Vietnam Navy vet, Ron Lamb, had the best job on the ship

August 26, 2014

ron_lamb_navy_vietnamThe traveling Vietnam Memorial will be on display in Ludington City Park Thursday through Sunday with ceremonies beginning Wednesday afternoon. We are honoring Vietnam veterans through brief biographies of local vets who served.

By Kate Krieger. MCP Senior Correspondent.

From 1966-1969, Ron Lamb of Hamlin Township served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. Ron was born and raised in West Virginia and attended college and then decided that he was going to join the service. Looking to become an officer in the Navy, Ron left for Naval Station Great Lakes near Chicago to start his military career.

“I knew the draft was coming,” Ron said. “I wanted to go into the officer training program.”

Ron stated that leaving for Illinois was the first time he had ever been on a train or an airplane. He arrived in January and said that it was very cold and wintery. After being there for a short period of time, hundreds of fellow new recruits were flown to the training center from the sister training center in San Diego due to an outbreak of meningitis.

“They had shorts and t-shirts on,” Ron said. “They really had nothing on to keep them warm.”

Since he enlisted after graduating from college, Ron was one of the older recruits at the training center, which in a way seemed to work in his favor. Because of his college education, he was able to land a job later on as a paymaster clerk, which meant he kept track of all the payroll and when sailors were coming and going from the ships.

“It was the best job on the ship,” he said. “It really was a good position to be in.”

Ron served on two different ships during his time in the military, both stationed out of San Diego, Cali.

He first served on the John R Craig DD885 and then on the USS Braine DD630. After several months serving on the John R Craig, Ron was ready to look into becoming an officer. He went through all the paperwork and interviews that needed to be completed before being accepted in the training, but when it really came time to start the training, he had a change of heart.

“I asked, ‘How long is this going to take?’,” he said. They told me I’d be in for three years, not including the training.”

He told them he wasn’t going to complete the training after all, that he would give everything he had into the time he had left in the Navy, but it just wasn’t what he really wanted for the rest of his life.

“I didn’t want to make the Navy my career,” he said. “I really wanted to do other things when I got out.”

During his entire time in the Navy, Ron never set foot on shore in Vietnam, but his ship was involved in different situations. When action arose, he was a forward gun mount, where he was in charge to monitoring the guns that were firing upon the enemy. Someone else controlled the guns, but he would stand by them to make sure no problems occurred while they were in action.

When Ron wasn’t in and around different Vietnam waters, his ships would be traveling all around to stock up on supplies and to complete trainings. He got the opportunity to visit places like Hong Kong, Australia, Samoa, Korea and Yokusuka, Japan, where he went quite often during his time in the Navy.

Ron was discharged in 1969 as a second-class petty officer, which is seen as a sergeant, he said. There were many ups and downs serving, especially during times when his ship was involved in the different situations at hand.

“I treated being in the Navy like a low paying job,” he said. “Some times were enjoyable and some times were pure hell.”

Ron said he is very excited about the Vietnam Traveling Wall coming to Ludington. He said he feels it is something everyone should experience, especially since it will be local without having to travel to Washington D.C.

“I think it’s great,” he said.

The wall will be installed at the Ludington City Park from Wednesday, August 27 and will be on display through Sunday, August 31.

Ron said he will be one of the veterans who will be volunteering at the wall as a way to give back and to support those who have served and who are currently serving in the United States military.

“I am happy to volunteer,” he said. “I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

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