Electronics Technician Class "B" School
San Francisco, CA
October 1968 - October 1969
I moved the family (Janet and Warren Jr.) back up to the bay area and found an apartment out on 104th Street in Oakland. I reported to the 48 week Advanced Electronics Technician Class "B" school on Treasure Island. I wasn't sure how long I would initially be there, as this school had a reputation of having a very high drop out rate. I remember LT. Basham, in his welcome aboard speech, saying "if I had my way, you would be here without your families, so we would have 100% of your attention." I remember thinking, what am I getting into!
I was in one of the last classes to go through this old-school 48-week version of "B" School. Later the course was trimmed several times, deleting material that was nice-to-know for a career on the outside, but not necessarily conducive to the Navy's needs. Fault isolation down to the component level was becoming a lost art as the fleet (and equipment manufacturers) were now only requiring the fault to be isolated to board or module level. Vacuum tube theory was being replaced with solid state circuit theory. The old Thevenin's and Norton's Theorem type of analysis and teaching weren't necessary anymore. The math portion was reduced, with more emphasis on Boolean Algebra and only an elementary exposure to Calculus. I remember that we had to design a power amplifier and a yagi antenna, mainly as an exercise to give you enough homework to keep you busy over the weekend. Nice experience for designing circuitry, and a fun exercise, but not that necessary in learning troubleshooting and fault isolation in Navy equipment. These, and other fun exercises, were later eliminated. We were strongly encouraged (hell, it was almost mandatory) to attend remedial night study, which started after hours around 6pm to 9pm - instructors was made available to answer questions. It was the toughest school that I ever attended, harder than any college course I've ever taken.
The first 16 weeks of this school was the math portion, and were the toughest. I burned a lot of midnight oil getting through it. During this 16 weeks, we went from 2+2 through Algebra, Trig, functions, and 4-weeks of Differential & Integral Calculus. Back in those days, we had to use slide rules to calculate Trig functions, Base 10 Logs and Natural Log functions. Later, while attending Junior College in the ADCOP program, I was required to take a college Algebra course. I went through this entire course without missing one homework or test question, and I know it was because of the math that I learned in "B" School. The Business Calculus courses that I took later were also very easy because of this training. This first 16 weeks was also a conditioning period, designed to get us into good studying habits. Attending additional night classes, during the first 24 weeks or so, was almost mandatory to successfully make it to graduation.
I ended up graduating around the middle of my class.
The Mighty ETB Walnettos Receive Their Plaques
During the spring of 1969, to fill in the time between regular class hours and the start of night study, I formed a softball team from several different classes, and we entered the base intramural softball league. We were called the ET "B" Walnettos. Walnettos, for those that don't know or remember, were small individually wrapped square walnut tasting candies that were popular in the 50's, which were now making a comeback. We ended up winning the league championship, going undefeated. We brought home the first first-place team trophy that "B" School had ever won. We had a team that I believe was good enough to play in any all-Navy tournament. We had a 3rd baseman that played several feet in front of the bag (right down the batters throat) and could fire a bullet to first. We had a short stop that didn't let anything get by him. The pitcher could do things to a softball I had never seen before. He was not only very fast, but he had several different kinds of pitches that fooled many batters. In addition, he was our power hitter. The two hardest positions to train/develop were:
1. First Base. This position had to learn to back pedal back to the bag, when a ball was hit to third base, or be hit between the shoulder blades by a throw from the quick hands of the third baseman.
2. Catcher. This position had to be able to catch a ball from our pitcher, which was not only very fast, but he threw pitches that would break several inches or more. I know, I tried catching for him during pregame warm-up once. He would warn me before hand which way the ball was going to break, but I still wasn't ready for a ball that broke like his pitches.
All the other positions were quite good also. It was quite a team.
I remember one game in particular, where we were trying out our backup pitcher because our main pitcher was going on leave the next week and would miss one game. This backup pitcher was doing a fairly decent job, but found ourselves in a tied score situation around the seventh inning and the momentum shifting to the opposing team. So, we brought the regular pitcher into the game, to pitch the last two innings. We were playing the ET"A" School team, I believe, a team with several very good ex-baseball players. They had quite a rooting section in the stands, and they were going wild as their team rallied to tie the score. They just knew that they were on the verge of beating the mighty Walnettos. I'll never forget the look on the faces of the next 6 batters (over the next two innings), nor will I ever forget the silence that fell over the stands when our pitcher (Mike Rossi) struck out those next 6 batters in about 20-pitches. I remember one batter make the comment "gooooddd daaammmmnnn" after watching the first pitch produce smoke in the catchers glove! It was something to watch. We eventually scored another couple runs and won the game. We struggled through our next game, without our star pitcher, but our backup did an excellent job and we were able to win that one too.
I will also add at this point that I was just an average softball player - especially under fastpitch rules. After assembling players of this caliber, it didn't take me very long to realize that I wasn't good enough to play on this team. Even though I essentially formed the team, I wanted to see the best players play, so I warmed the bench. So, I became a back-up player, team co-captain, and the team statistician. The third baseman (Houston Cox) became the the other co-captain because of his experience and overall knowledge of the game. It was a great team to be a part of in any capacity.
I might add here that one other team from "B" School took 3rd place, the "Bubba Bares." They were composed of players from mainly one class. They were no slouch of a team either. The second place team was the Marine team, the "Devil Dogs." Their pitcher was also the pitcher for the base team, who later went to the All-Navy tournament. And, I might add, we beat him.
Morning Quarters & Muster - ET"B" School
Upon graduation, I received orders to remain at NAVSCOLCOM Treasure Island and become an instructor at Advanced Electronics "B" School, the same school I just graduated from.
Please Sign My Guest Book