When I got to the boat, I had already taken the E-5 exam and missed it by .5 point. Since they multiply your test score by your time in service
and time in rate, I was told to resubmit for recalculation at my next command. The extra couple of months in the Navy
and in rate would put me way over for advancement. When I got o the boat, I asked to COB for permission to resubmit my test results. He refused. His reasoning: you'll make E-5 and I need E-4s to wash dishes, or mess crank. So do your time mess cranking, take the next test and if you're as good as you say you are, you'll make E-5 the next cycle.
My boss was an E-6 who had basically give up. Our chief was actually an senior chief and probably one of the wisest men
and leaders I've ever met. A few months after I arrived, he made master chief, the highest enlisted rank and he actually out ranked the COB, who was still a senior chief. I took the test again and started mess cranking, which I hated. 20 hrs a day of peeling potatoes, serving food
On the 69th day, the Capt. came into the scullery and said, "Hey, I've got some good news and some great news! You made E-5, so put on a clean uniform and muster topside! The great news is you won't have to serve lunch! Congrats!"
I joined the ET division as the least senior member
. Since the E-6 had "checked out" mentally and was doing nothing and the 2 other E-5s were getting out soon, the ETCM (master chief) made me the division LPO about 6 months later, even though I was in the middle in terms of seniority. Kinda awkward. My 4 new ETs came at a time when we got a lot of new people, so none of them ever had to mess crank.
My crowning achievement on that boat was when the COB came to me and said, "We're voting and ranking all of the E-5s. It's a tie between you and Hambone because Hambone is qualified Chief of the Watch (2 pay grades above our current
pay grade), but if you do it also, then you're the clear winner."
I was in the middle of standing all of my UI watches, taking the tests, getting my qual card filled out line by line when a little birdie chirped to me. We were headed to Vallejo soon and the COB's plan was to put the Duty Chief on a 7 day rotation and put Hambone and I on the weekends, permanently. The 5 junior chiefs would take Mon. - Fri. and Hambone would have Sat. and I'd have Sun. We'd never get to go back to San Diego
and see our families. I was pissed, but didn't let on. I finished up everything and got my qual card signed but I didn't sign the qual book, so I couldn't stand teh watch. However, since I finished my qual card, I could put "completed all qualifications for Chief of the Watch and Duty Chief" on my evals. It was a big deal for an E-5 and they couldn't stop me. Right after the evals were done, they told us the results of the E-5 rankings.
Hambone was ranked #1 and he deserved it, he was standing watch every Sat. and never going home, I was going home every weekend. I was ranked #2 and the rest of my division were ranked #3 through #6! I was so proud of my division! As LPO, there's no greater honor than to have your entire division ranked higher than anyone else on the entire boat (except for Hambone, who really deserved it!)
It meant a lot because the rankings were the votes of all of the chiefs onboard, and they had all voted for my guys instead of their own E-5s! Not to be immodest, but we won a lot of awards for the best operational readiness due to our gear
being up and running at all times. This is also mentioned in Wikipedia.
"The next few years saw a number of other accomplishments - Plunger was recognized for excellence in virtually every major inspection
and won the Battle Efficiency (the coveted "Battle E") award
for overall combat readiness. Although aging, Plunger maintained a grueling operational schedule, spending over 60% of her time at sea and never missing a scheduled underway period - a record
that many much newer submarines were unable to match."
We actually won 4 out of the last 5 Battle Es awarded prior to decommissioning.
"At the time of decommissioning Plunger was noted by the San Diego
Tribune as being the most-decorated submarine in the Pacific Fleet and it was the most-decorated warship in San Diego. Through its history
, Plunger was awarded four Navy
Unit Commendations as well as multiple Meritorious Unit Commendations, Battle Efficiency, and other awards. And as of its retirement
Plunger was the only submarine to win the Arleigh Burke Award
(in 1969 under Commanding Officer Nils Thunman)."
I'm still friends with the Master Chief and we still marvel at how lucky we were to get the men
we did in our division, they were truly one in a million! They were such excellent techs and hard workers that on the rare occasions when we were in port, they usually had all of their work
done by 1130. Anybody who didn't have duty was sent home for the day. When I had duty, the other LPOs would ask me, "Where is your division?" "They went home at lunchtime.' They were so jealous! LOL