I, James Ponce am interviewing Jesse Sandoval, a veteran, on his experiences of being a member of the United States Navy. The interview took place on October 21, 2006 at the residence of Jesse Sandoval. I am doing this interview for a project in my History class.
James : Ok, my name is James Ponce and I’m here with Mr. Jesse Sandoval here, he is going to be my participant in this interview, and I am going to be asking him questions about him and his life in the Navy. Mr. Sandoval, how old were you when you joined the Navy.
Mr. Sandoval : Nineteen.
James : You were nineteen years old.
Mr. Sandoval : I was nineteen years old.
James : Were you married?
Mr. Sandoval : No, no I wasn’t married yet.
James : Did you have, like a basic training to go through?
Mr. Sandoval : Yes, I went to basic training in San Diego, California, at the Naval Training Center.
James : What kind of training would you do?
Mr. Sandoval : All it was, was mostly getting in condition, did a lot of marching, a lot of discipline, and a little history on the Navy.
James : How long were you in the Navy?
Mr. Sandoval : All in all it was eight years active and two in the reserves.
James : What year was it when you joined the Navy?
Mr. Sandoval : I went in the Navy in 1956 to 60, and I was out 2 years till 1962, and from there I rejoined again from 62 to 1966.
James : What ship were you stationed on?
Mr. Sandoval : When I first joined the navy I went to Recruiting Station in San Diego and from there they sent me to a school, air conditioning school in Great Lakes, close to Chicago, and from there I was assigned to a ship in Oakland, California, no I was assigned to a ship in Long Beach , California, a U.S. Naval Destroyer , it was USS 830 Everett F. Laurelson was the name on the ship, and it was a radar destroyer.
James : What was your job on the ship?
Mr. Sandoval : My job on the ship was to work in the engine room, course when I joined the navy I thought that the engines were like cars but they were not they were steam driven engines so I had to re-adjust to that type of engines .
James : How long would you leave port and stay out on sea?
Mr. Sandoval : We would go from Monday to Friday out to sea on maneuvers and work on our ability to operate the ship and we were deployed to Japan for about six months out of a year, six to eight months out of the year, I was also around, it was also around the time that we were involved in that Tonkin Gulf War and that took us about four months around Vietnam, and then we came home, stayed for about four or five months then deployed again. That would happen every year, and in my final year I stayed about eight or ten months in dry dock, the ship was under repair, when that was done, that was finished then we deployed to Japan again and my time was gonna be up around August so they sent me back from the Philippines, to the Unites States, and I was discharged in 1960 for the first time.
James : When you would stay out at sea for several months at a time, what type of food would you eat?
Mr. Sandoval : Mostly canned food, sometimes right after our last stop would be Hawaii were we would have regular meat, vegetables , milk, and fresh eggs. About two weeks after that we would drink a lot of powdered milk,[laughing] a lot of powdered eggs, a lot of canned vegetables, that was it. Our cook, they were good cooks, but they would make our food in bulk so everybody got the same food with the exception of the officers, they had a little bit more fresh food.
James : What would you do for entertainment when you would be out at sea?
Mr. Sandoval : Once in a while they would show us a movie, but not very often because we didn’t have a lot of time for movies, most of the time it was, you would work eight hours and then you would go into a period were you would be on a watch for four hours so you would be on a watch for four and eight all, but if you were working during the day and you get off at four that means you have to you might catch four more hours of watch running the ship, and after that you would go to sleep about eight, if you had the eight to twelve, you would go to sleep at twelve, if you had the twelve to four, you would go to sleep at four 'o'clock in the morning and get up at eight go back to work.
James : How were the sleeping arraignments on the ship?
Mr. Sandoval : We had bank bud, I mean little cots, but they would be stacked like bunk beds, but they would fold up in the morning, there would be about three guys sleeping in one section, one on top, one in the middle, and one on the bottom.
James : How would you keep in touch with your family?
Mr. Sandoval : We would get mail, they would have a ship come out of the United States on a mail run and they would bring us mail, it would take about three for four days to reach us so the mail was about maybe four days old maybe six, it depends on the weather.
James : What type of places would you, were you able to visit?
Mr. Sandoval : Ok, we would take off from Long Beach, California, we would go to Hawaii, from there we would go to Guam, from there we would go to Japan, and stay about a week, and while in Japan we could go ashore, and visit the naval base, and maybe even go into Tokyo if we had the day off, cause they had three sections, it would be one section would work, the other would be on stand by, and the other one would go more or less to town. We could not go very far if we did not have enough time, so most of the time we would stay on base, visit the PX, visit the movies, and go to maybe a restaurant that they had, but that was about it, and from Japan we would go to Okinawa, in Okinawa they had what they called the Straits of Japan. Okinawa and Japan, I mean Okinawa and China were in a conflict at that time, we would patrol out at sea, just going up and down the straits strait, and from there we would go back to Japan and stay a little while, and from there we would go out to sea again, and maybe go to Hong Kong. While in Hong Kong we would visit the town of Hong Kong , and buy a lot of stuff that we would, that we needed, and we’d come out of Hong Kong, and then maybe we would go to the Philippines, stay in the Philippines for about two three days and go out to see again and patrol the areas around there for about a week, and then we’d go back to port, and so we would be doing that for about six months.
James : When you were able to leave the ship, were you able to drink, as in alcohol?
Mr. Sandoval : [Laughing] Oh yes, oh yes, in moderation of course you cannot be caught drunk getting back to the ship, but like in Japan in the base they have clubs were they would serve you what ever you wanted, either hard liquor or beer, but you couldn’t drink too much because if the shore patrol which was the police of the Navy, if they catch you staggering and so or something they'll take you back to the ship and report you to the officer in charge and you will be told to go to bed, you couldn’t go out no more, for about a week or so.