Sailor/Airedale Jim Hamilton, U.S. Navy, 1962-66
My time in the Navy meant the world to me. I gained some much-needed maturity and a desire to go back and finish college.
I volunteered for the Navy in 1962, after spending time at Kansas State University. After Boot Camp in San Diego, I began nine months of training as an Aviation Electronics Technician. This designation qualified me to operate various types of Radar, Early Warning, and/or Navigation equipment aboard various aircraft. Sailors who worked on or around aircraft were often called Airedales.
Stations. From Argentia, Newfoundland, I would deploy to Keflavik, Iceland, where I flew Early Warning flights abroad an VW-11 EC121K aircraft, as a crewman. In Rhode Island, I deployed on two aircraft carriers, USS Wasp (CV-18) and USS American (CV-66) as crewman for Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron Thirty-Three (VAW-33), which flew versions of the AD Skyraider that were suited to their missions – Airborne Early Warning from Aircraft Carriers.
Above – Jim on a flight crew.
Right – USS America
My training enabled me to participate in a little piece of history. In December 1965 I was involved in the recovery of the Gemini 6a and 7 space capsules. My squadron of AD Skyraiders took off from the Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp to locate the capsule returning from space. Once we marked the location of the capsule in the North Atlantic, we returned to the carrier. That is when I took pictures from the Flight Deck of the Gemini pickup and the returning crewmen.
The Gemini capsule was recovered and the crew welcomed aboard.
Because of my military service, I qualified for the GI Bill and used it to complete my college education, returning to WSU in January 1966. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I asked my sister what businesses were hiring graduates right out of college. Using her advice, I earned a BBA degree from WSU in 1968 and later became a CPA. I worked in the Financial Services Industry before retiring in 2007 from a Multi-Bank Holding Company in Northeast Iowa. I am currently living in Southwest Florida.