suit and tie seemed foolish. The final straw was his next statement. He said that it was unacceptable to cash an IBM check in a bar. Although I have never cashed a check in a bar, the implication of control that extended into my personal life was clear. I left the interview shaking my head. 

    As I thought more about it, other things began to nag me. If I waited to be drafted, I would almost certainly end up in the Army while I wanted to serve in the Navy or Air Force. The two years of active duty meant 4 additional years in the reserves. Reserve duty included two weeks of active duty each year that could come at any time. If the reserves were activated, I could be back on active duty for an indefinite period (in hind sight I might well have been sent to Vietnam as a foot soldier). All of this did not fit with my grand plan for the future.

    In the end, I decided that God, Country, and my own interests were best served by a 4 year enlistment in the Navy. Now everyone else was shaking their heads.  Why trade a career at IBM for the life of a swabby? I guess the answer  was, I wanted to do it my way. It would not be the first or last time that I chose a path that was not the easiest or most obvious one.

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