Walter


As Interviewed by Emily S., March 20, 2015

Walter: In His Own Words

Iím Walter and I originally grew up on long island in New York and Long Island Seafaring. There are a lot of ports there, you got port of New York, you got pork Jefferson, patch off, these are all places where thereís a lot of fishing boats that come in and other boats that bring in cargo and stuff like that. As a boy, I joined the Sea Cadets, which is like the boy scouts, but itís for a navy background, we learned navy terminology and we learned all about the navy through the Sea Cadets. So, that where I come from and thatís how I learned about the navy and got my start with the navy.

In Hawaii, I was second class, and this was 1976, and women were assigned to me. This was the first time I ever had women working for me. I had to teach them the techniques that I had learned on the ratio repair, and also as their supervisor I had to write up evaluations on how well they did, and I had to state whether they were good at repair, bad at repair. The other thing we had to worry about was fraternization- you can only date people of the same rank. You canít date a person thatís junior to you. That would be fraternization. Officers canít date enlisted. Enlisted supervisors canít date the women working for them. Even though they were very pretty, we canít ask them out on a date because they work for us.

At first, the guys didn't know what to do. I would assign a women to do the job, and they would go: What? Huh? They just didn't know what to do or how to work with her. I had to show the men that they had to work right along side and allow her to do the job herself. They wanted to do the job for her. They didn't think she was strong enough. Theyíd say: Oh, let me go first. Iíd have to say: Nope, sheís first. Youíre second. You stand behind her, you help.

There was a lot of prejudice, a lot of guys that really did object to taking orders, and they had to learn to take orders, because she knew, many times, more than the guys knew.

At that time, women were not allowed to be on combat ships. When we first had women upon ship, was in Japan. At that time, it was discovered in 1980, women weren't getting promoted because they didn't have their surface warfare pin. And that was necessary to get promoted to commander. So all these women were saying ďLook, we want that promotion to commander. And weíre guaranteed it by congress. So, you have to train us and take us out on ship.Ē Women didn't train on combat ships until the 1990ís. That was when they actually let women be on a combat ship with a combat role.