By: Garland Davis
Remember the Science and Mathematics Geeks and Nerds from high school?? The Navy actively recruits these individuals. They are the people who can learn, understand and operate the nuclear reactors and propulsion systems used in our Submarines and Aircraft Carriers. They are subjected to boot camp and must get past the rigorous training there. While there, they are tested extensively. If selected for training in the nuclear field, they must extend their enlistments by agreeing to serve for eight years. In return, they are sent for up to six months training as Machinist’s Mates, Electronics Technicians, or Electrician’s Mates. After completing this training, they are sent to Nuclear Power School for a period of two years. They study advanced Mathematics, Physics, and Nuclear Physics. They go to classes forty-five hours a week and are expected to study up to 25 hours a week outside the classroom. They attend classes six days per week. They are also required to perform military functions and duties. It has been said that a newly graduated Nuclear School Alumnus has the equivalent scientific training of a PHD.
They are not, however, taught Art, Economics, Literature, Poetry, Law, Ethics, Composition, English or any of the other liberal arts subjects considered the building blocks of an advanced education. They come into the fleet lacking a complete and well-rounded education. They also lack the one element that always serves the seafaring man (and woman in our Politically Correct Navy) well. COMMON SENSE! They have a well-earned reputation for being devoid of that particular trait
They are known by their fellow sailors as “Nukes”, or to be more exact, “Fucking Nukes”. The stories abound about them and the situations they can get themselves into. I was teaching an on base, evening course in Personnel Management for one of the local universities. I had a First Class ET Nuke in the class. We were discussing human behavior in the workplace. He could not understand that there were no ‘hard and fast’ rules that applied to humans in the same way in every situation and eventually dropped the course. Nukes see the world as “black and white”. There are no gray areas. But then, that is as it should be, for they are tending the atom farm and science and physics do not recognize gray areas.
The other evening a group of us were sheltering from the rain in my neighbor’s garage (that’s where the cooler was located) when the conversation turned to the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor. Each of us had been stationed there at one time or another during the 80’s. Diesel Dave was talking about a night shift with the Base Police Force. He said that they observed two sailors crossing the street and every now and then, one of them would bend over and pat the street. They went to see what was happening. The sailors were herding a pair of Cane Toads across the street because they didn’t want them to get flattened by a car.
The four of us listening said, “Fuckin’ Nuke” simultaneously.
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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.