HULL Bio - Brooks A. Rowlett
No, I was never in the service. The draft ended around the beginning of the year I turned 18, which was the same year South Viet Nam ceased to exist as a separate entity.
I apparently developed my interest in things military from a couple or 3 tv shows as a child; I have vague memories of COMBAT and an obscure series on Naval Aviation at least in Korea called THE BLUE ANGELS (does not seem to be directly related to the US Navy Flight Demonstration Team of the same name) and most of all, TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH (I still love B-17's). I started reading books on military topics as well, from a 1898-1964 naval history book called CLEAR FOR ACTION by Foster Hailey and Milton Lancelot, to Shirer's book on THE SINKING OF THE BISMARCK and Castillo's book on Midway and another of these Landmark series books on Aircraft carriers. And I started building model planes and ships (plastic kits). I read as much as I could on military air and naval topics (but the libraries in eastern Kentucky were not too rich in this category of books). I also discovered ALNAVCO, who sold Superior 1:1200 ships (I never got any) but at the time also sold plastic ship kits (which I did get) and I started getting THE ALNAVCO LOG gaming magazine...and became instantly hooked on the concept of naval war games. It took a while, but: I did start getting war games, and not just naval: the first one I bought being France 1940 (rather a strange one to start with, as it turned out). I also got JUTLAND and played it to death....solitaire. I never saw a JANE's until I went to college.
I went to the University of Louisville, which had an engineering program of going to school full time (including summers) for 5 years. Three semesters (second summer, the following spring, and then the following fall) were intended as co-operative internships. The major advantage, one emerged at the end of the five years with a master's degree in engineering. Louisville was losing its NROTC program and I wasn't terribly interested in actually being in the military, not willing to subject myself to such discipline. However, the engineering program I settled into, engineering physics, did include a heavy nuclear emphasis as one option, so I did get some interesting learning in that.
My first two co-ops were at the research area of the General Electric Company light factory at Nela Park, on the East side of Cleveland, Ohio. Aside from putting money aside for future school, I was able to indulge my ship model hobby some more and bought many ship models. I also started accumulating some really worthwile naval books of my own.
GE, however, had a policy of only hiring someone for two co-ops. My third co-op was at the (then) Naval Weapons Support Center, Crane, Indiana. This is a many-square mile facility in south central Indiana USA which serves as an ammunition depot and as a pyrotechnics research facility for the Navy. Rockeye cluster bombs were made there; they designed and contracted for decoy flares, they made star shells (illuminating rounds). They also were storage and depot for many explosive-related items. There were many old guns, mounts, directors, etc. in storage fields out in the spaces of Crane. I worked for the Applied Sciences department on two projects, one dealing with a helicopter special decoy flare and the other on modifying a small wind tunnel used to test other decoy flares. I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, the home of Indiana University. It was at this time that I also discovered the best warship history magazine I know, WARSHIP INTERNATIONAL,
Upon graduating and getting a real job, I joined the US Naval Institute to get PROCEEDINGS magazine, and even more important the 20% discount on book purchases. I also started subscribing to WARSHIP INTERNATIONAL. The place I went to work at was the Naval Avionics Center, later the Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division and now Hughes Technical Services Company- Indianapolis. I started out doing computer simulation work on the WALLEYE flight model, radar simulations, and various special quick studies. When they found out I knew something about operations and tactics from wargames, I got assigned to study the real things to be able to better support modelling I was doing. Over the years I have worked on Strike planning requirements, navigation systems, LAMPS III equipment upgrade requirements, etc. V-22 system requirments when it was still "JVX". For that I got to spend nearly 2 weeks in Philadelphia, and got to visit the OLYMPIA; and also the German sail training ship GORCH FOCK which was visiting that weekend. For strike planning learning I got to spend a week aboard USS CARL VINSON watching carrier qualifications off the California coast, and flew off on a CH-53.
In the mid 1980's the Naval War College encouraged the various portions of Navy research community to use wargaming techniques to study technology possibilities and requirements for the future. As a half-blind leading the blind, I got drafted to be NAC Indianapolis representative. So I attended a "seminar" war game at another Navy lab, and then started a training program locally to teach our landlubber engineers and scientists just what it was that a Navy does, and what the ships and planes are for, not just what (the RQ-4333 board that goes in the CX-2221 box which is a component of the AN/ABB-1) does. And connected with this, I went to the Global War Game at the Naval War College in Newport for three summers in a row, The first year as just another person in the Advanced Technology Cell, the second year as the technology cell/umpire liaision person, and the third as an assistant in the new Technology Initiatives Game going on in parallel to the Global Game. But the Office of Naval Research became a primary funding source for the technology portion of the Naval War College effort, and they imposed their own limits on who could go to Newport. Sigh.... On the other hand, at least I got, in 1989, to go to the SEACON game, which was a game Newport had every fall, using the full war game facility to basically do the same thing I was doing at a microscale - teach Navy scientists and engineers from facilities all over the country as to how the USN operates. (I played in RED Air Defense).
For the fun part, at Newport I got to tour a KNOX (the CAPPODANO), and PERRY (the SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON) and the Japanese training ship KATORI ("Ah, so , you from Indiana? Indiana, Indiana.....oh, yes, James Dean from Indiana!!!") Also within driving distance is Fall River, Plymouth, Boston, Groton/New London,... so I got to tour the battleship & several other preserved/memorial ships (see Andrew's page for list of preserved ships in US). On other business trips I've been to a couple of Naval & Marine Corps Air Stations, toured the SARATOGA. I also got to participate in a program called Scientist to Sea where the Navy also provided some of its technical people with real life experience. In my case I spent a week aboard USS WASP after her post- shakedown refit sea trials, which also included the first test landings of V-22 aboard ship. (This was a photo cover of Aviation Week in early 1991; I'm one of the little blue splotches on the island behind the hovering V-22) This included standing an observation watch on the bridge and another in the Combat Information Center during a full drill with computer-simulated threats and engagements. I got a >very< thorough tour of the ship, from steering machinery and shaft alleys to the enclosed forecastle emergency conning position (the fore end under the flight deck where even on cvn's one can see two or three portholes just under the flight deck.) because of my job i'be been able to tour the war game facility at newport, ri; china lake, and san diego california, and play with a navtag mark i on a couple of occasions. i've studied the real tactics guides, and - also - played >lots< of hobby games with naval miniatures with our club (kampfgruppe indianapolis). and i have about 2000 books on naval history, ships, and sea warfare. i've had two classes under norman friedman, met >all< sorts of interesting people, including three astronauts (one of whom is the son of radm bruce mccandless who conned the seriously damaged san francisco out of danger at first guadalcanal (13 nov 42) winning the medal of honor - the son, astronaut, bruce mccandless jr was the first person to use the mmu, manned maneuvering unit to fly from the space shuttle without tether), ned beach, ad baker iii, the retired sub captain who was the principal technical consultant on the hunt for red october movie (jim patton), frank uhlig who edited proceedings for many years and now edits the naval war college review).....and oh yes, the guy to whom all harpooners owe a debt of gratitude, the designer, mr larry bond. :)
in short, i've been lucky.
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