MMCM(SS) Greg Peterman enlisted with the Navy at the age of 18 in his hometown of Cortez, Colo., in 1972. There were no special circumstances prompting him to join. His family had no history of Naval service.
“I came from a rather poor area with not many opportunities for work so I decided on the Navy,” he said.
Peterman served in the Navy for 20 years and looks back fondly on his time spent in the silent service. Peterman, the married father of two grown children, now resides in Slidell, Louisiana. He retired in 1993.
First assigned to the USS Sculpin SSN-590, he also served on the USS Plunger SSN-595, the USS Gurnard SSN-662, the USS Andrew Jackson SSBN-619B, the USS Dixon AS-37 and several other school commands. Peterman was stationed in Port Orchard from 1974-1977 on the USS Sculpin while completing a refueling overhaul. Since that time, he has been all over the world with the Pacific Fleet.
“They called us the silent service for a reason,” Peterman said.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s crews had to sign documents that prevented them from discussing certain events that happened during the Cold War. He’s still restricted from discussing his experiences.
“I would have played college football, gotten my degree in something and probably never have left southwestern Colorado,” Peterman said.
Instead, Peterman traveled the world. His fondest memory while serving was the day he qualified to serve on submarines while stationed on the USS Sculpin SSN-590. He acknowledged the qualification required a lot of hard work but the feeling of accomplishment he had remains something he considers very important to this day.
When Peterman enlisted, the recruiting motto was: “Join the Navy and See the World.” He reminisced about those days.
“We worked hard. But we were also allowed to play hard and have a good time.”
The Navy of today, however, uses the recruiting motto: “The Global Force For Good.”
“Today’s Navy works as hard if not harder,” he said.”But most of the fun stuff is no longer politically correct or allowed.”
The Navy of today is working within the constraints of today’s society, Peterman explained
“In my day, we did things to fit in with society then,” he said. “Today’s society is very politically correct so today’s Navy is very politically correct.”
Despite the changes in climate, Peterman said, “The Navy is still filled with great people doing great things. They just have a very different atmosphere to do it in.”
Peterman was well-prepared for retirement.
“When I retired (from the Navy) I already had a job lined up,” he said.
He had been planning his retirement from the Navy at the age of 48. Despite his extensive legwork, however, the plan fell apart and he noted, “I still survived.”
Completely retired for ten years, Peterman credits good financial planning, sound investments and his Navy retirement for his current financial security. The training and skills he obtained while in the Navy were invaluable as well.
“My skills of being a nuclear trained machinist’s mate directly took me into the civilian nuclear industry,” he said. “From there I moved into the oil and gas sector where I used my Navy training to set up preventive maintenance programs for large off-shore oil rigs.”
That part was easy, Peterman quipped.
“The only challenge I had was finding enough prior and retired Navy guys to fill the jobs in the company I worked for,” he said.
For those looking to retire, Peterman offers this advice:
“Recent vets, make sure everything is documented in your medical record and service record before you get out or retire,” he said. “You earned all the good deals. So make sure you have the documentation to use them.”
Peterman added this last thought:
“I had a mentor that told me to get every qualification I could get (because) that was the key to success,” he said. “He was right and to this day I approach everything like that.”