JOHNSTON, Iowa — WHO 13’s Roger Riley recently took a trip through the Gold Star Museum and down memory lane with Jay Southward, an Iowa native and US Navy veteran who served in Vietnam.

“I joined in 1967 right out of high school,” says Southward, “I went to Great Lakes Naval Training Station -I did my boot camp there. I got a rate as a damage controlman – they call them hall techs now. I went to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to do my training at the DC school there.”

From there, Southward headed to southeast Asia where he served about the USS Ticonderoga.

“Fire oppression, we had to deal with watertight integrity,” Southward says, “All your doors on a ship have a rubber gasket in it so compartmenst become water tight by closing the door. It has what we called him dogs – which are handles – so that was part of our jobs to make sure the rubber was in good shape. We also dealt with the armored hatches up on deck which were counterbalance with big springs. You’re taking a one ton hatch and lifting it up with one hand because of the counter balance.”

While on the Ticonderoga, Southward was on-duty six days per week.

“We were up in Zone Four, Tonkin Gulf up in north Vietnam. We would fly five missions six days a week and then we take Sundays off sometimes Saturdays just to relax and enjoy things. But most the time for six days 24 hours a day six days a week they were launching planes and recovering planes day and night. 700 and some odd thousand tons of ordinance they would drop.”

Southward says the Navy helped him develop as a young man.

“It gave me direction, confidence, as a young boy. I was not very confident, I was shy with people,” Southward says, “It taught me discipline as far as your dress taking care of your dress called a gig line cleaning up your shirt with your trousers are taking care of your clothes taking care of your fellow seamen

After leaving the Navy, Southward drove a truck for 46 years. He retired in June 2021.