Insights > Veterans Spotlight: Larry Gilbert & Roy Branscum
Veterans Spotlight: Larry Gilbert & Roy Branscum
In celebration of Veterans Week, today we feature two Entergy employees who served in the military. Larry Gilbert helps power life for us at our White Bluff plant in Arkansas, and Roy Branscum is a fossil maintenance planner. Larry and Roy both served in the United States Navy.
Joining the United States Navy for me was truly a life time adventure as well as an Honor to serve our Great Nation. My experience as a “Radioman” aboard the destroyer escort “ U.S.S. Barbey” was always exciting with a variety of military exercises with Aircraft Carriers and battle ships.
I never will forget the time when we were on our way to Hawaii and after about a day and a half in that direction, the Ship’s propeller just fell off and sunk to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. (Our ship had just been released from a six month outage in Long Beach with the new propeller.
Therefore, we were literally drifting with no control of ship’s direction until a large tow barge brought us back to Dry Dock, during which time we were sitting ducks performing battle station drills and exercises. At that point in time, I became more aware of the importance of my responsibilities as a Radioman to help facilitate communications within the fleet command via UHF, VHF, and Long Wave Radio.
This valuable experience as a young man has been the hallmark of anchoring my career toward the many and various jobs, certified training, and formal education and many other benefits I have received.
Your memory has a way of remembering the good times, boot camp for instance I remember our first pass and review for a grade, in front of the high ranking officer of the base. We were the last company in formation. Now we practiced and practiced by listing to a radio, with just our company out practicing.
When the radio said forward march our company of 80 or so would march forward as one. The problem was when all the companies lined up (us at the end) for the pass in review, only the lead company was supposed to march when commanded to by the loud speaker. Well with all the companies lined up when the speaker said forward march, the lead company and our company proceeded to march forward. Our sister company in front of us didn’t move.
Well a chain of 80 guys 6 across lined tallest to shortest is hard to stop on a dime, everyone pushes in to the guy in front of them and on and on. We ended up marching a good third of the way into our sister company before we were able to stop. The ladies in our sister company were taken completely by surprise and most were knocked over, along with several guys trying not trample women from our sister company.
At the time it wasn’t funny, nor the next 4 hours on Division sidewalk of extreme Physical training, but now I wish I had a video of it. That has to be one of the funniest memories.
One of the scariest moments was during the Gulf War, it was a little after 0200 and an Electronic Warfare Tech ran into berthing yelling someone had locked on to us with a fire control radar, waking up and realizing what was being said and about that instance the ship went to General Quarters, I heard chaff (missile defense) being shot into the air as I proceeded forward and starboard to my battle station.
I didn’t realize at the time, but later just how well trained we were. We were set and ready in just a few minutes. After sometime we got the all clear. I never heard who had locked on to us, but can only assume it was a friendly that locked on to us by mistake. No missiles launched that I know of, but the not knowing that morning was extreme.
The worst moment was during a North Atlantic cruise where one I my good friends BM3 John Eric Potter was cleaning rope used to go between ships during ur-reps. The ropes regularly got greased up, John had recently made E-4 and was over a crew to clean this rope by scrubbing it with a deck broom with soap and water then letting it out through chock in the side of ship and down into the ocean to be rinsed and cleaned.
A change of the watch on the bridge, had the new Officer of the Deck to increase speed. The increase in speed either caused the line to be tangle in the prop or just the drag in the wake pulled it out. Instead of losing the line, John stomped on the rope. The rope then wrapped around his leg and pulled him through the chock and out to sea. We did a man overboard but were never able to recover him.
Still to this day it gets me how something so simple, can turn tragic in an instance.