Navy veteran Sue Gilmore salutes “the Old Salts.” Photo by Sue Gilmore.
In 1958, in Waterford, CT, my marriage took place with a Sailor who was based on the old diesel sub, the Entemedor. Shortly after our marriage he was assigned to the first SSBN, Ballistic Nuclear Submarine, the George Washington SSBN598 ad later to the George Bancroft SSBN. Our ports, besides Connecticut were Damneck, VA, and Charleston, SC, ending up in Washington DC, where he served as Detailer for Quartermasters and Signalmen.
While in Washington, DC area, we divorced. My love for the Military was not over. At age 38, I wrote a letter to the Navy expressing my desire to join but with the civilian experience wanted to avoid starting on the bottom. The Navy quickly responded noting that I was too old for active duty; however, they forwarded my letter to the Washington DC Naval Reserve Recruiter.
The recruiter established contact and advised me of a program available called “APG” (Advanced Pay Grade). This program used your civilian experience to apply to a Military billet. The program was not open at that time, but at his insistence, I took all the tests necessary. The program opened about two years later and after a medical exam, special attention paid to my hearing problems, I was provided set up with an interview with a Captain of the Reserve Security Group from the Navy Yard, Washington DC.
CPO Gilmore at her retirement ceremony. Photo by Sue Gilmore.
In 1977 I was given a CTA 3rd Class (E4 Billet), sworn in, provided with all clothing needs, and began my drills. The travel opportunities as well as the training received were always challenging experiences. We were then attached to Rota AB, Spain, and was able to take approximately three trips to Rota working with the active duty Navy, during approximately six years in the Security Group. Another sincere pleasure! One of our LTs had transferred to another unit and my interest was peaked, thus joining a SPAWAR Unit and again experiencing our military in action.
In 1997, I retired as a CTAC—chief petty officer. The initiation we went through made me aware of the work our sailors have in climbing a ladder. The job of A CPO is to assure our sailors are taken care of while they go through that process.
During my years as a Naval Reservist, I was employed by a few government contractors—GTE Government Systems (evolved into other corporations now), Yurie (taken over by Lucent), then here on the eastern shore obtained positions with PRC, later evolving into Northrop Grumman, in a Sounding Rocket Program on Wallops Island. In later years I became part-time by choice, then eventually decided to look for something closer to home.
Sue Gilmore taking a rest between adventures. Photo by Sue Gilmore.
While employed in a Special Program with GTE, I was asked to go on Active Duty during Operation Desert Storm. Master Chief noted that the CTA working for me was in College and did not want to do so at this time. I informed my master chief, I had signed on the dotted line and had no hesitation about being called to active duty.
Not sure how to reach the young men and women to encourage them to seek information on the APG program, assuming it is still open. However, good to note that my military benefits would not be there if I had not joined in 1977. My explanation to those who ask why I did this—God opens doors for us and in order to know the path He wants you to take, you have to give it a try. Thank God, I did!
Me and my van (currently a Chrysler T&C) would prefer to be on the road!
CPO Sue Gilmore, USN, (Ret.) Greenbackville, VA firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprint from Mar-Apr 2013 • Volume 43, No. 2