Today’s veteran: John Herald, 72
Born: Eldorado, Ill.
Residence: St. Marys
Service: Navy, 32 years
Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 4
Recognitions: Meritorious Service Medal; Navy Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal; Navy Unit Commendation Medal; Good Conduct Medal; Battle “E” Efficiency Award (two times); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; Surface Warfare Officer Badge
Duty stations: Pearl Harbor; Rota, Spain; Naval Station Kings Bay; Washington, D.C.; Bainbridge, Md.; Norfolk, Va.; Pensacola, Fla.; Cecil Field, Fla.; Qunicey, Ill. and aboard the USS Casimir Pulaski; USS Simon Bolivar; USS Nevada and USS Canopus.
His story: John Herald had a strong belief a Navy career was in his future when he enlisted in the Navy Reserve in high school.
He went through basic training during summer vacation before his senior year with ambitions of being trained as a machinist’s mate. Unfortunately, there were no openings in the position and he was assigned for training as a yeoman.
He was responsible for administrative duties such as typing letters, sorting mail and other tasks.
Herald volunteered for duty aboard submarines and was assigned to the crew of the USS Casimir Pulaski, based in Rota, Spain.
He served during the Cold War, when all contact was cut off with the outside world once the vessel deployed. Sailors understood they could have a family emergency and they wouldn’t know until the returned from a 90-day deployment.
“We didn’t think about family emergencies at sea,” he said. “Back in those days you were never at home for the birth of your child. It always seemed out to work that way.”
He did four patrols on the Pulaski, alternating patrols with another crew so the boat remained at sea as much as possible as a deterrent to nuclear war. Herald said he would have preferred to be home ported in the United States because he and his crew would fly to Charleston, S.C. after each patrol and would have to return to Spain two months later to prepare for the arrival of their boat.
“I would have preferred to operate out of Charleston. I could have been going home more,” he said.
He returned to shore duty in Norfolk, Va., working in submarines operations before being assigned to the crew of the USS Simon Bolivar, another ballistic missile submarine.
In between two deployments, he was part of the crew that performed an 18-month overhaul on the vessel.
He returned to administrative duties in Charleston, where he was responsible for making sure all the boats were properly staffed.
His responsibilities continued to grow as he rose in rank. He was sent to Washington, D.C. where he was an enlisted detailer responsible for different duty assignments for the Atlantic Fleet, with as many as 7,000 constituents.
His next duty station was at Pearl Harbor, where he was assistant personnel officer for more than three years. Near the end of his tour of duty, he applied and was accepted for chief warrant officer training in Pensacola, Fla.
He was assigned to the crew of the USS Nevada, one of the new Ohio-Class submarines while it was still under construction. He was responsible for getting the materials the new crew would need once they arrived.
Before the Nevada was underway, Herald was sent to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay just in time to greet the arrival of the submarine tender USS Canopus. Besides his administrative duties during the early days at Kings Bay, he also qualified deck underway and surface warfare officer.
He worked at Trident Training Facility as administrative services officer and command security manager.
“We were still trying to get the command up and running,” he said.
His last tour of duty was at Cecil Field, in Jacksonville. where he was assigned to an F-18 aviation squadron. He even logged 10 1/2 hours flight time in the two years on the job in what was a far departure from working at Navy bases or aboard boats his entire career.
“I was ready, but it was different because it was all I had ever done,” he said of the new duty station.
The tough part of the career was leaving a job he loved. He continues to serve in the sea service as flotilla commander for the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Fernandina Beach.
“It made me what I am today,” he said. “I still have that military mindset. I have much higher expectations of myself than I would have normally had.”
Our Veterans runs Wednesdays. Contact Gordon Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 464-7655 to suggest a veteran for a column.