With about two weeks to go in school, I was confident that I was going to be posted to work at the Long Beach Naval Hospital. My grades were good and I had a 96 grade point average, one point more than I needed to secure the duty station of my choice. The final exam was the only thing that might derail those plans; or so I thought.
I took the final exam and thought I had done well. I really wasn’t worried. The next day I joined the crowd at the bulletin board where the scores were posted; along with those scores were the names of our new duty stations. I think I received a 98 on the exam. And then I looked at the words to the right of my score. U.S. Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. What?
The short story was the fact that the other Hospital Corps School, the one in Great Lakes, Michigan, had suffered a measles outbreak and all of their graduates were quarantined. San Diego had to supply all of the necessary Corpsmen for the entire Navy that month. There was nothing to be done about it.
I took a week of leave and went home to prepare for a new job in a part of the country that was completely foreign to me. But hadn’t I joined the Navy to see the world? At the end of the week, I set out…with two others, to see just what this new job was going to be like.