So there I was on a summer day in 1988. I was sitting in front of a Navy recruiter deciding what I wanted to do for the next few years of my life. Because of my color vision, the jobs I wanted were off the table. The recruiter was giving me three choices, none of which were appealing.
In retrospect, I should have thanked him for his time and excused myself with the words, "It looks like the Navy has nothing to offer me at this time."
If I had done that, he probably would have replied, "Wait a minute son, let me check the computer again." He would have found the opening for the journalism school I wanted.
I didn't realize it at the time, but I held all the cards.
... I signed up for the Seaman Apprentice school for the shortest enlistment they offered at the time - three years active duty.
In that moment, I had decided the Navy would not be my career. I would do my time, get out, and go to college.
I phoned my dad and told him I had enlisted. He left his office in Monterey Park and drove to the MEPS station in Los Angeles. He watched as I raised my right hand and swore to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic.
I had mixed emotions as I spent the last few weeks at home. I attended going away parties with friends and a guy at my church tried to talk me into changing to the Air Force (no thanks). My sort-of girlfriend, Barbara, cried a little. My mom cried more. My recruiter gave me a list of items to bring with me (running shoes, stamps, my driver's license, and a little money) and prohibited items (tobacco, drugs, and alcohol). I packed my bag and went to sleep.
Very early the next morning, my recruiter was waiting outside in a van.