Birthday Away

Birthday Away

By Robert “Okie Bob” Layton

There is a saying in the Navy, that seagoing sailors like to use when one finds himself in trouble with the upper chain of command.

Heavy on the sarcasm, dripping with apathy, and boldly challenging, it went like this:

“What are they going to do—-take my birthday away?”

For it was a common assumption, that your birthday was safe from any punitive action one might incur after a foul up.


I’m here to testify that the US Navy took my birthday away!

Here is how it happened.

In the summer of 1967, I found myself stationed at Naval Air Station Agana Guam. After a brief stint around aircraft, I was shanghai’d to the Weapons Department, where I was tasked to be the Weapons Department yeoman. This assignment came with a requirement of a Top Secret clearance, and with a background investigation. Here is where the rub started.

Now, my Mother had me believing that my birthday was on the 29th of November, and I regarded this to be true for 20 years.

During the course of my background investigation, it was revealed that on my birth certificate, my date of birth was the 28th of November! One day off—how could this be?

I want you all to know that mother swore the 29th was my true birthdate.

She would say, “I ought to know I was there.”

She had all the details about the event:

I was born at 6:36 PM, weighed 8 Lbs 6 oz.

My place of origin was the old Lindsay Memorial hospital, Pauls Valley Oklahoma, which is now the 1st Baptist Church parking lot.

But—yet there it was, in black and white, my official birth certificate, from the state of Oklahoma records my birthday as the 28th of November.

And so it came to pass, that the Naval Investigative Service [NIS] recognized the 28th of November and took my birthday away, granting me a Top Secret clearance.

So now here I am—70 years young, confused as hell, but happy to be on top of the daisies. I guess I’ll count both days.

Thanks Mom, for having me, Love and miss ya.


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