In Dad's Own Words

In 2009, Dad was interviewed and featured sharing some of his military experiences for the KPBS documentary, "San Diego's DNA: Military Roots."  The show aired in June 2009.  Click below to check Dad out for yourself:

In the Words of Lt. Dwight Turner

This speech was delivered during Dad's Retirement Ceremony, November 3, 1995-- we couldn't have summed up Dad's military career better than this!

I would like to welcome Chief Rodriguez’s wife, Edith, and his daughters Evelyn and Vicky, other family members, friends, shipmates, and fellow SIMA crewmembers.
I’d like to start with a quote from one of my favorite writers, “The best stories are true stories, the real stories about real people.”
I was honored when Chief Rodriguez asked me to speak at his retirement. I think anyone who has worked with BTC Rodriguez will know that he is a highly faithful and honest man and would fully appreciate his hard work ethic. I am sure his family would say the same things.


This is a brief story about Chief Petty Officer Rodriguez who hails from the Naga City area. His father was a vet of WWII and spent time in the US Army in the Defenders of Bataan and in the Corregidor Resistance Movement. You see service to country and honor were in Chief Rodriguez’s blood.
Chief Rodriguez’s story begins during a typical hot, humid day in the Philippines in 1974 just as the Vietnam conflict was ending not too far across the Pacific.
Young Vicente Rodriguez III received his calling card to take a written test for entering the US Navy in October 1974 in response to a picture and form submission he had sent in five years earlier. He had attended the College of Marine Engineering and had left to work in an advertising agency when he received his card. A boiler technician in an ad agency… go figure. In the late part of October, he passed the entrance exam and the interview and was subsequently ordered to take the physical examination. He was in a group of 20 or so that had screened through over 150 personnel. He told me an interesting story about his first run-in with the real Navy. He was taken on a tour ride by a nice BMC around Subic Naval Station in a van and at the end he was dropped off at the gate. The BMC told him not to return and that due to complications he wasn’t going to come in the Navy.  Young Vicente said, "Yes I am," and proceeded to talk back to this BMC. That’s a good idea, you asked?  Well, as it turns out, this was a screening action to see if he could think on his feet and stand up to adversity.


Finally, after all this confusion (which was a very good introduction to the Navy), he was sworn in to the United States Navy and was ordered to carry 25 service records and accompany some other gentlemen to the UNITED STATES. He was introduced to cold and rain after a long flight on World Airlines through Yakota, JA and Seattle airports which ended in Travis AFB. Cold barracks, rain and no heat awaited him. He arrived in San Diego about a month later to begin Boot Camp already in uniform and with short hair. The other boots wondered who this group of other guys was already in their blues and with short hair. They thought Vicente and his friends were already in the Navy. Little did they know this group had been running around with a 1/3 of a seabag and no ID. Just a piece of paper and a set of service dress blues like the ones I have on, and a combination cover. This was Zumwalt’s navy.
Well, FN Rodriguez made it through boot camp, and left to go on to a BTA school in January of 1975. He was in the accelerated A School and completed it in 21 days with a score above 95. He was in a special program due to the critical undermanning of BTs in the Navy. He was catapulted to Petty Officer 3rd when he got to his first ship. I guess the advertising agency really helped out in a school. Probably more like Marine Engineering.
After A School he went home in April of 1975. He and his girlfriend Editha decided to get married. After a lot of red tape due to President Marcos’ martial law, his friend and family hooked the young couple up and they were married and traveled to USS Pearl Harbor, where he reported to the USS Goldsborough (DDG 20).
The Goldsborough had just got out of the yard for repairs after it was hit in the Tonkin Gulf in Vietnam by Viet Cong artillery. Young Petty Officer Rodriguez inherited an almost brand new ship. He quickly got qualified up to burnerman. By default, he became an Oil King.  At that time, no one on his ship scored high enough to become an Oil King. Once again, BT3 Rodriguez achieved academic excellence by scoring higher than 90. He was also given a Christmas gift two days early. On December 23, 1975, his daughter Evelyn was born. Obviously, he and Editha had wasted no time. They had achieved parental excellence.
He spent one more year on the Goldsborough and he was off to the brand new frigate, USS Robert E. Perry (FF 1073). He liked this ship, he could stay in the oil lab and get his samples. Air conditioning always feels good to a Boiler Technician. This ship was also in Pearl Harbor and the CO wore shorts and rode a bike to work. The CO’s philosophy was: the ship was new and after the crew finished their work, he didn’t want them “hanging around and dirtying it up.” Sounds like my kind of philosophy!
He next went to USS Dixie (AD 14) which was already 41 years old in 1978. He fortunately was sent to Repair Department where he worked in the Boiler Jet crew which was then new technology. While on the USS Dixie, his 2nd daughter, Vicky was born on October 28, 1978.
After a tour of the Indian Ocean and Diego Garcia in support of ships engaged in the Iranian Revolution operations, he left in 1980 for a tour at SIMA in the boiler shop. SIMA had just switched names from DATC FMAG. He spent three years from 1980-1983 at SIMA. In 1983, he transferred from SIMA and in transit he was at the Temporary Personnel Unit over in Coronado. He found out that he had made Chief and was duly initiated with fifty Sea Bees and various other rates. He said he had never shined so many shoes in his life. He thought they must have found every pair of shoes on the base…including some that smelled like they had been worn way too long!


Chief Rodriguez next reported to the USS Point Defiance (LSD 31) which decommissioned nine months later. He was promptly sent to USS Thomaston (LSD 28). He left Thomaston in 1984 and promptly reported to Main Space Number 2 onboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the Leading Chief. After a lot of underway time and two deployments from 1984-1986, he left and went to USS Meyerkord (FF 1053). He must have really like sea duty and sea pay. The Meyerkord was a real challenge, seeing as the ship failed an OPPE just two weeks after he reported. After a lot of hard work, the ship passed and deployed. He left Meyerkord in 1988 and was on to SIMA Long Beach where he worked until 1990.
He left for USS Okinawa (LPH 3) in 1990 where he was the only BTC. He said this was his favorite tour because of the combat conditions in the gulf during Desert Storm and the feeling of actually accomplishing a real mission.
Today, after 21 years of seeing the world, ten commands, eight deployments, and meeting and serving with hundreds of shipmates, he can be proud of his distinguished career and retires as a Chief Petty Officer. It’s about time you retired. All of the ships you served on have been decommissioned with the exception of the USS Kitty Hawk, and she’s on the list.
You’ve come a long way from your artistic career at the advertising agency. You’ve been blessed with a wonderful and loving wife, Editha, and two daughters, Evelyn and Vicky. Today, you end one career and look forward to your next career.
I’d like to say a couple of personal things now:


This is from the Division Officer’s Guide, “Most of your men will be young and even junior petty officers these days are not old salts. Senior petty officers are likely to be men of some years, substance, and experience; and they provide a special challenge. These men are your juniors in rank, but of course, have a wealth of professional knowledge that you must recognize and profit by. Accord them the same special ‘trust and confidence’ that you would expect from senior officers and, above all, support them fully in public.”
Chief Rodriguez, I am proud to be here supporting you in public. You possess and demonstrate all the finest qualities in a Navy Leader. I, and your shipmates, are proud to have served with you.
Fair Winds and Following Seas.