Part VIII

Commissioning

Towards the end of the semester, all of our graduating NROTC class, approximately 40, were getting fitted for our new Ensign uniforms. On June 24th, we received our orders, and I was elated to see that I was going to the U.S. Submarine School at New London, Connecticut, which had been my first choice. (My second choice was destroyers.) Three others in my class were also scheduled to go to Sub School. At the last moment, just before graduation, orders were received to delay graduation of approximately 75 percent of the class, due to a reduced requirement for new officers in the fleet. The supply had finally caught up with the demand. The NROTC staff selected twelve seniors with the highest total of University credits, to receive their commissions. Fortunately, this included me. I had 114 of the 120 units needed for graduation. I had taken 20 units in the last semester, but it still wasn't enough to get my University degree. I would receive my commission as Ensign, but would have to come back after the war and take another six units to get my B.A. degree. Will I do it? (I did.)

All of the graduating class received their commissions as Ensigns, except C.C. Carstens and Mike Marienthal, who had opted for the Marines, and received their 2nd Lieutenant's bars. (C.C. was killed, and Mike lost a leg, on Okinawa. After the war, Mike became a spotter and commentator on football broadcasts, having been an outstanding player while at UCLA.) This was part of the regular graduation ceremonies held in the outdoor Greek Theatre, just south of the Education Building. We were dressed in our new uniforms, with one bright stripe, and walked across the stage as our names were called. I received my commission as Ensign in the USNR, and Lieutenant Commander in the University of California Cadets.

Just before leaving for Submarine School, Parm and her parents visited me, and we went to dinner at 'Sugie' Sugarman's Tropics, in Beverly Hills - a Polynesian-style restaurant, similar to Don the Beachcomber's and Trader Vic's. We were somewhat rushed that night, and in order to get the waiter to hurry our order, Parm's father told him that we were in a hurry because “the officer has to catch a train." As I look back on that now, it seems strange to say "train" instead of "plane," but that was the normal mode of travel then, even to distant locations.

Since my orders allowed me until July fifth to report to Sub School, I had about a week before starting my trip. I went to San Diego to see my family. After several days of good home cooking, visiting friends, and lots of sleep, I caught the train back to Los Angeles' Unlon 8tatlon, and from there left by Union Pacific, headed for Ned London. I was finally getting underway.