Today’s Veteran: Allan Patterson, 79
Born: East Cleveland, Ohio
Rank: Command Master Chief
Recognitions: Navy Medal of Honor; Navy Achievement Medal with two stars and combat V, Navy Commendation Medal with 3 stars, Navy “E” Award; Medal of Good Conduct with 4 stars, Navy Expeditionary Medal; National Defense Service Medal with 1 star; Vietnam Service Medal with 3 stars; Navy sea service deployment medal with 2 stars; Republic of Vietnam with Gallantry Cross; Vietnam Campaign Medal; Expert rifle badge; Sniper pistol medal; Surface warfare specialist badge; Tug.
Duty stations: Great Lakes Naval Station; Newport Underwater Ordinance Station, RI; New London Connecticut; Guantanomo Bay, Cuba; Portsmouth NH and on board the USS New Jersey (2 times); the USS Sierra; the USS Hartley; USS Wasp; USS America; USS Blue; USS Higbee; USS Theodore E. Chandler; Constitution of the USS; USS Vesole; USS Garcia; USS Alamagordo; USS McDonnell; Service Craft PNSY, Portsmouth, NH and USS Abraham Lincoln.
His story: Allan Patterson admits he struggled as a teenager and decided to enlist in the Navy to become a heavy equipment operator. The Navy had other plans.
“I was a student from hell when I was a teenager,” he said. “I went with the flow.”
He was trained as a Boatswain’s Mate, responsible for the maintenance of the upper part of the ships on which he is to serve.
“People saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he said.
He never had time to feel homesick during training because he was busy all the time.
After basic training, he was sent to Rhode Island for underwater ordinance training. His job was to retrieve the Mark 14 and 15 torpedoes fired during training exercises and bring them back for testing.
“We’ve done a lot of work around torpedoes,” he said. “It was interesting.”
His next duty station was aboard the USS Sierra, a tender destroyer based in Norfolk, Va., Where he operated a 25 ton crane.
He chose to re-enlist after the end of his 4 year term of service because he loved his job and the places he served.
He was sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for a year, spending the first three months driving a tank truck. He described the mission as boring.
This will end when it is deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam, where it will serve on five different back-to-back ships from 1967 to 1970, including the USS New Jersey, a WWII battleship released. mothballs for war.
“They approached (the coast),” he said. “These 16-inch guns fired 2,750-pound armor-piercing shells.”
New Jersey came under fire from the mainland, but Patterson said he was not on the ship at the time.
He returned to the United States and was assigned to the USS Constitution, the Navy’s oldest ship.
“It was fantastic,” he said. “We dressed in period uniforms.
Unfortunately, the boat stayed in Boston Harbor the entire time and never set out.
His next duty station was aboard the USS Vesole, a destroyer assigned to a Mediterranean cruise, where he crossed the Arctic Circle to earn his Bluenose designation.
He completed another North Atlantic cruise aboard the USS Garcia before his next posting aboard the USS Alamgordo, a floating dry dock based in Charleston, SC
He re-enlisted for another 6-year tour and was assigned to the crew of the USS Edward McDonnell, a frigate, where he completed a tour of duty before applying to be crewed for the return to service of the USS New Jersey. The high-demand mission’s sailors were handpicked and handpicked by Defense Ministry officials.
“New Jersey was my favorite,” he said. “There is nothing like a battleship. “
He left the ship after a six week cruise that turned into a much longer deployment. Before the boat returned to Long Beach, Calif., President Ronald Regan ordered the ship to Central America for maneuvers, then New Jersey passed through the Panama Canal and headed for Lebanon, where the ship bombed Beruit for almost a year. Patterson left the boat before heading for the Middle East.
He was sent to Portsmouth, NH, where he served as a tugboat captain for over three years.
His next duty station was aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, where he conducted a simulation cruise and achieved the rank of senior chief.
He returned to Portsmouth, where he ended his 31-year career as Command Chief and Director of the Family Service Center.
He looks back on his long career with thanks for the impact his career in the Navy had on his life.
“I look at my career and the people who have helped me who have been my saviors,” he said. “They saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.”