I started working on Lawn Mowers, Bicycles, Appliances, and anything else my Dad found that was free. He recognized my natural mechanical abilities when I was 12 years old and helped me explore that talent. By the time I was 14 I was making more money than my Dad at his full time job repairing anything people needed repaired.
In Middle School I took Shop Class and quickly realized I had already attained more knowledge and skill than the Teacher, and he knew it as well. He let me work on all the equipment around the school so I would not get bored.
When I started High School I took the option that let me go to Trade School half the day. When people brought me old stuff to fix I would sometimes not be able to repair it because replacement parts were not available. I took Machine Shop in Trade School so I could become a Machinist so I could make or repair unobtainable parts.
Two weeks before graduation from High and Trade School McDermott Ship Yard sent an Industrial Recruiter to the Trade School to recruit Machinist, Welders, and other related Tradesmen to work in it's Shipyard. I jumped at that offer. I didn’t even wait to attend my High School Graduation. I stopped by the Principles office and picked up my diploma a week before and left for Morgan City, LA for the $500 they offered for early sign up at the Shipyard. After 4 years at the Shipyard I was laid off due to severe Hurricane Damage at the Shipyard and offshore oil platforms. I enlisted in the US Navy at that point. I only missed 6 of the 320 questions on the ASVAB test. The recruiter wanted me to enter the Navy's Nuclear Power Program. Having worked on Ships powered by Steam I wanted nothing to do with that at all. Nuclear Power sounds great but all it's doing is producing is steam from the nuclear reaction. I was much more interested in the then new Gas Turbine Engine and Drive Systems used on Combat Ships. The Navy sent me to the Electrical and Electronic side of the GS Rate because I was already qualified as a Mechanic, Machinist, and Millwright. I questioned the Master Chief why they were sending me off to Electronics School. He told me that due to the time I worked as a Millwright on Off Shore Oil Platforms if they added Electronics service and repair to my resume I would become a Sailor that could "Do it All" and become a valuable asset to the US Navy. I did have a little difficulty as many other students did in the first couple of weeks but then I had that moment when the "light" came on. I actually became better at Electronics than I had been as a Mechanic. I graduated at the top of every class I attended. I was so good at it the Navy sent me to schools that I should have only attended after reenlistment. After almost 2 years attending every Gas Turbine School the Navy had I got orders to a Ship Yard where the ship I would be assigned was still being built in Ingalls Shipbuilding Pascagoula, LA. I felt like I was Home again. My job for the next 6 months was on the USS Chandler DDG-996 Pre-Commishioning crew. I remained a USS Chandler Crew Member until the end of my 6 year enlistment. I left the Navy as a GS-1. When I made First Class Petty Officer after only 4 years of service my rate went from GSE-2 to GS-1. I was qualified as both a GSM and GSE.
Close to the end of my enlistment in the Navy General Electric was attempting to employ me. I would operate a Gas Turbine Power Plant in Saudi Arabia for 5 years and then become a GE Tech-Rep.
Then two Army Majors arrived at my Ship and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I would work out of the Anniston Army Depot in it's new M1 Abrams Tank Program serving as a Tech-Rep to Combat Units being issued new M1 Abrams Tanks. The $100,000 sign up bonus was icing on that cake.
In addition to helping units transition to the new Gas Turbine Powered Tanks I also designed and implemented upgraded components and systems that started with the XM1 and proceeding to the M1-A2 Abrams Tank. I also helped with the M1 Abrams Bridge Launching variant and upgrading of the M88 to the M88A2 Hercules Tank Recovery Vehicle required to service, repair, and recover M1 Abrams Tanks in the field. I retired after 25 years of service in both the US Navy and the US Army.