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14th Anniversary!
CHS Carlmont High School
Belmont, CA  USA
Sunday December 17, 2017
1964
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  OK! I'm numbaone... let's see who shows

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Today's Featured Biography

 

Jim Branchaud

From not-graduating in 1964 thru 1965, I "hid" from the draft at The College of San Mateo.

I was surfin' and workin' rather than learnin'. So in late 1965 I got my draft notice. I immediately, that very same day, ran to a recruiter and joined the Navy. They offered me a 120 day 'catch' program and I signed up. This gave me another 4 months to screw off before having to serve my country. Yippee! more surfin'...

Checked into Travis AFB for our flight to San Diego boot camp in shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops. Didn't know they had closed that facility, overnight, due to meningitis outbreak.

So on my Birthday in April 1966 I arrived at Chicago's O'Hara airport, in 8" of new snow. O'Hara was closed to vehicles because of the new snow so we were bedded down in an empty luggage claim area.

Unfortunately all us California boys were freezing for our lack of clothing. Enter a call to the Red Cross.

The next day, and looking like street people, we were bused to the Great Lakes Training Center, in Waukegan, IL. (California dreamin')

Completed boot camp in June 1966.

A very small group of us were immediately assigned to a military support group at Camp Perry (Sandusky) Ohio for the NRA's National Rifle and Pistol Matches. I worked in the Entry Office with one civilian. A grand 'growing up' experience! At end, we were given choice of duty and I requested Hawaii. It was September 1966.

I, and a fellow bay area Californian, drove a 1958 Ford station wagon non-stopped to California via Route 66. We paid $75 for it from the proceeds of our 'cashed in' California airline tickets. An interesting vehicle, it burned more oil than gas.

After replacing the front axle, somewhere in Nevada, and costing us everything we "saved" by this stunt, we made it to San Mateo. Broke! But we saw the country, sorta.

A week later, in September 1966 I boarded the USS Forster (DER-334) a rusty 305 foot WWII destroyer escort. Primary duty was blockading the Vietnam coast in Operation Market Time and chasing Russian trawlers.

I started 'over the side chipping paint' as ordinary seaman and but ended up as its leading radioman 2nd class.

We visited, many times, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and my favorite, Hong Kong.

By the end of 1969 I was sharing an apartment in Waikiki, working part time while in port and surfing whenever I could. I could afford to pay others to stand my duty, and did so frequently.

Then the Forster was going to be sent to the East Coast for decommissioning. "But not with me!"

That year's mass Vietnam "cutback" offered me an early out, so I decided to discharge from the Navy at Pearl Harbor. I transferred to shore duty and DESFLOT-5 message center to wait for discharge.

I was discharged in early January 1970. Now working full time at the Polynesian Hotel as a desk clerk by day and announcing a stage show at the Romanie Room topless club at night. I somehow found time to surf Waikiki's beaches and clubs in-between.

By February 1970 my activates were costing me more than my income. I hired on at Bell & Howell Company's Hawaii office until I could find a REAL job. I started as field service trainee and went to facility manager 25 years later.

Met my wife, Michele, on a blind date in 1975 and married in August of 1983. Purchased and lived in a downtown Honolulu condo for 12 years. Then bought our first new house in Kaneohe, on the other side of Oahu. Lived there for 8 years before making a small 'killing' in the Japanese buying frenzy. We moved to another new home, overlooking the north/east side of the island, in 1994.

July 2, 2001 Eastman Kodak Company bought Bell & Howell's service company and I chose to 'keep a job' and returned to field service with Kodak.

Now working harder than I did in all those past 40 years and counting the "years" before I can retire.

No little Branchauds (Phew!) and just lost our 18 year old cat, Riley.

Life has been interesting and good.....


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