Del Strode knows the value of hard work. At twelve, he took a part-time job on a farm. By fifteen, he decided to drop out of school to work full time. When winter hit, he moved into town and got a job working in a bowling alley. There, a chance meeting with two navy veterans changed his life.
They encouraged him to apply for a job on their government survey team, and he worked with them for a full year. Although he was encouraged to continue with the surveyors, he wasn’t sure that was what he wanted for his life. One week after he turned seventeen, Del walked into a navy recruitment center. One month later, he and his best friend reported for boot camp. Del knew quickly that this was the life he wanted, and he launched himself into the life of a career sailor.
Fifteen years later, he had advanced to master chief. He served on ships ranging from fleet tugs to the world’s largest aircraft carrier—in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans—working as a steamfitter, HP welder, radiographer, deep-sea diver, pipe-shop supervisor, and division officer.
Del’s story is proof that the only things a person needs to succeed are ambition and hard work. From the Farm to the High Seas is a blueprint for how to achieve success in any field or position, even when starting at an early age, with little education, and no financial support.
This book is an autobiography about a sailor, his working career, before, during and after serving in the U.S. Navy.
I decided early on that I was going to be a "lifer" and earn a retirement from the Navy. Not long after making that decision, I knew I did not want to be an officer. I would follow the teaching, if not the work ethics, of those who were quick with advice "get all you can and run like hell".
I served on two aircraft carriers, three repair ships, two salvage ships and three shore stations during my twenty years and twenty days of service in the U.S. Navy. I was a deep-sea diver and assigned to duty stations to serve as a diver ten out of the eleven years I maintained the diving qualifications. I have served in pay grades E1 through E9, with several specialties, including a number of collateral duties. Diving and salvage as both second and first class was one of those specialties but unlike most divers, I do not consider it the most important.
I attended school and certified in Non Destructive Testing procedures obtaining a license to handle isotopes of radioactive materials. I attended two welding schools, certified and worked as a high-pressure welder on twelve-hundred pound steam systems. I attended school for ship handling, underway Officer of the Deck and Command Duty Officer in port. I was an accomplished ship handler with advanced seamanship skills and with hands-on training in navigation prior to satellites. I received certification in advanced firefighting and shipboard damage control procedures after attending several schools. I have served as the damage control assistant (DCA), chief master-at-arms (CMAA), command senior enlisted advisor and as a division officer at three different commands. I volunteered and served in positions other than underway OOD normally filled by Officers. I left the Navy with a retainer at age thirty-seven.
After the Navy, I was a real estate salesperson, appraiser, broker and owner of a real estate firm. I also owned and operated a welding business just prior to leaving the Navy. I held a position in the local Norfolk Naval Shipyard in the Progress Section assigned as project manager and ship superintendent for repairs. I worked for the Department of the Navy overseas as the head of two branches of a ship repair facility, the dry docking officer and weight test director. I later took the superintendent position of a large public works facility. I exercised return rights just short of five years overseas back to the same desk at the shipyard in Portsmouth due to family illness. I retired to Florida at age forty-seven after losing my wife to cancer.
I left retirement for eighteen months to establish a computerized facilities management program at the local Naval Base. I volunteered to act as the Public Works Superintendent to assume the duties of the defunct O&M contractor at Mayport Naval Station and assisted in awarding a new contract.
Although I did not have any formal recognition for my educational efforts, I did complete several correspondence courses in my pipe fitter rating and many others in a variety of professional subjects. I also spent many hours in college level classes and lectures mostly in Industrial Engineering. These classes, and on the job training especially in supervisory skills prepared me for early promotions and to serve in several officer positions. As a civilian, I was able to serve in a few positions normally assigned to engineers..
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