Cause or Effect?
By Garland Davis
I’ll not use his real name. You will understand by the time I finish this.
In 1963, I reenlisted, at the age of nineteen, as a CS3, on the STAR program for a guaranteed school. I was ordered to the sixteen-week CS ‘B’ School course at the Naval Training Center, San Diego. The STAR program enabled automatic promotion to either PO2 or PO1 providing the person graduated in the top ten percent of his class.
I met Randall upon arriving at the school in February 1964. He was also a CS3 and a Star student. There were fifteen students in the class. Randall immediately figured that ten percent of a fifteen-man class was one point five people. He deduced that only the Honor Man would be advanced, and he determined it was to be him. The Senior Instructor, a CSCM, told us that if we did well we would both become Second Class Petty Officers. Randall was twenty-three years old and had made CS3 on his third try. He became very incensed when he learned I was nineteen and had made PO3 on the first try. He called me “Rate Grabber.” Randall treated our relationship as a competition.
I graduated from “B” School as class Honor man with the second highest grade ever attained by a student. Randall had the third highest grade, just two one-hundredths less than mine. We were both advanced to CS2 on July 2, 1964.
We both had orders to Submarine School in New London. But because most students from previous classes had gone to submarines, COMCRUDESPAC had complained. Those of us going to Sub School had our orders canceled. Both Randall and I had asked for Japan when we filed our dream sheets. Because of the circumstances, we all expected orders to Cruisers or Destroyers. I received orders to the Navy Commissary Store, Yokohama and Randall to a can out of Yokosuka. He often said that I got the cushy orders because of two lousy hundredths of a point.
During the next two years, I saw Randall from time to time. We both took the exam for CS1 in May of 1966. He assured me that I didn’t stand a chance because it was my first time and I had barely four years in the Navy. I made CS1 and he didn’t. The day I put it on, he took a swing at me in the club. He made CS1 about a year later.
Randall made Chief in 1972. I was on a Bureau Hold because I had aced the February 1971 test. I was finally advanced in February 1973 with a date of advancement of May 16, 1971. When Randall learned of it, he got into my face at my initiation and said, “I just can’t beat you Mother Fucker.”
I went to another ship in Pearl and a tour of shore duty at the Pearl Harbor Commissary Store. During this time Randall went to San Diego. In 1979, I went to an FF out of Yokosuka and in 1980 Randall retired from the Navy and went to work in the fast food industry in San Diego. I stayed in the Navy and went to USS Midway in 1981 as the Leading MS. Midway was awarded the Ney Award in 1982 and 1983.
In early 1984, Randall came home from work, went into the bathroom and shot himself to death leaving a wife and two daughters. He left a note on the mirror in lipstick that said, “It didn’t go the way I planned it. I could never come out ahead.”
I read a story once about a guy who killed himself. Some shrink was going on about the futility of trying to understand it. It’s impossible, makes no sense at all. Once a person reaches that point, he’s in another world, one that his survivors will never understand. If you do figure it out you might be in trouble yourself.