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Interview with Patricia Louise Duwel [6/24/2003]

Lara Ballard:

Why don't we start from the beginning? When and where you born?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

I was bom October 5, 1959, in Long Beach, California.

Lara Ballard:

What did your parents do for a living?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

My mom was a homemaker and my father had been in the Navy, got stationed in Long Beach and stayed in Long Beach after he met my mom. They got married in '54.1 was bom '59. My brother was bom in '58. I'm one of two kids.

Lara Ballard:

You smiled when you said your mom was homemaker. Why did you smile?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Well, probably because she was disabled. She was in a wheelchair from the time I was probably about ten, so she really couldn't be much more than that, but I'm sure she wanted to be. It was always a kind of a joke between my brother and I was that my mom was smarter than my dad and if she hadn't have been disabled, she probably would have been a working mom way ahead of the current working moms. She was very bright.

Lara Ballard:

Was your dad at home much or was he off?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

No, he worked. He worked. As I say it was a typical family. Actually, I'd like to say, we were probably the most functional dysfunctional family. We were raised in traditional roles. My brother was always outside with my dad out in the garage leaming how to use tools. I was inside, you know, doing the dishes, leaming how to cook, doing the laundry, cleaning house, that type of thing. You know, never the twain shall meet.

Lara Ballard:

Right.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

I mean, I, myself, I enjoyed my hfe as a child. There were times when I feh slightly stigmatized by my fears in elementary school, but I didn't realize that until later. ... I know that, you'll probably get to this, because I'm sure you might ask, I wanted to get away from home as soon as I could. Because I was partly responsible for helping my mom, and I just, you know, I became sixteen, seventeen, and that wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. Anything that would get me out of the house.

Lara Ballard:

Did you go to college or was your first stop the military?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

First stop was the military. I knew that I didn't have the grades, so I felt I didn't have the grades to get a scholarship. I knew my parents weren't going to afford college. So the only college was the local community college, and for some reason I felt that it was just a glorified high school. You know, the kids that didn't go to college went to community college because there was nothing else to do, and I didn't want to do that. So I went in the military. I was in three years of high school ROTC and I thought I knew everything there was to know about the Navy. That was my ROTC program. So I wanted something different. I didn't want to go in the Army, I don't know why. I thought I'd go in the Marine Corps.

Lara Ballard:

So you were in Navy ROTC in high school. Were there a lot of high school girls in Navy ROTC?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

No.

Lara Ballard:

Were you all alone?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

No, there were about five or six girls, and then the unit had about 110...five or six in my class, I should say, that were very active. We probably had another ten or fifteen in the unit that were sort of active or just did the academic [portion].

Lara Ballard:

Was there any discrepancy between how the girls and the guys [were treated]?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

No. This was 1974 through '77, and my senior year I was probably the first female to achieve the most senior rank that I did. I actually became cadet lieutenant and in my position I was operations officer. Normally, the operations offer, the CO, the XO and the (....) bugler were what they called marching staff at half-year review, end of year review. But because I was a female, I was told I wasn't going to be allowed to be on marching staff because I was going to be in a skirt. My uniform had a slip skirt. And I told them I was willing to wear slacks. You know, I had done it before. We'd worn men's - the boys' - uniforms so we could blend in for a color guard and all this other stuff, but I was told no, I couldn't be on marching staff, and because I was short, [I was] in the tail end of the senior platoon. And here I was the third-ranking cadet in the unit. And it kind of- it hurt. I remember coming home and crying and, of course, my father, who didn't know how to handle his daughter crying was very, always - didn't know how to handle it. His way of handling it was, you know, if you're going to cry, give it some [hiaudible]. The crying didn't last long, but I was very upset. Little did I know. My dad did give me a good piece of advice, though. You know, "You've got to realize you're going into a man's world, and you can either work with it or work against it." I wasn't quite sure what he meant and I don't know if he knew what he meant, but I just took it on the surface and kind of used that off and on throughout my career at times when things, you know, might not be going so good.

Lara Ballard:

Where did you do your basic training?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Paris Island, South Carolina. It was not what I expected it to be. A female, going to Marine Corps boot camp in 1977. At that time, the Marines were still on a timeline of about 1972, '71, with the women. There weren't that many. I had joined on the delayed entry program in December of '76 and then went in August of '77. I had a very hard time in boot camp because it was not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a rough and tumble, equal opportunity, the whole bit. And it wasn't. It was totally segregated. You know, we spent three hours in the squad bay learning how to iron our shirt waves and all of our uniforms that I thought would be going out to the cleaner's. And that we'd be out on the obstacle course and learning how to fire our weapons and all this other stuff Sorry. The nasty nats. And it just took me about two or three weeks. Plus I got very homesick which it just hit me, I didn't even think about it before I left because I was so -1 just wanted to get away, I just want to go, you know. And about three weeks into [boot camp] I received a letter from home that just totally broke me. It was totally unexpected. I'd never had that happen before, you know. Because I got this letter, I started reading it, and I just started crying. I couldn't stop. And I'd never been homesick before. And I'd been away. I'd gone to summer camp. I'd done all the things, you know, I thought usual kids did, but this really got me. I remember before I went to boot camp, I had gone to Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a friend - a high school friend up in Lodi, and we had traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, meeting up with a high school friend. And these were two friends I had acquired through the ROTC program, through their mini-boot camp program. We had met in San Diego through our one-week Easter break then. And (....). Because one was going in the Army, the other was supposed to get married or something. And, when we got to Santa Fe, the person we were meeting there hooked us up with these two guys who had already been in the service and out. So you know, they were 21, and they were talking to us, and the girl who I had come out with, we were, she was going in the Army and I was going into the Marine Corps, and they were talking to both of us, and they looked at me, and they said, "You need to go in the Army. For what you think you're going to be doing, you need to go in the Army. And they told the other girl, they said, "You need to go into the Air Force for what you think you're going to be doing." And actually they probably were right because the Marine Corps wasn't anything what I thought it was. The Army at that time had started to integrate their boot camp for the women. You know, they were wearing their fatigues, running the obstacle course, shooting, qualifying with weapons. And the Marine Corps just hadn't done it. It hadn't done it.

Lara Ballard:

So just more spit and polish?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Spit and polish. Oh, my gosh, you didn't hear one cuss word out of the drill instructors, which was totally alien to me. I really expected to get called every name in the book. And granted my recruiter was honest. He flat told me he did not know what it was like for a woman in the Marine Corps. I've got to give him credit. It was just, we were women, we shall act like women, we will be treated like women. They had the male recruits working on mess hall. We didn't have the workweek. It was just so alien from what I thought it was going to be. And once I got out of boot camp, I always feU like in the Marine Corps at that time, that you couldn't, pardon the expression, wipe your nose without doing it right or wrong. I mean, they literally, everything was written down, that they told you to do everything. To jump ahead, when I joined the Navy, the Navy I always felt gave us a bit of leeway, and more individuality in the Navy in that they let you figure out what was right and what was wrong based upon their guidelines. You know, it wasn't as strict as the Marine Corps. That's not to say we didn't have a purpose. I loved the uniforms and I understood the purpose of the Marines, but I had friends coming to me later, like four or five years later, after I got out, and they asked me, "I want to go in the Marines." And I looked right at them, and said, "Do you want to be truck driver?" If you want to be a truck driver and you don't mind kind of wearing a mask, go ahead. I just didn't feel the Marine Corps was a place with someone with aspirations to be a good executive assistant, which is what I consider myself to be - someone who has skills in a lot of the different office procedures and stuff And they had me working as an aviation electrician, which I didn't know better, it was a contract. Everybody said, "Get a contract before you go in." So I got a contract. And I had a bonus, supposedly, which I didn't get. They breached my contract, so I got out. It's a long story. I think that could take a whole hour. So I got out after thirteen months. We went - I kind of hung around a year in Long Beach and went to community college to part-time classes. I worked and decided I didn't know what I was going to do other than the fact that I really did enjoy the military and I wanted to go back in. So I went down and talked to the Navy recruiter.

Lara Ballard:

Now I didn't ask you this before when you joined the Marines, but I'll do it for the Navy. How did your parents feel about you joining the military, the Marines and the Navy?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Well, my dad - my parents had to sign for me for the Marine Corps because I was 17, and I didn't feel any -1 don't know how they feh to be perfectly honest. But I do remember when I was contemplating the military the summer of '76, when my family took a trip, and they had gone back East where I have a cousin who had just basically retired from the Navy, and she had been twenty years, 22 years, I believe, or 24 years, and I think my dad said something to her. You know, it was like, "Hey, I think Patty's going into the service. I want you to talk to her and make sure she knows what's up and what's down and the facts of life. So my cousin pulled me aside, and this is actually my mom's cousin, you know, and there's a whole other story to this one. We're going to get into this, but she pulls me aside and gives me this talk and says, "You know, there's people in the military that you need to be aware of, because it can get you in a lot of trouble." And I looked at her, like, "Huh!" There's a big question mark over my head. And she says like, "Well, you know, there's some people who tend to lead - what did she say - a different lifestyle, and you just need to be careful because that's not acceptable in the military." And I remembered - a light bulb went off in my head and I remember thinking to myself, "Well, you're a hypocrite, because you're one of them." It wasn't known, but it was just one of those things that everybody knew but never talked about. That's how I felt. And I just - after that, it was like, "OK, so you gave me your story. Great, I'll be careful?"

Lara Ballard:

That was her only warning though, was about sexuality, it wasn't about [sexism]?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

That I remember. It was about 25, 26 years ago. But when I went in the Navy, I made up my mind. Now, I was engaged at the time to a high school boyfriend who had joined the Army. He was a year older than me. And, you know, I did it because it was the thing to do. All my friends were doing it, you know, so I got engaged. I was still in when we got engaged. He was in the Army. He was stationed in Germany. I was in the Marine Corps. I was still in the training pipeline. I was here, there and everywhere. And we got engaged. Then I got out and I came home. He was still in Germany. And he finally came home. He got stationed in Fort Worth, Texas. And, you know, in the back of my mind, you know, this ain't working. There just ain't nothing there. He was a sweetheart of a guy, but I would have probably taken very much advantage of him because he would have let me do anything, you know, given me the world. And I didn't want that, you know. I didn't want that. But I did want to see the world. So I decided to join the Navy. I went down and talked to the recruiter and came back and told my folks, because by then I was 20. And the first words out of my dad's mouth were, "Why didn't you join the Coast Guard?" Man! Because the Coast Guard at that time actually probably had the best program for women as far as getting them to sea because they had already integrated - they integrated their academy in '74 versus '76 because they weren't under the Department of Defense, they were under the Department of Transportation. So there was more opportunity, he saw more opportunities for women. But then he also wanted me to go to work for McDonnell-Douglas when I got out of the Marine Corps because I fi-eshly-trained aviation electrician, and I didn't want to have anything to do with that. I joined the Navy.

Lara Ballard:

Do you think there was any small part of him that was proud that you were in the Navy, having himself served?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Absolutely. You know, I can remember growing up. He'd come home fi-om work. Now, granted, he did four years active, '50 to '54 during the Korean War, and then he went into the reserves and he did another, I believe, six. He separated from the reserves in 1960,1 believe. And the reason he separated was he felt that he could devote more time to a full-time job, get better medical benefits for my mom, who was already diagnosed with a debilitating disease. And they discussed, should he stay in, and should they try to get it through the military, that type of thing. So he served his five basically. But he always was a Vet. He would always remind us of his time in the Navy, and he used to have this habit where he'd come from work, he'd get in at like 4:00, and he'd lay down on the couch and take a nap, and he'd say, "Wake me up when you make Chief" And he always said that. I didn't understand it then. I understood it later, once I joined, you know, as to the rank structure and everything. So that the day I did get selected for duty, I remember calling home, and my mom would answer the phone, and I'd ask, "What's Dad doing?" And I think she said, "He's taking a nap." I said, "Really. Well, wake his happy butt up, because I made Chief" I joined the Navy, and the recruiter again was honest. He didn't have anything - because I was being a little more savvy now. I knew what I wanted to get into. I knew that I wanted to be a yeoman, a personnel-man, a journalist or, this other one, oceanographer, and they didn't have it. And then there was one other one, and I honestly don't remember what it's called. They don't have many of them, either. Well, I waited and waited and I waited. Every week they get these knew reqs that say how many billets are open in the schools and stuff, and then finally after about four weeks he called me up and said, "You know, I have a quota per something, so you have to be at the station first thing Monday morning at like 5:00. Well 5:00 Monday morning on the West Coast is 8:00 on the East Coast, and unfortunately by the time I got to the station that Monday morning, someone on the East Coast had already snatched up this billet. It was already taken. And I remember thinking, you know, I was tired of waiting, I want to go. And I remember getting told because you don't have a contract, you can only go in for two years. I was going in as a non-designated seaman. Prior to this I was going in as an E-3. And I said that's fine, I can chip paint and swab decks and do whatever for two years - take my chances in the fleet. And I knew in 1980 that women were on tenders, and every port on the West Coast had a tender or two.

Lara Ballard:

What does that mean "on tenders"?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Tenders were support ships, repair ships. We had summary tenders and destroyer tenders. And San Diego had probably three or four. Long Beach had at least one. Up here, Alameda had two, I believe. And I really thought, you know, I'm guaranteed one of them. But because I was what they called an OSVET, other service veteran, I had to go to Great Lakes, and if you don't know. Great Lakes at that time was a male processing facility. It's for male recruits. The only female Navy boot camp was in Orlando, because they moved the women's training from Bainbridge to Orlando in 1969,1 believe. And I wanted to go to Orlando because I knew, there's no way that they could know, if it's all males, plus it was a huge school, sea school, an A school facility, what they called, you had the recruit training and you had the Naval training side. And they were sending me to recruit training side. That's where they sent all the OSVETs. And anybody coming in went to Great Lakes. And sure enough, I got up there. They told me I could drive, so I drove. Double standards, all across the boards. They didn't know what to do with the women, because there weren't that many of us. There were two in my class. We had probably 18 OSVETs in my OSVET training class, which was a four-week program. We were put in the staff ferries, given our own rooms. The guys were taken over and put in an open squad deck. Their civilian clothes were packed up and locked away. They couldn't wear them on the base. We could. The guys that drove, they weren't allowed to bring their cars onto the base. We could. There was very much a double standard. I went through those four weeks and, you know, whenever liberty call came down, I'd drive buy the guys' barracks, the guys would hop in the car. We'd head out the gate. As we were going out the gate, uniforms would be coming off, civilian clothes would be coming on. You know, you'd throw them in a bag. And the same thing would happen about a mile before the gate coming back, you know, it would be like they'd be pulling their shirts back on and putting their uniforms back on, because it wasn't fair. And I wasn't going to slight them. I'd say, "Come on, get in the car," you know. It's like, they had to park their cars way off base. They wanted to send me, I was like number two, coming out of my OSVET class, and they said the top two people get in A school. But the only A schools they had open were signalman. Which, in hindsight, I should have taken, because it would have guaranteed me a [post on a ship], but I didn't. You know, I don't want to be signalman; I want to be a journalist, personnel-man, a yeoman. So I took my chances. Well, about the second week we filled out our green sheets, and I put, "Any ship. Long Beach, Alameda." And they gave us four choices. I said, last choice was Pearl Harbor. I got Pearl Harbor. I got some command in Waihua, Hawaii, Pearl Harbor detachment. I had no clue, having never been there, this is 1980. I called my folks, because they had talked about taking a trip to Hawaii. You know, Dad's ship had pulled there back when the Arizona still wasn't a memorial, and part of the superstructure was hanging out of its dock. I told them I was going to Hawaii, so they'd better start planning their trip. So I get to Hawaii and I worked as - they started training me to be a radioman. I worked in an automated telecommunications center. A lot of paperwork. A billet came open in the front office for just general clerical and I jumped at it. I put in to go to YNA school to have my command send me to YNA school in Meridian, Mississippi - Yeoman A School - but I also was doing the fleet route just by taking the third class exam, and if you can pass it then you can get what they call designated, depending upon how high you score or actual third class payout. So I was covering all my bridges. So they sent me to YNA school, and I did it in about 13 days. It's normally an eight-week course. I didn't like Meridian. Coming from Hawaii to Meridian, Mississippi. Listen, the Hawaiian Islands, all the bases, they were having a hard time. I was given two months in the barracks and I was told I had to move out in town. They didn't have the barracks space for the permanent duty sailors on the island of Oahu at Pearl Harbor, so you were only allowed two months in the barracks and then you were told you had to find an apartment and move out into town. So they forced me to move out into town. So I did. Two of us got a house. I could kick myself because I could have bought it and it would be worth a lot of money now. Because it was up for sale, you know, but you don't think about that stuff, you know, when you're young. This comes into play later because here the Navy's forcing me to go out in town, so I have to get a set of household goods. I started acquiring stuff. Then I got stationed in San Diego. Now every time I re-enlisted, I didn't plan to do 20 years. It was each time, let's see where this goes. I only came in for two years. I made third class, then I made second class, and the person I was seeing at the time, that's a whole other story, but the person I was seeing at the time, they still had time left on their tour, on their enlistment, and they were done with their tour in Hawaii. So they got sent to a ship out of San Diego. So I said, well, let me see what I can get out of San Diego. Again, I didn't care what type of duty. It struck me to go to a ship because I was coming from shore duty in this Hawaii. So I got this helicopter squadron at North Island. Now I was a second-class yeoman. And it was so, I look it up in the command book. They have a standard Navy distribution list book. And it's not even in there. So I made some phone calls and found out this thing is brand new. It's a brand new squadron. Wow, that's cool! It's so new it doesn't have an address, other than it's at North Island. So I go to San Diego. I reenlisted for four years to go to San Diego. The person I was seeing decided they didn't like the service any more, so they got out. And - but I had fun. I really did enjoy that. There was like 80 people. No there wasn't 80 people; it was about 38 people when I stepped into this squadron. We were a pre-established helicopter squadron. I got there in August of '82 and we established in January of '83 - first of the helicopters to replace, I forget what. I didn't care, I just get all the reports. But it was fun. And again. North Island didn't have that many barracks. So anybody who wanted to live out in town initially was allowed to live out in town. So, and then I got a cat. You know, so I had an apartment, I had furniture, you know, household goods, I had a pet, and I had a great time. I made first class the first time up and I worked for a good mentor and, after I made first class, which was March of '85, this seaman pulled me aside and said, you know, he says, "You're going to hit a brick wall because yeoman are pretty well stacked at the top. So even though you've done really well and made it your first time up every time, it could take you ten years to make Chief unless you decide to go do something else?" I said, "Well, I want to be a flag writer. Go be personal secretary to some Admiral." And he said, "You don't want to do that. You can get stuck in that. That will be the rest of your career, you won't be able to get out of it. And you've got to go where the admirals are." And he says, "What else do you want to do." I said, "I thought about being a recruit counselor." He said, "OK, is there anything else?" I said, "I know, you sent me PAD to augment the master arms force on U.S.S. Ranger when they moved their dependents for a home port. I think I might want to be a master of arms. And lo and behold, the SRB list came out in June, I think it was, and master of arms were on it and they were at three [inaudible]. If I had first thought re-enlisted for six years I'd get twenty grand to become a master of arms. Well, OK, you don't have to twist my arm, so I did. I called the detailer, got picked up for conversion, put in my package, and the whole bit, and got picked up, transferred, became a master at arms. Didn't have a clue exactly what it was I was going to do. Hadn't been through any schooling yet. It wasn't required, wasn't mandatory. Hadn't got that far yet. They had just re-established that rating in '73, but it was pretty much a senior, top-heavy, first class and above type rating, and it's had its ups and downs too, and they're trying to push it down to second class, and they're trying to fill a bunch of security billets, so I got lucky and got a billet in the school, but not until January of '86. When I called the detailer, he said, "I've got you slated for school January of '86. So where do you want to go - Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor, or Pearl Harbor." So I said, "I was kind of hoping I'd get one of those tenders on the West Coast. I'd prefer the one here in San Diego, but I'd be fine with San Francisco." [He said,] "Sorry, don't have any billets. No beds." I can't believe it. This is now 1985, 1986. Women have been on ships since '78. I said, "Fine, I'll take Pearl Harbor." I've been there before, be nice to go back, I can do that. The only glitch in all that was about six months later when I called to tell them I got married, because I got my orders to Pearl Harbor so I'd be living in a barracks. I've been hving on my own for the last six years courtesy of the Navy. No barracks, anywhere. Now, suddenly, you're telling me I've had to live in the barracks because you've buiU these huge barracks and you can't get people in them now. You know, I have a house, I have household goods, I have a pet. And I got married. Didn't want to live in the barracks?

Lara Ballard:

Was he in the service?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

No, no he was not. As a matter of fact, he was quite a bit younger than me. He was actually the brother of a good friend of mine. He says, yeah, I'll go to Hawaii. Sure, I would to if I was getting a free trip. Anyway, I got stationed in Hawaii. Found a place overlooking - it looked straight down on Pearl Harbor. You know, whenever people would come to visit, take vacation, I'd sit and watch their plane come around, make the turn over Barber Point and cut back and finally touch down. I could leave my house and get to the airport. They'd be walking off the airplane by the time I'd get to the gate. I loved it. I was stationed at Pearl Harbor on independent duty at Semi-Pearl. I was one of two master of arms, which really wasn't a good place for someone brand new coming out of school. I really thought, again, I'm going to be on some police force somewhere - no, it's going to be a guard force, I'm going to be going in, getting my gun, doing all that stuff, going out on patrol, you know. Independent duty, you do all the other stuff. I was doing processing mass as a urinalysis coordinator. Master at arms, they don't tell you this, but they really do a whole week, a block of this in school, because that's like the unofficial rule - master at arms are always the urinalysis coordinator - as we like to call it, so you're a pee petty officer.

Lara Ballard:

So you did a lot of work, but it was more bureaucratic?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

It was very bureaucratic, yes it was. Which, in a way, was up my alley because I came from a strong clerical/administrative background. So doing all the paperwork and all the reports and crossing the T's and dotting the I's, which are the things that Legal likes was great. But there wasn't much law enforcement, even though we were "law enforcement inspectors." I had to maintain my bookwork and any time I could get a chance to go to some school or some training or some augment, I would just like to keep up on what was going on out there, because I wasn't full time law enforcement. So a three-year tour; now we're about '89, '88 is when I made the changes. First time up, it was great.

Lara Ballard:

And you know, you're a career veteran, so that's important. So you were talking about what your day-to-day life was like as a master at arms at Pearl Harbor. Now it's late '80-something.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Yes, it was late'80's. It really wasn't much going on. They'd throw a few Thread-con roles and because I was a tenant commander of the base, I just made sure my guys knew what to look for and make sure that the command was aware to keep track of their own entrances and exits and (....) tracks for visitors and stuff like that. I tried to get on what they called the auxiliary force for the base so I could go play. Do the real thing. Women do stuff, but - there were times when stuff was serious and important and stuff like that but, right now, I can't recall anything major happening. I mean, most of my stuff I saw in the news, like everything else. I had gone to MA school with another first class and he happened to be on the Stark, you know. That was kind of an eye-opener. I didn't stay in touch with the guy, but I knew who different people were, and as soon as I had heard about the [USS] Stark, it's like "Oh, my God. I hope he's OK." And luckily he was. He had a diseased (......)

Lara Ballard:

What happened to the Stark? I don't remember.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

The Stark was hit by two Exorcet missiles and I don't remember where they came from. Was it Iran or Iraq. One says Iran, now. Several things came out of that. Number one, the current - some of the current uniforms melted into the people's skin, you know, the poly-nylon stuff, which was not good. So one of the things they came out with aboard the ship, cotton uniforms, you had to start wearing cotton uniforms, and those are the little things I remember that came out of that. Let's see what else. The Jason ran into the Willamette or the Willamette ran into the Jason right after I got there in '86, and I had a friend that had been on the Willamette and he spent eight hours in the water till they found him. When the ships hit he went overboard. What else? The Iowa explosion. And all that's the stuff that happened, but it really wasn't -1 felt like I was detached, because I was never actually involved in a lot of that stuff. You know, Granada, Panama - all that stuff went on while I was there, but I was never there. I was in San Diego and Hawaii.

Lara Ballard:

Do you think that was by design or it could have been a guy in the same situation just going through the bureaucracy.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Yeah, oh, absolutely. I knew a lot of people in my very same shoes. Believe it or not, in popular belief, just as many women as men, they're equal amounts in my book that don't want to go to sea. The difference was women didn't have to go to sea and there were a lot of women when they did finally start pushing women to go to sea that were, like, you know what I came in in '72, we didn't have to go, why do we have to go now. I don't want to go. It was getting on toward the end of their careers. Those that had stuck around - the old, as I say, the WAVES came in in '72, that type of thing; they were still in, they were first classes. "I don't want to go to sea." And unfortunately they were - as I say it was like, "I'll trade places! Just trade places!" Because the first group of women that went to sea set the stage for the rotation. It was like, if you didn't come up transfer when someone was coming off of one of those ships, the odds were that you weren't going to get a ship for awhile, you know, because there were only so many beds in the berthing. They could only put so many women on. So it was tough, and I just wasn't in the cycle. Now I had friends that were. I had friends that every time they came up for duty it was back to sea. And of course there were more billets in the nontraditional ones. If you were (.....) mate, and I had a lot of friends that were, there were nontraditional H.G. welders or whatever, you know, then yeah, they went to see. But they were also in that cycle, that timeframe. That two and a half- that six-month period in that two and a half to three year mark, so it would open up so people were moving. I just wasn't in that cycle, so I didn't get a ship. But to finish, I made Chief. They were making a big push at opening the rate up. When I made Chief there were 100 masters-at- arms who made chief then. In my command, I was the only female that made Chief. My command always seems - they'd get a female that made Chief, she'd make Chief, she'd be there another year, she'd leave, and no female would make Chief It's like every two years, a female would make Chief and then leave before the next female made chief, so there weren't any female Chiefs at my command. There were female officers, but there weren't anything like Chiefs. So I had officially one sponsor; unofficially three. Because the last female to make Chief at my command was still on base but at a different command, but she kind of stepped up and said, yeah, I'll be unofficially her sponsor because you know, they'd like to keep the same sex thing going. My boss was also officially my sponsor because he was still at base, and then I had several friends that took me under their wing, you know, that (.....) me too. I don't know how the guys knew how to take me. There were sixteen of us at our command, which was like the largest group of all the area command that made Chief, so the fifteen of us kind of hung together, and this was still when they could do pretty much anything they wanted to. They had a few guidelines coming down, but I still had to carry my book and do all the silly crazy stunts they wanted you to do, and go to Friday official Chief CPO selectee training and all this 10 other stuff, but I do remember asking and getting permission from my dad to come. He wasn't a chief He had never made chief But I wanted him there. Because if I had done it for anybody, I had done it for him. hi one aspect, he was kind of continuing his career through me, so I asked the Command Master Chief if my dad could go to my initiation. He was coming for my training. And they said yes, but they wanted to talk to him first. So he had to go talk to the Master Chief and they had this talk about, "We don't want you to interfere with what we're going to do with your daughter." You know, dads can be kind of protective. I'm sure they had that talk with him. But my dad, knowing my dad, was, "Oh, go ahead, do whatever you want." And he had fun because they let him participate. My cousin came out that had retired in '76, because she actually had made Chief in'63. She was a Corpsman Chief But she came out. She helped videotape it. She didn't get as involved as my dad did. And it was just, you know, a 24-hour period where I don't mind making a fool of myself, wearing food products and being able to cuss in front of my elders.

Lara Ballard:

So this was kind of an initiation?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

It was an initiation.

Lara Ballard:

Everybody does this when they become Chief?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

They'd gone away from that, although I'm sure there are still commands out there that still do it. It's very restricted. More guidelines came out. It just kept getting more and more restricted. I don't really know what they're doing now, but from what I understand they don't do much, although I do suspect at sea they still do some things. I think it hurt. Nobody with me got hurt. Now were people hurt during this process, absolutely. People died during this process. Other people got carried away. For the longest time - the worst ones were the ones that got initiated the year before because they wanted to get even, they wanted to get back, so they took it out on the following year. Well the Navy tried to get away from that. They said those, they couldn't be sponsored; they couldn't be involved in any organizations. They could just be there to watch. Trying to get away from that. Which I thought was a good idea, because I only got mad one time during my initiation, when there were three of us and a couple of the guys from the year before were really starting to be stupid. And I thought that somebody could have gotten hurt. These things could frustrate me, and even to this day it happens. You know, when I get mad, so mad, I cry. And it's not a girl thing. It's just a Patty thing. And that's the way I explain it. And I was crying. A friend of mine who was my unofficial sponsor said, "Are you OK?" I said, "I'm fine. Get the hell out of my face. Let me get through this." Because they were stupid people; they could have hurt someone.

Lara Ballard:

They wanted you to go into it, or ...?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Oh, no, they were taking eggs. Eggs were always an integral part of initiations, by the way. And shooting them with slingshots at us, which was fine if they were probably 20 feet away, but when they're two and a half feet away and they're aiming at your face, you know, and you have no goggles on, it stings and you can get the shells in 11 your eyes, you know. I just - nobody did, but the fact it was there. It was fine when they were 20 feet away, but when a couple of them came right upon us, I thought it was wrong. As time went on and I got the feeUng that she was being a sponsor, my standard rule was, and I'd always tell the person that was my selectee, I said, "You want the truth." And I never lied to them. You can ask any person out there that were my selectees, and I never lied. Because when you're the only female and a female makes chief, it's automatic that the senior female chief becomes the sponsor. It's just the way it's done. But that was my role, you know. And I say now, if I address you a certain way, and I'll call you slug, I'll call you idiot, I'll call you whatever, I'm guilty. But if I call you Petty Officer so-and-so, I'm not messing around. I don't care who's fooling with you. Either I foresee a danger, I foresee you losing your temper, putting yourself in danger. You have to know. Like these are the key words. If I call you this, yes, stop what you're doing and you've got to hsten. But anything else, you know, I'm just like everybody else. And I never lied to them. There was this big secrecy thing, you know. It's how you handle stressful situations. It's how you handle the unknown. In an initiation itself, I kind of had an idea of some of the stuff they were going to do. Some of it was new to me. But, again, it's trust. Now, I was lucky. I was with a group of individuals that did stuff that would not hurt you in a million years. It might appear that it was going to hurt you, but it wouldn't. And I felt very lucky that I, you know. Other than those idiots doing the thing with the eggs, I had never seen anything that could hurt anybody.

Lara Ballard:

Is the idea here to try to test your mettle, to make sure you can command?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Yes, because leading isn't necessarily always being right. It's just the ability to know. Because there's times when you have to say, you know, I screwed up; that this is my fauU and I'm going to make it right. It's not my crew's fauU. It's my fault. It was just having the ability to know how to do that, to know when to do it.

Lara Ballard:

OK, so we talked about initiation. That was '89.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Right.

Lara Ballard:

See, I was up for orders in '89, also. I had called for orders of the chief selectee and, again, I wanted a ship. They didn't have it. I said, like, fine, you know I'm going to extend for a year. So I made chief My boss left. So I took on his job, and I was the only Chief master at arms there. And, again, I came up for orders, and I called, and no ship. But the ironic part was, I talked to my detailer, that's the person in DC who you call to ask "Where are they going to send me?" I called me detailer and he didn't have any ships. But he says, "You wouldn't want to be a detailer, now, would you?" And I thought to myself... this really is what I thought to myself. "You know what, yes. Because I'll do that job and I'll send myself to sea. Because if I can't, then I'm washing my hands of the program, because if I can't send myself to sea there is something seriously wrong, and that's why I took the job." So I went to Washington, DC, and spent three years doing details. We went from two detailers to one, because the Master Chief that I was working with, he was coming up on his 30, and he wanted to do twilight. 12 which was when you get your last two years kind of wherever you wanted to go, and wanted to twiUght as a Navy liaison at some Army base really close to home. So I took on the whole rate. It took a little bit convincing Master Chiefs and Senior Chiefs that they needed to go certain places. I had the backing of my boss and his boss, and that's the way it worked, you know. And I never played favorites. You hear stories, you always think detailers play favorites, and you know. I mean, yeah, we joke, and we'd always have private jokes as detailers and stuff like that, especially: "Life's a bitch and see your detailer to find one." Anyway, I worked in the deck assigimients and it was all your first mates, your signaling, your quartermasters, your masters at arms were all in there, and the admin side. You know, the (.....) mates on the other side (.......); it was always fun listening to them talking to their constituents, you know, because they're boat mates. Anyway, I finished up, and I started looking for a ship, and I found one. It was getting close. They were saying, "No, we're going to open up all of the auxiharies." They'd put some women on some of the (.......) some of the oilers, but now they were looking at everything, (......), the FS's, everything, they wanted them on everything. And, you know, I couldn't just go to a regular ship. I had to go to (.......). So the one ship they wanted to put women in Pre-com, and I was initially the one I thought they were going to a tender. So I said, no, I'll put in for a Pre-com. So I took a Pre-com AOE; she's a fast combat supply support. It was being built in San Diego, so I got to San Diego. So I left DC in '93, took 30-some-odd days leave, and reported on board in '94. It wasn't on board yet. It was in the water and all that stuff, but we were going through doing all of the insurance checks of all of the spaces. I've got to give the Navy credit. When they do that kind of stuff, if you accept something that's not right, it's your own fault, because you have the opportunity to check out your space in a Pre-com situation, and it's your own fault if you take it and there's something wrong. I wish businesses and other jobs would do the very same thing, and use the people that are going to work in the specs. I'm kind of going through the same thing in my current civihan job. They're building a new building. But the only people that get to go through the walkthroughs are the mucky-mucks, the higher-ups, and it's like, "Excuse me. Are you going to be the one sitting in that office. Are there enough Internet ports? Are there going to be enough power outlets?" They don't have a clue. And heaven forbid, they let a secretary or a coordinator walk through. They don't have that concept at all. If it's your space in the Navy, you're on that Pre-com unit, you go through, you make sure you need everything, that everything's there. Same thing with your initial outfitting list. You know, you make sure that everything you need is on that list. If you don't get something, it's because you didn't ask for it.

Lara Ballard:

Now what was going to be your assignment on the ship?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

I would be the chief master at arms. The crew in an ideal situation was on a full deployment. The Air Wing was going to be like 650; non-deployment, non-Air Wing, probably about 580.

Lara Ballard:

Sounds like the pohce chief of a small town. 13

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Could be. But again, a ship is its own entity. It's self-contained. The CO is God. And my philosophy is, I'm hear to take care of the crew, to protect them from outside entities or from themselves, because in some cases that's what it is, to advise the command and, in some cases that's all I can do, and if the command says, "I don't care, we're doing it this way," then it's my job to minimize damage control. I mean, that's what it was. If you get somebody, a CO or somebody that says, "You know, I really don't care what the book says. I'm going to do it this way. Because, you know, when you get underway, that's what it is. So then it's my job to do damage control and make it happen and make sure nobody gets hurt and the job gets done. Now did I ever actually have that happen to me in a very serious situation? No. I'll be honest. I'm very lucky in my career. I was not ever sexually harassed that I know of, but then I've always considered myself to be very open-minded and maybe I was, but I didn't know. I was never put in a situation where I had to break any laws or get anybody hurt, you know. I really didn't hit what I call my male testosterone brick wall in the military until I went on a ship and then, at that point, you know, I was on the downhill slide. And I just fell back on "It's a man's Navy. You can manage to work with them, you can work against them, you can make life miserable for yourself" You know, so I did what I had to do to get by, which in this case was just to say, "You know what. If you don't want me to do that, I won't do it."

Lara Ballard:

Give me an example of something that they didn't want you to do that you felt like you could.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

I wanted to be more pro-law enforcement active on the ship. I wanted to have a force that were dressed in a law enforcement uniform. Not that they had to carry firearms. No, you didn't need them. But just did all the minor infraction investigations. The way it was handled, which is kind of an old way of doing it, was like if something happened in the berthing, then the berthing petty officer - because most berthings were different departments - so if I'm an engineer and I'm down in second engineering berthing and somebody rips off my pocket watch and I catch them, there might be fisticuffs between the two of them. Everything should have been turned over to me as far as the investigation and all that stuff, but the way they handled it was within the department because it was too incidental. And I said, "If that's the way you want to do it, that's fine." Coming up on the 21'* Century here, but OK, I was responsible for heads and beds. And what that is is all the berthings, the executive officer and myself would do the inspections every day to make sure they were clean and weren't getting all stinky and stuff That was something I felt should be the responsibility of the departments, that's not something the chief master at arms should do. But again that was old Navy. It was like OK. Again, I'm a law enforcement specialist and now that I made senior chief In that first year. We weren't even aboard yet and I took a Senior Chief coming off (....). But I had fun because I enjoyed going to sea; I knew I would. I used to love being out there. Walking back on the (.......), having a smoke, walking out on the flight deck at night - nobody else, dark, darkened ship, seeing the stars. I loved it. I loved the smell, I loved the ship, I loved everything about it. There was a part of me that said, "Like man, I wish I could 14 have done this twelve years ago." But it wasn't in the cards. But I also knew at this point that I would retire at 20 if I didn't make master chief at 19. Now I transferred from the ship. I did a little over three years, finished my tour with the Pre-com unit. Yet they stay on for so long, and because of the way my ski rotation was, I stayed on through first deployment, and I got to leave in Australia. And they were on their way back, but I had gotten orders, and because of my leave and everything they flew me out of Australia. And I really did get to see the world. Between the Marine Corps and the Navy, I think, in my retirement speech, in both hemispheres, something like 15, 20 countries, 39 states. I saw the world. So between the ship and the detailer, detailing around, traveling, I got to see the world.

Lara Ballard:

As a detailer you had to go to some of the stations to talk to people when you assigned to their ...

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Yes, we did. Every year they would do what we called the West PAC [Pacific] trip, a Med [Mediterranean] trip, and then they'd always do a battle group trip. If a battle group was ready to deploy, they'd send out a group of detailers to go to those ships to talk to the sailors who would be rotating during or right after to get everything squared away for them so they wouldn't be worrying about it. So I did the West PAC trip in the summer of '91, which was right when Mount Pinitubo blew. The West PAC trip always included the Philippines. That was one place I never got to go because Mt. Pinitubo blew, so they scratched the detailing trip, and by the time I got on the ship they didn't have anybody there. But we went to Japan. We flew to Japan, Guam and then Hawaii. That was the extent of the West PAC trip. I didn't make a med trip. I did one battle group. It was the Kitty Hawk battle group in '92 that came out of San Diego, I did all that. I'd get a little computer and go online. This was back in the early '90's; not like it is today. It took forever to finally hook into the computer and the bureau, which was in DC at the time but now it's in Memphis, which is a much better place because I do feel having it in DC when it was in DC was not fair to the West Coast sailors. Because the East Coast sailors could catch a short flight up out of Florida or down from Newport. First thing in the morning they could stand at your desk at 8:00, you know, when the reqs came out, and you're going to do business with the person who's standing there. By the time they turn their phones on, meanwhile, the West Coast isn't even up yet. So putting it in Memphis kind of puts it equal distance between both coasts.

Lara Ballard:

That seems like a strange place for a Navy bureau.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

I know. But it used to be all the aviations commands. They moved all the aviation commands - all the training - down to Pensacola and they moved C-Net up to Memphis, the bureau up to Memphis.

Lara Ballard:

Let's backtrack before we finish your retirement, and talk a little bit about sexuality. Why don't we go way back to your aunt?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

My cousin. Well, I knew exactly what she was talking about. And at the time, you know, in the back of my head. She's talking about being gay, lesbian. So, I mean. 15 this from a woman who's Uving with a woman who got (......) they both loved the Great Lakes together and they went to Virginia together. And one of them had gotten out and they were all (.....) I had no clue about myself But I did. It's hard to understand. Looking back, I'm thinking, oh, man, boy, how was I. I did all the right things. I was doing what every girl was supposed to do. Now in the Marine Corps, I got this really bad crush on this girl. And I didn't know what to make of it. I mean, I knew it was wrong, I knew I could get into big trouble. Oh, my God, it's wrong. So I went out on a limb, and I remember asking one of the -- Now in the Marine Corps, the rank structure at that time and when you're a woman (.....) it's a really big thing. It's every step. If you're a private and somebody's a PFC, they're God. If you're a PFC and they're a Lance Corporal, they're God. So I was a PFC. Actually, I know, I was Lance Corporal. And I had gone to this corporal, which in the Marine Corps is a big step, because they're blood stripes. Anyway, I said, I think I love this person. And I remember, she told me, "Have you talked to so-and-so." And I said, "no." She says, "You need and talk to so-and-so." Well so-and-so was a staff person in our barracks who probably was gay. I don't know for sure. But that's who I got referred to. So I go and I said, "Look, I've really got this crush. What should I do." [She said], "Have you told her?" I said, "no." "Don't you think you ought to tell her." And time went on. And we went our separate ways. And then we came back in the same location. And I finally got up the guts to write her a letter. So I write her a letter and I leave it in her room, and she gets the letter, and she reads letter, and actually she handled it very well. "I'm really flattered," and all that wonderful stuff And that was it. So now I'm thinking, oh my God, maybe that's my luck. Because I've been really close to all my girlMends. I never thought about them sexually. So maybe that's it. So I'm working on the Queen Mary and there's this newfound freedom of being what I want to be. So I start giving hard times to everybody. I'm still not sure who I am, but they don't need to know that. And then, of course, I was engaged, and I didn't want to hurt him. And I was honest with him. I said, "I don't feel anything for you sexually. I don't know where I'm going with this, but it's not fair to you. I'm not going to marry you only in five years from now to tell you I don't love you, I want to have an affair with a girl. I'm not going to do that to you. I'm not that type of person. I don't want to ruin both of our lives." And he understood that. So I went off in the Navy. Went to Pearl Harbor. And I'm working in this com center and I'm getting familiar with the people. As I say, my gay-dar was in full force. Sorry.

Lara Ballard:

That's OK.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Private joke, I guess. Many people will laugh I know. But I'm just going around going oh, yeah. And I couldn't peg a guy for the likes of me unless they were wearing a see-through or something. But I was pretty certain I knew who was with the girls. But I was too scared sick. So I was doing my job. And one day a couple of people come up to me and say, hey, you know, we get together and we play spades. We go to someone's apartment, we play spades, you know, and grab some beer, and have some wine, and just play spades all night. You want to do that. Sounds like fun getting out of the barracks 16 because I was still in the barracks. So I would go over to this girl's house, apartment, paid for, and the like, overlooking Hawaii, and we're playing cards and some of them leave and so there's three of them. One of the girls goes to the back and the other girl's just sitting there, she says, "You know, there's a group of people in the military. The military doesn't really like to admit that they're there but they are. And remember, I went: "Oh, my God!" And that's exactly how I reacted. I said: "Oh, my God! Yes!" And you know, it kind of welcomes gays. And I said, "Yes!" And it was just like doors opened there. It was just like all the weight came off and I was in a group of friends that knew how I felt, and I didn't even have to say how I feh, you know. But you know, got to be careful. Well this was 1980 for crying out loud. The military was undergoing a great transition, I mean, it was ... the late 70's and early 80's, there were a lot of inconsistencies with stuff. People wouldn't go. I knew that. It was nothing. I was working .. you could do it in the Comm Center. Two or three of the people would go, "Oh, we're going to get paper down in the tunnel. That where we sort our paper within this (....) down in the back. They weren't going for paper. They were going to smoke dope. Everybody knew it. I think the first urinalysis I ever had was like in '82 when the Navy started to get kind of serious about it and then kind of serious in '83 and '84. '85 it was pretty safe. But prior to '82 I didn't know what a urinalysis was. Dope was rampant. I don't care what anybody says. It was nothing for people to smoke some weed. It was in Hawaii, yes, that Pacululu Gold. It was like if you did your job, they didn't care. And you lived out in town. As long as you did your job, came into work, they didn't care. That was how I felt, you know. Did they know? A few of my coworkers knew. 'Cause I finally got hooked up with the girl that had went in the back, which is who I used to watch up. And that's the one that got the orders to San Diego, and I released the corps to go to San Diego, and that was the one who decided that it (....) any more because they were on a ship, so they went and told the (...) they were gay. And I remember saying, "Oh, my God! We're living together." And he did what. Meanwhile we had sort of kind of broken up. She had started seeing somebody else. You know, this was the early '80's. This was the time when the guys didn't know what AIDS was. So it was sleep with this one, sleep with that one, whatever. I could never do that. Anyway, she started seeing someone else and when she went in and told the CO that she was gay, she was getting ready to pull out. And she just knew they were going to get her off before deployment. And I looked at her and I said, "Don't bet on it." They're going to think it's a ploy to get you out of deployment. They're not going to let you out that easily. And meanwhile the girl she was seeing - and we had just broke up and we were living in the same apartment - the girl she was seeing had roommates that said, "We don't want to have anything to do with you now that that's come out." So she was over. I'm just going, "Oh, my God!" And I still cared for her a lot. That was my first. So anyway, she goes off with deployment, they broke her off on deployment, I get these calls from God knows whatever in the middle of the night because the girl that she was seeing, she left to go to school in Norfolk, somewhere. I was like the very next person. I get locked out a lot in relationships. My professional life was great, you know, but then first time up I had a great career, great jobs. My personal life sucked. Anyway, you know, it's hard. Breaking up, and I had to go into work. And I know, if it was all on the up and up and all out in the open, and this was a guy and a girl, I could go into work and say, "You know what. My boyfriend just broke up with me." (....) Yeah, let me walk 17 into my boss, my chief, and say, excuse me, but Renee and I just broke up and it's, you know, I'd be like what, who? So I have a lot of problems with my pet. My cat was sick a lot, had to go to the vet. I had a lot of flat tires.

Lara Ballard:

When she came out, were there any repercussions for you?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

There wasn't any repercussion for me other than what I envisioned in my pet.

Lara Ballard:

Right.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Surprisingly enough. It could have been. I mean, this was the time of it, what was it, the Gibson 8, they had a big thing in San Diego, '82, where the kicked out like eight girls off the U.S.S. Gibson, and the XO had passed the word, "dyke departing," or something like that, when they kicked these girls out. Because I can remember going to a bar when some of them were there, you know. Had just gotten out that day, and they were kind of celebrating. But this was the kind of stuff that was going on a there a lot. There were witch hunts going on and I was getting paranoid. Anyway, she finally got kicked out. You know, the ship sent her home. I remember picking her up from the airport. She processed through San Diego TPU and then she left to go to Norfolk. Meanwhile I had kind of started seeing somebody that I was stationed with. A lot of Softball games. Softball games and bars. But that wasn't anything fantastic and that was her brother that I married. So now I go to Hawaii. Well, I started seeing somebody right before I left to go to Hawaii. They were (......), older than I was. And it opened my eyes to quite a few things. But long distance hurts relationships, especially gay ones in the military, because it's bad enough. But you don't have the support. There's no family support when you're gone. And when you're in two separate locations, they just depart. And Hawaii has - I don't know whether it still is, you know, after doing two tours there, that was hard on relationships because it is such a fun place to be. I met somebody, but I was technically with somebody else, so I started having this affair. And I felt bad, you know. But sun, sand, beach, water, surf, whatever. To make a long story short, I wound up kind of being by myself, you know. I kind of wanted to be by myself My husband, who was much younger than I was, was coming into his own - 18, 19, found out he couldn't handle alcohol. Wrecked my car. Didn't total it or anything, you know, but put some nice scratches and dings and dents and stuff, and it was finally, it was like, you know what, I can't deal with it. Here I am, I'm master at arms over here at the (.....) command, and you can't be pulling me down like this. I can't - you go away for two days, I don't know where you're at. And he goes (.....), and I said, "When you get help, call me. When you decide to put yourself in treatment, call me." Because he was, he had a serious problem. Plus he was trying to figure out his own sexuahty, you know. (....) Anyway, I saw several people when I was in Hawaii, but nothing ever serious. When I got stationed in DC, I had met this person in Hawaii, actually, you know, it's such a small community. If you don't know somebody who's sleeping with somebody, then you're probably sleeping with somebody who knows somebody. It's the only way you can get started. So to make a long story short, I had, when I went to DC, I went, took 30 days leave, took a trip across the United States and stopped by their house, because they had been medically discharged. Legitimately medically discharged for some things. They 18 were living down in Kentucky. And we just kind of hit it off. I say, "Why don't you move up there to DC with me, get a place." So I had a nice family life for three years and then come home, wife and dog, this and that. And then I took orders for the ship, and I said, "You can go with me to San Diego for a year or I can move." You said, "where the ship's going to eventually be out of" And (.....). I don't know, you know, sometimes I do stuff that when you look back you think, "I probably did that for a reason," but at the time that I did it I was blind to the fact that (....). Both, we had the same ex, and they had a house and they had an apartment in the house for (.....), they had one whole floor. I took it sight unseen because I wanted stability in my partner. I wanted her to say, have a place, this is where you're going to live. I did that.

Lara Ballard:

[Inaudible question.]

Patricia Louise Duwel:

I got set up big time. I remember that phone call. Of course that was about the time - that was when I truly came out to my family. Now I had come out to my mom when I was stationed in Hawaii the first time. And all my mom said was, no, I didn't come out to my mom. I told her I was thinking about when I was still engaged to Jimmy, because that was who I was engaged to. And all she said was, "What about Jimmy?" And I remember I had told her that I'd met somebody the first time I was in Hawaii and we really discussed it. All my friends were always welcome at my house, you know, and they all met my friends. But it wasn't until I broke up with this other person in '94 that I actually came out, out, trying to discuss the breakup. You know, I'm sitting on the phone in my brother's backyard crying my eyes out talking on the phone. My niece who was eight at the time, I remember (......), you know, and then because my dad offered to go up and get my stuff and helped took care of my stuff, they were afraid that somebody, between the two that got together, they were going to trash my stuff or steal my stuff (.......). And then, after that happened, I met somebody else, you know, sometimes you do stupid things. Like I said, my professional career was great but my personal life sucked. I met somebody who was really (....). I didn't realize how heavily they were into drugs. All kinds. I'd be blind to certain things, you know, for love, and again I tried to set up the perfect house for them. You know, fixer, enabler, all that wonderful stuff (.....). And I got (.....) for ten thousand dollars because they had an addiction they could keep up. And meanwhile I deployed. This all happened when I deployed. This would be in 1996. I called them back, trying to find somebody, and I said, "Look, you know, I'm sending you a power of attorney. I need you to get my stuff packed up. I need you go get over there and give 30 days notice and get her out of the house. Bad checks and pawning off my stuff to a pawnbroker. Shit happens. So now I get here and I left the ship and got stationed locally. I retired in '99.

Lara Ballard:

What made you retire?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Well I had already told myself that I was going to retire, if I didn't make Master Chief by my 19* year, that I would retire. And I didn't make Master Chief That was expected because the majority of people weren't making Master Chief till about 21 or 22. And I never thought of it past 20. Plus bom and raised in Long Beach, very close to my parents, my mom being handicapped and disabled and stuff They're both getting older. 19 They had moved out of Long Beach to what I hke to call No Man's Land, 28 acres out in nowhere in the central California coast. Dad's building a house. He's my mom's primary caretaker, and he's getting older too, and there have been a couple of times where in the latter '90's I had taken leave to go take care of her while he had (........) done, and it's just one of those things in the back of my mind like, you know, I'm going to wind up being a caretaker. The daughter usually always is the caretaker for their parents. Don't get me wrong. My brother, I love him the best. But he's got his own family, you know, and he would help me in whatever way he could, but I was the one who would get the call: "You know. Dad's got to have his shoulder operated on. Could you come down and stay for ten days until he's able to pick me up or whatever?" "Oh, yes, sure." So that all played into it. It all played into my retirement. Because I didn't make master chief and, OK, I'm going out at 20. That way, I'll be available if or when they need me. I lost both my grandmothers on that one deployment that I did. They both passed away. One I was really close to. That was my mom's mom. She was like 97 years old, almost 98 years old when she passed away. She had been - she was always on my case, too, because having been raised in a family where my mom was a disabled person, my grandmother actually was considered also next of kin, as a primary next of kin, because my grandmother did the physical labor of the raising because my mom couldn't. We were a very close-knit family in that regard - nuclear-type family (......) So I was deployed and we were underway. And then my father's mother passed away, again, while we were deployed, right before - we had two weeks before we were heading to Australia, before I came off the ship. And again, I wound up doing things not the way I had planned, because my father had taken and gone back East to try to see his mother before she passed away, and they had my dog -1 had gotten out of that bad situation. They were holding him for me. So they've got their two dogs and my dog was a puppy, totally unruly. My mom who was handicapped and (.....) my dad and they're both in their late '60's. They're traveling across country and their engine blows up in Oklahoma. They're trying to get to Cincinnati, Ohio, so he can see his mom before his mom passes away, and his mom passes away on his birthday while they're stuck in Oklahoma. So I get a call. They want another van to transfer everything from the van they had been traveling. This was a wheelchair van. They left it in Oklahoma so they could get it fixed. Meanwhile, they bought this other van so now they don't have the lift - don't have any of these ramps - because my mom had a (......). And when I finally get into Australia, and I made some calls, and I'm finding out all about all this stuff, it's like, "Can you come to Ohio because you're going to be on leave, right, and help us drive back? If you want to pick up the van, it's going to be ready on the way back, and help us with all of granny's stuff that we've acquired, and (.....). "Sure."

Lara Ballard:

I should think you'd get leave?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

You know, many, many times I wound up doing that. In'82,1 took 30 days, 45 days. I wanted to be on vacation. I was going up to .. the person I was with, we were going up to their house in Michigan. And in Michigan, I get a call, my folks are on vacation down in Ohio, my dad's like, "Mom's really having a hard time. We want to go to Bahimore to visit her relatives but she has a really hard time. Can you come down and ride with us and help (....). And I'm like, "Sure." Shit happens, sorry. 20

Lara Ballard:

So tell me, one question I've asked everybody is what do you think of the don't ask, don't tell policy, and where were you when this policy was enacted?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

IhadjustleftDC.

Lara Ballard:

So tell me a little bit about that. What was it like? And when that policy was being debated, and ...

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Personally, there was no change for me. I mean, you know, because I pretty much was in the closet the whole time. Don't ask, don't tell. I just don't know how that can be effective. This is my personal viewpoint, because you're either going to be in the closet or you're not. You know, the military's saying, and this was my interpretation of it, it's like OK, you can be gay, sort of We don't want to know about it. You can't tell us about it. We're not going to ask about it. But don't do anything that we find out about. I mean, it's like, OK, what that tells young kids today is like, OK, I'm gay, I'm going into the military. I'm just not going to tell them. But they don't understand the implication is that because it's now there, they might do something that's going to get them caught, you know. And even though the government can't ask, if it finds out for whatever reason, they're gone, you know. There's no question they're gone. And to me it just seems to put, I want to say this very diplomatically, but the people that seem to think - people said this myself are wrong or are deviant or whatever in their minds that this just gives them some more power. And I'm not sure why they think it does, but they seem to think it does, and even though they can't ask, as soon as they do find out something, then that's all they need. Am I making any sense?

Lara Ballard:

Yeah, definitely.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

You know.

Lara Ballard:

My question is, do you think it was really a change?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

No.

Lara Ballard:

OK.

Patricia Louise Duwel:

I don't. I saw no change myself But then I was in, and I was in the closet, and I knew the rules, unwritten as they were. You know, because there were times when my co-workers knew, that my co-workers knew. It wasn't anything that we discussed. But they knew, you know, because I mentioned certain things and they just knew. Now did their bosses know? Absolutely not! There was only one time when I truly felt one real time when I really felt that I was in jeopardy of my career. And so I just went on the offensive. It was when I was at Pearl Harbor. It was when I had just made Chief. And I started hearing these rumors that my name was coming up in some investigations, so I grabbed the guy I was married with. He even put his boxers on and pulled his jeans on. He wanted to look really butch. And we tromped into the XO's office and I said, "I hear 21 I'm under investigation for being gay. And of course, he pipes up, "And I don't appreciate that!" You know, and I'd hke to find out if that's true. And she made some calls and it wasn't, supposedly. You know, she said she couldn't find anything out, you know. I don't know ifshe did or didn't. She told me she didn't find anything out. And then I heard when I was in DC this same friend of mine I had known when I was in Hawaii, we'd kept in touch and we were talking, and he knew. He was a good fi-iend and I trusted him. He said, well you know, you were under investigation when you were in Hawaii. I said, "No, I didn't know that." He said, "Oh, yeah! I said, "I guess they didn't find anything out that they could use." You know. That was it. That was the only time. I was never, ever called in. Now, there was a lot of perception in my mind, you know, and we'd always hear (.......) in the bars, stay away fi-om the bars, that type of thing, so you'd stay low for four or five months, and you always knew not to park close to the bar, park down the street around the comer, because if they were out and about, you know, they might see that sticker on your car. But I saw no change, I really didn't. It gives a sense of power to those who think they could use something when they find out, and it gives a false sense to the younger kids going in that they're going to be somehow protected, and they're not. And that's the scary part of the whole thing. The people that I've met and I've talked to, the young kids - because I work currently at a high school and I've had the opportunity to talk to a handful of kids that are contemplating the service. And I tell them flat out. I say, "I don't care what anybody tells you. If you're gay and go in the military, you're going to be in the closet or your not, and if you're not you're going to be out. It's that simple. And there's still a lot of people that think you shouldn't be in there, and if they find out you are, there could be some very serious damage to you. They could hurt you career-wise, they could hurt you physically, they'll hurt you emotionally, verbally, whatever. They're going to be abusive towards you. Because they think they have that right. They think sometimes it's God-given. And that's just the way it is. You know, I was lucky. I truly never met anybody like that, you know. Knock on wood, I was lucky.

Lara Ballard:

So, how would you sum up the experience of the military for you as a woman?

Patricia Louise Duwel:

In some aspects, being a woman and going into the service, I feh (.....) I need to go in. The opportunities are endless in the Navy. But I've also always said, "What do you want to do?" Because what exactly you want to get into, I will tell you what service to go into, not necessarily the Navy. If you want to travel and you want to see the world and you don't mind doing it on the water, then join the Navy, irregardless of what you want to do, you know, because that's the best way to travel of all of the services. It beats sitting in tent for six months in Bosnia, OK. You're going to go see different things, whether it's up and down the West Coast, whether it's to Hawaii, whether it's the Mediterranean, whether it's the Gulf, you're going to see things in the Navy rather than just a tent and sand for six months and the back of an airplane going there and coming back. Tome, it's the Navy travel. The Marines travel. Should I go on, the Navy. If you're a woman, depending upon the career field you want to get into, though, I might say go in the Air Force because that (.......) may be better. They're a lot more specialized, they are a lot more technical. The training is, I believe, personally better because they are more technical and (......). You have a better chance of getting something that will be more concrete on the outside. So it just all depends on what you really want to do. For a woman, yeah, the service is great, straight or gay. But if you're gay you've got to go in with your eyes wide open. You can't meet somebody in the barracks and think you're going to have a relationship in the barracks. It's not going to happen. You've got to be discrete. You've got to live your own life separate from that. You know, the Navy kind of sort of did that for me. Here, move out in town, OK, you know. The only time was when they said I had to live in the barracks after I had been in for five or six years and I was first class. You know, sorry. Did I take it, some people would take advantage of them, you know. I don't think they did. I think that before, I'm sorry, I'm think that (....) that married their hometown sweetheart, they've got five kids, they're driving around from station to station and they're on welfare, is driving down the military more ... and taking advantage of the situation more than what I did. That's just me.

Lara Ballard:

Well, that's a discrimination against marriage thing. If you could get married, then it would be a ...

Patricia Louise Duwel:

Well, absolutely. You know, if I could have married a partner at some point and we got housing, that would have been nice. But that would never happen. It didn't happen in my career and I'll be very surprised if it happens in my lifetime. You'll never know. We might get lucky. But that's going to be a long time.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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