It was 1950, the converted LSI was plowing the waters of the Pacific, heading towards Korea, when Robert Baker, an enlisted man aboard the ship, was summoned by a Chief Petty Officer to deliver messages to the Signal Officer in the ships ward room. And, it was a moment of truth for Baker. When ushered into the ships ward room Robert became painfully aware that he had somehow been assigned to the wrong part of the ship.
The officer’s, that he was only hazily aware of during his day to day duties, were actually sitting at tables covered with linen table clothes, drinking their coffee from china cups while being served by a Philippine stewards mate.
Baker, on the other hand, was eating off of a tin tray, one deck below and under very different circumstances. Different enough, that he decided to change his circumstances, for the better.
That afternoon, Baker submitted his application for flight training with the U.S. Navy. He had always wanted to fly anyway. Baker had actually logged four or five hours a couple of years earlier during his assignment at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville Florida. He had only quit then because he could no longer afford it.
After a lot of pain, blood and about ten days in the hospital wearing a kotex under his nose, he was finished with all the formalities. Now, it was just a question of waiting for the orders to arrive.
The U.S. Navy, like any other military organization moves slowly. In this case, they didn’t move fast enough. After months of waiting, with no answer to the application, frustration set in, along with the end of his enlistment in the Navy. Not easily deterred, Baker felt it was the Navy’s loss and some other service’s gain.