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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Boot Camp Isn’t For Sissies

Growing Up the Hard Way

by Kayla Bokma
   Grade 12, Brady High School

Growing Up The Hard Way
By: Kayla Bokma
Brady High School

How many of you are brave enough to go to war? Or better yet, how many of you have the guts to endure boot camp? Well Bert Rigby of Conrad, Montana did. Bert decided that he would rather volunteer than be drafted. So in 1968 he went to the Selective Service and asked when the Navy recruiter was going to be there. Bert went to the Navy boot camp as a know-it-all 18 year old; boot camp changed that and he came out of the Vietnam War a Veteran and a grown man.
Bert thought that being in the Navy was one of the greatest experiences of his life. He said, “I don’t regret doing it, I had a blast in the Navy.” Bert also has his personal opinions on kids (18 and older) going to war. He believes that boot camp could help many boys and girls, like he was, grow up. He thinks that everyone should have that experience, to build responsibility and character.

Bert says, “It’s a lot tougher now in boot camp now than when I was in.” Bert was watching the history channel one night, about a year ago, and it showed a boot camp where the girls were just as tough as the boys. “It was a good experience and I think that every kid should have that experience,” Bert said. In Bert’s personal opinion, “We wouldn’t have half the problems in these bigger cities if all these kids had served in the military. You wouldn’t have these gangs that we have now.”
Bert went to the Navy boot camp in San Diego, California. He said that it was very difficult physically. A lot of it was a psychological game, and he also said that you have to really learn how to take and follow orders without question. Bert went on to be a Sonarc Technician. He had to go to school for almost a year to complete his training. When he was finished with his schooling he got on the U.S.S. Ozbourn. The ship’s number was DD846; it was a destroyer. When Bert was finished with the Navy in 1972 he was an E5, which would be a second-class petty officer.
Even though Bert wasn’t technically involved in any sea combat, the U.S.S. Ozbourn gave Naval gunfire support for the Marines and Army units inland. Bert’s ship was asked to come in and help blow up a cave where there were two or three Vietnamese, (North, or South Vietnamese) hiding with a rocket launcher. The launcher was enough to keep the spotter close to the cave away, and that is why they were called in. The U.S.S. Ozbourn used a 5inch 38 Caliber gun to close off the front of the cave.
Growing up is never easy for anyone, but everyone has to do it sometime. For Bert, growing up on a farm, and never having left Montana in his life, going to California on his own was a big life changer. If you think it is hard to take and follow orders from people you know, try boot camp where you don’t know anyone. Obeying whatever his commanders told him to made Bert grow up pretty quickly in a time of war, social unrest, and uncertainty.

Veteran's Data

Name of Veteran: Bertram L. Rigby
Date of Birth: 1-11-48  Place of Birth: Conrad Montana
Date of Induction:   Branch of Service: U.S. Navy  Rank at Discharge: 
Location of Interview: 
Interviewed by: Kayla Bokma

Posted by becky duty on 05/17 at 12:50 PM
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