The Winds of Change

The 1970s

President Richard Nixon resigned. Polyester and disco ruled. America celebrated its bicentennial. The 1970s saw a lot of changes in American society and at NTC the 70s began with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new RTC Recruit Receiving Barracks.

The ribbon cutting was held by Capt. Arthur T. Emerson Jr., commanding officer of RTC. The new barracks was located at Camp Nimitz in the primary training area. The barracks was equipped with automatic washing machines and dryers, forever eliminating the hand scrubbing and line hanging of bell bottoms and dungarees. Recruits also had irons, ironing boards and oversized bunks. The four-story barracks had two wings, each designed for the temporary accommodation of 500 recruits.

The decade closed with NTC opening a new recruit processing center at Camp Nimitz, February 12, 1979.

On Jan. 29. 1971, RTC held its 1,000th recruit pass-in-review with companies 423 through 431 graduating. The reviewing officer was Rear Adm. Charles W. Shattuck, and the guest of honor was Charles W. Froehlich, president of the Sari Diego County Bar Association. Seaman Jonathan A. Levi, the outstanding recruit of the graduating class, received the American Spirit Honor Medal.

SSC also had a first in March, 1971 when it opened the Navy's first and only Barber School for Ship's Servicemen. Lt. Cmdr. Frank Kuhn, director of Administration and Supply Schools, was the first person to receive a haircut at the school. By 1979, the student curriculum expanded to include female haircut styles and grooming because women began going to sea.

In 1973 another first occurred. Capt. Robin Quigley became the first female commanding officer of SSC. On May 15, she took the helm of what was described as the "largest command ever given to a woman officer."

During the 1970s, NTC saw a lot of' firsts' for the advancement of women in the Navy. The first women attended Steward "A" school in early 1973. By March, the first woman entered Commissaryman "A" school. Other schools women began attending for the first time included Teletype Maintenance School and Motion Picture Operator ''C" School. By 1973, more than 250 women were in various "A" and ''C" schools. The first female Navy Diver graduated from SSC's Second Class Diving School at Naval Station, San Diego on November 30, 1973. Personnelman Seaman Kati Garner was attached to the Administrative Command before attending dive school.

NTC's first policewoman started duty in August, 1975. Seaman Linda Palm attended Shore Patrol School and became the first woman to patrol NTC for the Security Department. Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Martha Youngblood became the first woman BOOST Student to graduate and be accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy in June, 1977. Youngblood graduated first in a class of 93 students and had a 4.0 grade point average while at BOOST.

The Navy's Postal Clerk School began and ended at NTC. The "A" School began operating in February, 1972, but three years later moved to Fort Benjamin Harrison, an Army post near Indianapolis. The move was the result of an interservice training review board which consolidated certain military schools. By May 9, 1975, the last all-Navy Postal Clerks graduated from SSC.

Another communication school opened in 1975. Communications Systems Technician "C" School, which was relocated from Washington, D.C., was a six-month school consisting of classroom and lab training in advanced radio communications.

By 1971, NTCs Navy Exchange was celebrating its 25th anniversary. The services provided had grown to include a garden shop, auto service department, a mini-mart, an optical shop, a bread and mil drive-thru, a barber shop, a portrait studio, laundry, dry cleaning and flower delivery services and a cafeteria and main exchange.

Also in 197 1, the Navy initiated a new program at SSC. Called BOOST (Broadened Opportunities for Officer Selection and Training), the program helped prepare minority Sailors for commissioning programs. Thirty-eight Sailors were enrolled in the first BOOST class at SSC. The program remained a part of SSC until it moved to Newport, Rhode Island in 1994.

NTC established a new component command in 1978. Rear Adm. Fran McKee, the Navy's only woman line flag officer (at that time), served as the guest speaker during a ceremony at Luce Auditorium inaugurating Personnel Support Activity, March 30, 1978. The new command had three branches: one in building 202, one at RTC and one at Fleet Antisubmarine Warfare Training Center. The establishment of the PSA reflected the consolidation of all pay and personnel functions under one command. Cmdr. Beth F. Coye became the first commanding officer and Master Chief Yeoman John F. Comola, the first command master chief.

The most decorated recruit company up to 1971 graduated with a record 15 flags and three trophies. Company 144 graduated on June 25. 1971 with the Military, Academic and Athletic Efficiency Awards, the first time one company carried all three. The company scored 3.213 academic points out of 4.0, 96.40 military points out of 100 and won five sports championship trophies out of seven. The military and academic efficiency awards were given to the company that won all weekly awards available in either category in competition with other companies in its training group. The athletic efficiency award was given when a company won at least five of seven sports events in its sports weekend compe-tition.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson was the recipient of the American Spirits M Award when he graduated on July 1970. He was the recruit chief officer of company 288 and received the award for best expressing American spirit: honor, loyalty initiative. Jackson then attended Hospital Corpsman School.

The RTC recruit drill team began in the 70s. The new drill team joined the Drum and Bugle Corps, the State Flag Team and the Bluejacket Choir each week on Preble Field to offer a salute to graduating recruits, The first performance was June 7, 1974.

Sweeping changes in the structure of boot camp began in 1972. For the first time in almost 50 years, the changes emphasized apprenticeship training in addition to the traditional military requirements of boot camp.

During these changes, recruits underwent five days of processing, five weeks of training and one service week to complete the basic training cycle. Any student scheduled for “A” school then left RTC for their new service school. The remaining recruits had 13 additional days of specialized instruction in the seaman fireman apprentice rating. Airman apprentice training was in Memphis Tenn. until November 1972, when it joined the seaman and fireman progrsm here. By September training was again increased seven to nine weeks to give additional physical training and personal instruction and guidance. The change allowed for an increase in the in-processing time for recruits, allowing each Sailor more time and opportunity to complete his required miilitary paper work.

The increase lasted five years. In 1977 recruit training was cut to eight weeks and furher reduced to seven weeks three daysdays by Octo-ber 1, 1978. The changes were cost effective measures designed to reduce redun-dancy in training.

Fifty years after the initial commissioning ceremony, a gala event commemorating that historic day. Then California Governor Ronald Reagan was the official guest at the special Golden Anniversary Recruit Brigade review on Preble Field. The NTC band and the all recruit Drum and Bugle Corps, 50 State Flag Team and the Bluejacket Choir performed

During his speech, Regan spoke to the new Sailors saying“…I’m sure many of you will continue and this will be your career .. this nation has defended freedom in every corner of the world for 200 years with a mixture of career soldiers and seamen .. by being in uniform you are doing more to preserve peace than all of those who are preaching their demagogic word from podiums today, who are demonstrating in the name of peace, or those who have chosen to leave the boundaries of this country and go somewhere else because of their resistance to this.."

Following his speech, Reagan presented the American Spirit Honor Medal to the top recruit of the ceremony, Constructionman Apprentice Stephan M. Noonan of Company 119.

The day was highlighted by a visit from a recruit who was in the first company in 1923. Retired Navy Chief Radioman William H. (Wait) Winchell was in company A-1 and arrived at NTC around June 18, 1923. He spent three weeks in "Detention Camp" and attended Radioman "A" school. Almost 50 years later, he returned as a special guest and toured the facilities.

In 1975, President Gerald Ford visited NTC, the first president to visit since Franklin Roosevelt. Ford visited and had dinner in the galley with 900 recruits. The president made a big hit with the recruits when he granted them a "24-hour amnesty" from the rigors of boot camp saying "I understand that here at NTC you've organized a third party-the marching party.'

"As I'm sure you know, I don't think too much of third parties, so by virtue of the powers vested in me as commander-in-chief, I hereby order the marching parties for tonight be canceled." Ford then ordered all “short tours” - demerit-reducing session in which recruits exercise with rifles-be canceled for the following day.

After 900 recruits cheered, Ford cut a compound cake and ordered piece be delivered to every recruit a racks.

The commissary, located in building 1 opened for the first time in 1971 The building was the site of galley 1 in John Paul Jones Court. The galley was remodeled to include 16,000 square feet of floor space and was constructed through the efforts of self-help military personnel at no cost to taxpayers.

The 51-year-old NTC Navy Band was renamed "Navy Band San Diego" in May, 1974 when the band fell under the control of the Eleventh Naval District, The band remained at NTC for all future recruit graduations and military functions until 1996 when it moved to Naval Air Station, North Island because of NTC's closure.

The North Chapel received a Rodger's Classic 250 organ in August, 1977. The organ had 127 speakers, each with its own 15-watt amplifier. The amplifiers gave the system a total power rating of 1905 watts. The organ also had 407 metal and wooden pipes that were painstakingly installed by hand. The organ cost $50,000 and was paid for with donations from the congregation an money raised by the Bluejacket Choir.

The recruit reception building was completed in late 1978. Building 557 was a two-story, $5 million project designed to consolidate the number of recruit processing functions such as haircuts, ditty bag issue, clothing issue, medical and dental. The 92,000 square-foot facility was able to process more than 2000 recruits at one time.

Construction on the sailing marina at building 549 began in October, 1974. The previous marina was pier 445, built in 1923, located adjacent to Preble Field at the end of Cushing Road. This pier only had 14 slips available and could not accommodate larger boats, which were required to lower their masts to passage under the low Camp Nimitz and Harbor Drive bridges.

The new marina was initially a 40-slip facility, and remained NTC’s marina until 1989 when construction began on the present facility (building 606). The chief petty officers took over 549 and turned it into a club. In 1996 it became a coffee shop and deli. A dock complex with 34-slips was built adjacent to 549.

Building 606, completed in 1991, eased the increasing demand on the sailing program, and the long waiting list for slips. In 1995, during the America's Cup, the name changed to the Navy Sailing Center, Point Loma. The entire marina facility along with 549 will become part of Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center after NTC closes.

For the first time, a foreign Navy operated a building at NTC In 1978, the Saudi Arabian government spent more than $2 million to renovate quarters and other training spaces at NTC. Building 175 became the Saudi bachelor's quarters for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. Sailors from the Saudi Navy were at NTC to study various seaman programs, attend radioman and electronics schools and work with their American counterparts.

Like the meningitis outbreak of 1903, another medical epidemic occurred when a hepatitis outbreak quarantined 135 recruits, two company commanders and two SSC students during October and November, 1974. The outbreak turned out to be a very minor form of the highly contagious Type 'A" hepatitis. Because of the outbreak, Recruit Brigade Review and graduation ceremony scheduled for Oct 11, 1974, was canceled. Blood chemistry and urinaly-sis tests were taken on 560 recruits who were supposed to graduate to determine if they would be released on post-graduation leave.

The cause of the outbreak was eventually traced to an infected recruit who worked in the galley and handled food in early September. This type of hepatitis had an incubation period of one month. The first case was reported on October 4.

More than 17,000 Injections of immune serum globulin was administered to active duty, civilian employees and the dependents of hospitalized recruits. By November 1, 26 recruits were released and no new cases were reported.

Eventually, all infected personnel returned fit for duty to complete their training or return to work.

In 1979, a group of Navy women attended schools at SSC especially designed to prepare them for shipboard life. The received training in shipboard firefighting, damage control and leadership management. Following training the women became the first women to report to' Samuel Gompers (AD-37)

In sports, NTC played host to the annual All-West Coast Boxing Tournament in 1970. The tournament was a regional meet where the winners went to the All-Navy Finals. Boxers fro the Eleventh Naval District took hom five of the 11 championship trophies.

NTC took the Eleventh Naval District softball crown July 26, 1978. The team beat the Submarine Support Facility team, 10-4; USS. Alamo, 12-1; and Naval Air Station Miramar; 7-5 during double elimination tournament play. NTC's team, the Paulette Pachyderms, was coached by John Paulette, an old-timer who played for the AlrPac softball team in the late 1940s.

NTC also won the Eleventh Naval District Varsity Basketball Championship in February 1979. NTC defeated Naval Station, 72-67; NAS North Island, 98-92; and NAS Miramar 60-56. SurfFac went on to win the overall title the following week.

NTC sharpshooters won first place in the Eleventh Naval District shooting competition held in September, 1979. NTC Sailors won both the rifle and pistol competition and Chief Petty Officer Mike Gorchinski, the team captain, took national honors with the individual rifle crown. He later won the long range rifle championship against some of the nation's best sharpshooters.

A dimmer switch shorted in The Crow's Nest, NTC's petty officers' club, and sparked a fire that gutted most of the club, Feb. 3, 1979. The club was located in building 193 and damage, mostly from smoke, was estimated at $250,000. Some instruments belonging to the Navy Band were damaged when the fire spread to the second floor band room. The club reopened after one month of renovations.

NTC Sailors were always at the center when help was needed during emergencies. When a huge mobile home park fire broke out in Alpine in October, 1970, NTC Sailors came to the rescue sending volunteer firefighters and several SSC Sailors to assist in combatting the fire. The Sailors used water from a swimming pool and fought 40-foot flames.

The Navy was quick to respond to a national tragedy that happened in NTC's backyard. On Sept. 25, 1978, a Pacific Southwest Airline flight crashed in San Diego's North Park section. NTC Sailors sprang to action to assist in the cleanup of the wreckage. PSA wanted to remove the debris from the North Park neighborhood as quickly as possible, and that task was accomplished thanks to NTC's efforts. NTC responded by sending 24 men from the Transient Department. Twenty-four Sailors also went to a General Dynamics hanger to help reconstruct the aircraft as parts were removed.

The Vietnam conflict ended, America's bicentennial came and passed and the seventies ended without much change. As 1980 approached, Sailors looked to the future and advancements of NTC unaware that the 80s would be the last full decade of NTC.


Continue to the 1980s