By: Haley Taylor
Veteran Tom Stemple served in the Navy 62 years ago. The 79-year-old male currently resides in Ripley, WV.
Q: What made you join the military?
A: I was 17 years old and couldn’t find a job. By the time you turned 18 you had to sign up, so I decided to sign up a year earlier since there was a lack of careers. The Korean War was also going on at the time, and they were taking everyone they could get.
Q: How old were you when you first joined?
A: I was 17 years old.
Q: What branch of military did you serve in?
A: I served in the Navy. My job was to maintain 600 steam pressures on the water. The highest ranking I ever got was third class boiler tender.
Q: Where were you stationed?
A: I did my training in Cambridge, Maryland. I have been as far south as the equator and as far north as the north pole. I have been to Cuba 14 times and the Mediterranean six times.
Q: Were there any wars going on when you were in the service and if so what?
A: The Korean War was going on at the time.
Q: Please share a memory.
A: I have lots of keepsakes and lots of memories. I got to go back to my ship, USS New Jersey, with my wife and some of my other family members. I got to show them around and even where I worked. When I was in the service, they took a picture of me and my buddies in the place we worked, and when I went back the second time I got another picture in that exact spot. It is fun to look back at the two pictures now.
Q: How has serving affected your life outside of the military?
A: It taught me responsibility.
Q: What opportunities have the military provided that you might not have otherwise?A: I saw places I have never seen. Without the military I know I wouldn’t have gotten to see them.