Why I served is an ongoing series that highlights local veterans and their stories presented by Warriors Entrepreneurs Network. This week, we met Doug Clayton, Navy.
Name: Doug Clayton
Active Service: 1978-1982
• Why did you pick the service branch you joined?
I think it was because all the men in my family had chosen the Navy in the past. It was the branch that was talked about the most.
• Tell me about your boot camp/training experience(s)
I was one of the lucky ones — I was sent to San Diego California for my boot camp experience. San Diego was broken in to two sections, the first stop was processing you in, haircuts, uniform assignments and your first night in the barrack’s.
The first several weeks were tougher than I thought they would be, mainly because doing pushups on hot pavement left your hands blistered. The tops of your ears roasted off a few times while learning how to march.
After that first few weeks you learn what is expected of you. After graduation I was off to Treasure Island San Francisco for Damage Control “A” school, this was the first of several courses to prepare me for my “HT” Rate as a Hull Technician. Fire Fighting and Ship Repair was my primary job description, this included maintenance of the fire systems, high pressure steam systems as well as the CHT systems.
I concluded my training back in San Diego with “C” school certifying me with the appropriate welding skills to be assigned a duty station.
• Where exactly did you go?
I was assigned to the U.S.S. MT BAKER stationed in Goose Creek Charleston S.C. We were moored at the Weapons station on the river with the Submarines.
• Tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences
Every minute we were underway! Nothing like it — you worked an eight hour shift plus watches and flight quarters. It did not leave a lot of time for sleep but you were never without something to do. I completed 3 Mediterranean tours and went through the Suez Canal twice and across the Arctic Circle once both were very memorable.
• What did you do when on leave?
Leave was for the states, I mostly went home on leave. We were only at the base for two or three months a year so you spent time with the family when you had the chance.
• Where did you travel while in the service?
We ported all over the Mediterranean, France, Spain, Italy.
• Do you recall the day your service ended?
I enlisted in May 1978 at the age of 17 and was honorably discharged on May 2, 1982.
• What did you do in the days and weeks afterward?
I headed to Florida to go to work. My first job out of the Navy was building Custom hitches for U-Haul.
•What did you go on to do as a career after your service?
After a few job changes I ended up working for Bell South Mobility selling Cellular phones in Atlanta.
I found I had a talent for sales and I worked my way through several positions in the sales department. While I was there I went back to school and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Management. I finished my carrier working in the Sales Compensation Group managing the Compensation systems and web processing tools Cingular Warless.
• How did your service and experiences affect your life?
Making the decision to enlist in the Navy changed my life. Before I joined I did not understand what responsibility was, what it meant for you to count on someone and them count on you.
We had dangerous jobs at time and everyone was expected to pull their own weight. Each job depended on the other to work well together while landing crafts on the flight deck or fighting a fire in the forward generator compartment. That intensity and dedication follows you through life.
• Is there anything you would like to add that we have not covered in this interview?
Do you feel that your military experience prepared you or helped you for entrepreneurship? If so how did it prepare/help you?
I know my military experience helped me in my business. While I was in the Navy I was only 19 years old and I was the leading Petty Officer in my department, managing the department and the personnel gave me the confidence to take on large tasks. It prepared me to plan and develop measurements to benchmark our success.
• What advice would you give another veteran interested in entrepreneurship?
Ask questions. Don’t go it alone, use your Chambers of Commerce and community organizations to help build your business plan. And after you have a Business Plan — execute the plan and start planning again for the next phase. Never stop planning.