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Oscar Roloff: Two stories In one

Admiral Boorda's death evokes memories

Oscar Roloff by Oscar Roloff
Recently, Admiral Mike Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations, took his own life when the press had revealed he was wearing two medals to which he was not entitled.
   For years my shipmates, officers and enlisted alike, had written to me of promises the Navy had earlier made to them.
   Recruiting officials informed each new enlistee if they'd stay in uniform and retire, they would be entitled to the same medical benefits as those on active duty--at no charge. They disliked that untruthful promise.
   I recall on 14 March, 1938, when a recruiter approached my father for him to sign my entry approval. Distinctly, I heard him tell my Pop the same thing. He signed.
   Of course, the broken promise included me. For three years, I, too, as a recruiting official, told the enlistees the same thing.
   Last year, I wrote to Admiral Boorda, asking him to seek a remedy to the broken promise. Complaints kept arising.
   In so many words, his indifferent reply was to write to the Congress. Now Boorda's dead, caused by apparent deceit.
   Most readers aren't aware that those who retire from the military and have a war disability cannot draw both.
   In my case, I've been honorably retired from Naval Service for nearly 40 years and don't draw one red cent in retirement pay. Oh well, the heck with it. I get along.

Famous WW II naval officer succumbs

Admiral Arleigh Burke

The famous WW II naval hero Admiral Arleigh Burke has commanded his last ship. I knew him well as a gung-ho, go-get-'em fellow.
Photo courtesy of Oscar Roloff.

   The other day, retired Admiral Arleigh Burke died. He was an old friend of mine. During WW II, he commanded a number of warships (named destroyers and often "tin cans" because of their being fragile and easily wrecked).
   A fabulous character, the gung-ho officer knew how to get top speed out of his tin cans. No one knew that they'd reach 31 knots or more, but Burke did. While preparing for battle, he'd up his warships to 31 knots and more. Proudly hailed by his men and feared by the enemy, into battle he'd charge and come out victorious.
   I recall another time, a postwar incident where the admiral and I flew from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia to attend a nautical convention where he was the featured speaker and I represented the Navy press.
   Upon disembarking from the plane, we boarded a long limousine and with a police escort, we sped through town to the hotel. As sirens sounded and cars stopped, people saw the admiral and waved and shouted to him. They probably wondered who was the other fellow.
   Anyhow, I kept thinking that it sure beats staying on the farm and milking cows and slopping the hogs.
   Thus those are my fond recollections of a naval hero.