Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor
Life aboard the Kitty Hawk didn’t support taking college courses very well. While at sea, my group typically worked 12 and 12. The birthing compartments really didn’t have anything that could be used as a study area. While in port, nobody wanted to do anything except get off the ship, so, it was typical to either be on duty and have a watch or be off the ship. After three and a half years on the Kitty Hawk, I think I only completed two or three courses. They were all part of the PACE – Program for Afloat College Education. The classes I had were sponsored by Chapman College, in Orange, California. Luckily, they all were transferable later on.
After my time aboard the Hawk, I went to a Navy School in Northwest, Virginia which is a tiny town in the southeast part of the state along the North Carolina border, just east of the Great Dismal Swamp. Nineteen weeks of school there prepared me for my next duty station, NAVCAMS EastPac. I arrived there shortly after Naval Communications Station, Honolulu was officially renamed Naval Communication Area Master Station, Eastern Pacific. There I worked in a funny little place we called the “Dinosaur Cage.”
NAVCAMS was a great duty station. It was located in the central valley of Oahu bordering the Eva Forest Reserve. After being on the housing waiting list for a few weeks, I was able to bring my wife and son to live with me in a Navy Housing community called “Camp Stover.” To get to Camp Stover you had to drive through the gate at Wheeler Air Force Base (Now Wheeler Army Air Field) then south through an Air Force housing area to the Naval Housing at Camp Stover. With the small navy base and housing, the larger Wheeler Air Force Base, and the huge Schofield Barracks across Kunia Road, there were many opportunities to take college courses. Chaminade University in Honolulu sponsored the classes and with a stable work environment, I was able to take quite a few courses, both lower and upper division. My lower division classes, such as Marine Biology and Oceanography, transferred to Anoka-Ramsey Community College. My upper division classes, such as Philosophy of Law, 430, later transferred to Metropolitan State University.
The most difficult class I had in college was through Chaminade. It was “American National Government.” For the final, the professor handed everyone two blue books to write our answers in and told us to let him know if we needed more. The test only had ten questions. I’ll remember that first question forever. “The office of the president of the United States consists of 12 major functions. Explain those functions and how they came to be either through law or tradition. Yes, the rest of the questions were like that too. I pretty much filled my two blue books and had to turn in my books when he called “Time.” I left feeling like I might have passed, but probably not. My hand was sore and cramping after two hours of writing when I left. Luckily, I did pass; I so didn’t want to have to retake that class.
After my three years in Hawaii, I decided to leave the Navy after 10 years/10 months active duty and return home to Minnesota. There I would make use of the GI Bill.
Today, the Kitty Hawk is decommissioned and destined to be scrapped. There is some activity to try to make it a museum ship. I would like to see that happen, but I doubt it will. The Kitty Hawk was the last of the aircraft carriers to run on oil and is one of the last two carriers that could be made into a museum. I understand that nuclear carriers are not candidates to become museums due to the destructive dismantling necessary to remove their reactors.
The Northwest, Virginia base has been renamed and is now the “Naval Support Activity Norfolk, Northwest Annex.” The equipment I was trained there to work on is long gone.
The base in Hawaii is repurposed and renamed. Google Earth shows that the equipment I worked on there is also long gone. (Although, it appeared some of it was still there in 2002 when I last visited Hawaii.)
Although I never took classes on the Chapman College campus, I look at it as the place I began my college education. Chapman College became Chapman University in 1991 and is highly ranked among master’s level universities in the west.[i]
I only one class on the Chaminade campus. There was a Marine Biology class that required lab work and labs for the class were on campus. The campus was only about 25 miles away from the base. All of the lectures were in Wahiawa. While I attended Chaminade it added graduate programs and changed its name from Chaminade College to Chaminade University.[ii]
[i] Wikipedia: Chapman University – Rankings and titles. History https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapman_University#Rankings_and_titles.
[ii] Wikipedia: Chaminade University of Honolulu History https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaminade_University_of_Honolulu#History.