Today’s blog post is an interview with one of my favorite people, Sherry Terry. I’m grateful to know Sherry. She promotes me and my work on a regular basis and I feel like I have my own personal cheering squad. She also happens to be one of my favorite Navy veterans, It turns out that Sherry and I served in the Navy around the same time and I even spent a week training on the base she was stationed on. NAS Miramar is located in the beautiful city of San Diego and is the very location where the movie Top Gun was filmed. Too bad Sherry and I didn’t know each other back then. We would’ve stirred up a lot of excitement.
Sha Renée: Thank you for taking the time to share your experience in the military with us!
Sherry Terry: Thank you for inviting me to participate in your blog tour, Sha. What an honor!
Military personal have a special bond with each other unlike anything else on Earth. I’m honored to be a part of that. I’m so proud of all of us every time someone thanks me for my service. I was on active duty during a brief time in history, the early 80’s when things were more relaxed, and Vietnam was still on everyone’s mind.
Sha Renée: What influenced your decision to join the military?
ST: I had graduated from high school and was heading nowhere fast, dating the wrong guy, and hanging out with the wrong people. My parents sat me down and said, “Go in the Navy or else!” Less than a month later, I was in Pensacola Florida for boot camp. Through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Sha Renée: Why did you and your parents choose that branch?
ST: It seemed the safest if the country went to war. I’m not a runner or into physical activity, and the Navy had the least amount of “humping” once out of boot camp. I didn’t want to carry a gun, and my parents wanted to keep me as safe as possible.
Sha Renée: How long did you serve in the Navy?
ST: I served for four years. Honorably discharged with a one month old baby. I was able to spend my last 30 days on active duty on maternity leave. I did the whole ritual of putting my “cunt cap” (better known as a garrison cap) on top of my boots in formation on the last day. I hid around the corner and watched. The Commanding Officer asked, “Who is that supposed to be.” The entire squadron replied with my name. It was awesome.
Sha Renée: Tell us about your travels. Where did you serve?
ST: I went to Florida for boot camp, Mississippi for A-school, and spent the rest of my enlistment in San Diego California. I traveled around the United States with an F-14 Squadron for ten days at a time on deployments for the pilots to train against other pilots. When my tour ended in San Diego, I received orders to Florida. Two weeks before I was set to leave President Reagan decided everyone in the military would stay where they were. No one received any new orders for over a year. I spent my entire naval career on the same base in San Diego California. I was stationed on the base during the same time the movie Top Gun was filmed. Although I didn’t get to meet Tom Cruise, I did meet Clint Eastwood when the movie Firefox was filmed.
Sha Renée: What was your rating? Can you give us a description?
ST: I was an Aviation Storekeeper. Each shop in the squadron turned in a list of supplies, and I made sure they got them. Parts, office supplies, tools, anything within the system.
Sha Renée: What a coincidence! The training I did on your base in San Diego was Material Management. I wanted to be an AK also, but I ended up getting out before that could happen.
What was the most significant achievement of your career?
ST: Being one of the first women ever to serve on an aircraft carrier during flight operations. The USS Ranger. For ten days I lived on the ship with 24 other women and 2,500 men. The powers that be insisted we be escorted by an armed guard for our safety, and two sat at our barracks door 24/7.
Sha Renée: one of the first women on a carrier! That’s exciting! I always wished I’d had the opportunity to serve at sea. I hear the flight deck is one of the most exciting and most dangerous places to be.
ST: The experience was amazing, the danger of the flight deck, the cramped quarters, the food, the noise… When a plane lands, the entire ship vibrates. When they catch the wire, the sound of screeching fingernails on a blackboard is amplified times ten.
They didn’t really need me in any job capacity on the ship, it was more for the experience, so I was allowed to hang out with the pilots for most of the day. They had it made compared to the enlisted on the ship.
Sha Renée: Were you awarded any special honors or medals?
ST: No. I wasn’t a bad kid, but my mouth did tend to overload my butt, and I’m famous for cutting off my nose to spite my face. I grew tired of being the only person in a 2,500 person squadron that knew how to do jet plane inventories. After having to stay three hours late to inventory an F-14 every day for a week, I revolted and went AWOL for a few days. As a result, I was restricted to the base for twenty days (reduced to ten for good behavior), and I couldn’t receive a good conduct medal. So What! I won. Everyone had to train for jet plane inventories after that – every single person.
Sha Renée: So what mattered to you more was the point you were making… 2,500 sailors and only 1 who could perform a particular job doesn’t sound fair or like a wise use of human resources.
What’s the best thing about being in the service?
ST: The work was easy, the pay was steady, and there was a lot of fun to be had by all. Every three months new, fresh-out-of-flight-school pilots arrived for their flight suit fitting. They had to hang from the ceiling to make sure their thigh cuffs didn’t pinch the wrong places. It became a ritual with us women, and the only time the sexual harassment was reversed. Cat calls, scorecards, pointing… We did it all.
Sha Renée: Pretty much all the female friends I knew in the Navy would agree: There’s nothing like the sight of an aviator in a flight suit!
What’s the worst thing about being in the service?
ST: The politics. You couldn’t just call in sick, you had to go to work. Doing FOD (foreign object damage) walk-down with a bad hangover. We walked the flight line every morning, picking up anything that could be sucked into a jet intake.
Sha Renée: I remember FOD walk-down, our All-Hands daily morning routine – protecting our planes while engaging in a little chit chat with buddies.
Do you have any interesting memories to share?
ST: I have one memory that will narrow down my naval career and what my superiors had to deal with. I wasn’t a bad kid, I just liked to be the class clown. What’s the big deal? It was during peace time in the early 80’s.
When I went AWOL, I had to go before the Captain for disciplinary action, a Captain’s Mast. I had to come with a full sea bag. This means if you don’t have everything on a list, you go shopping for all the stuff they issued you in boot camp. Cost me about $500.
The powers that be made the mistake of sending a friend of mine to escort me around – in case I tried to run. We had a great time, spent the day together, shopping, lunch, drinks, the works. On the list was seven pairs of white underwear. During the Captain’s Mast, I thought I would take everything out and show the Captain that I had it all, so as a joke I bought the biggest pairs I could find. Like circus big. Once in the Captain’s office, he did not want to see what was in my sea bag. I was disappointed. Then I realized the circus underwear were the only ones I had for the next ten days.
Sha Renée: I’m not laughing AT you; I’m laughing WITH you.
What do you miss most about being in the military?
ST: Not. One. Thing. I have some fun memories, but once I had children I didn’t want to move around every couple of years.
Sha Renée: What are your feelings about women in the military?
ST: I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to serve. If a woman wants to serve in the military, she should do it. There are so many different jobs and opportunities for women today that were not available to me.
Sha Renée: Let’s talk about your writing. What do you write?
ST: I write romance/erotica. My passion is historical romance.
Sha Renée: Does your military service influence your writing in any way?
ST: It has been so long since I was active duty and things have changed so much, it no longer has much of an influence in my life. A few things have stuck, but they have nothing to do with my writing. I’m always on time, I still hang all my shirts with the left sleeve out, and I still eat with both hands on the table in under fifteen minutes.
Sha Renée: Thank you for sharing your amazing memories with us… and thank you for your service!
ST: This was so much fun! What a special trip down memory lane. Thank you, Sha.
Here’s how you can connect with Sherry Terry:
Blog – www.verysherryterry.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/verysherryterry