I stayed in the reserves all the way through Seminary and for the first four years of my ministry experience. I was able to stay active until January 1, 1991. That enabled me to earn a retirement that I started to collect when I turned 60. The 9 years from 1982 to 1991 were full weekend reserve meetings and two weeks each year on Active Duty For Training. I took advantage of my two week vacation every summer with pay. We went to Jacksonville, Fla, New Orleans, Corpus Christi, San Deigo and then I did some local ACDUTRA as well at the reserve center helping out the station keepers with admin duties or whatever!

During these years I drilled for five years at the Reserve Training Center, Grand Prairie, Tx. There were Chaplains assigned to those reserve units, but they were all involved with ministries on Sunday so I was given the privilege of leading divine services on Sunday mornings. There was a unique collection of people who would attend. Mostly, just to get out of work, but I took advantage of it. I did that in Tyler, Texas and in Southfield, Michigan as well.

During my Seminary years I applied for the Navy Chaplain Student program again, but was turned down because there was no quota for my denomination. So I waited for four years and applied for a direct appointment after graduating from Seminary. I was again turned down because there were no billets for my evangelical denominational endorsing agent. I didn’t think anymore about it for years. I had received a call to Hillside Bible Chapel in Farmington Hills, Mi,  before graduating from Seminary and accepted that calling.  Then Moved on to Blair after that. This is all covered in my “ministry” blog.  it was in 1998, I believe, when I read an article from the Wall Street Journal about Navy Chaplains and candidates suing the Navy because of prejudice in selections, promotions, assignments, and retention. I got the email address of the Lawyer, Art Schulcz, and told him my story. He called me within the week and explained what was happening and added my name to the class action law suit. We won that law suit in 2002. You would be stunned to hear what had been going on behind closed doors with the Navy Chaplain hierarchy in their plot to keep evangelical chaplains out of the Navy.  The lawsuit called for redress of grievances but I wasn’t suing for money. The goal was to be certain that the Navy selection process remained fair for the more evangelical chaplain applicants. Well, the case dragged on and on after the appeal by the Navy, and we lost on the appeal. But Art kept the ball rolling and he also appealed and won a new hearing. Kathy and I made a trip to Washington DC and I gave an 8 hour deposition for our case. It was pretty grueling. Art Schulz is a great lawyer, a strong believer, and handled the case really well. I got a little too emotional at times and I think I didn’t help things as much as I could have.  He and his wife put us up in their home in Vienna, Maryland and we had a good time getting to know them. We went out to dinner the night after the deposition. The case went to the Supreme Court.  It is referred to as Larsen Vs United States Navy.  The supreme court refused to hear the case, because they say the issue is mute and that the Navy has established more equitable methods for all concerned. There are still some loose ends to that lawsuit that are being tied up even as I write, I guess. But I haven’t heard for some time. I’ve seen several articles about evangelical chaplains being selected for appointment and advancement in the Navy and I like to think I may have played some small part in the Navy becoming more open to those of an evangelical perspective.

I received my notification of eligibility for retired pay, which cannot be revoked once issued, and I’ve been blessed with my retirement benefits since I turned 60.  I have an “indefinite” ID card and access to all commissary and exchange priviliges and have health insurance with Tri-care for life which will fall back to medicare when I turn 65. It will always be with me as a supplemental.

I’ve always been proud of my years in the Navy and am thankful for having had the opportunity to serve our country. When the city of Blair built their veteran’s memoral wall, my name was included with many others who served their country in one of the armed forces.  I’ve ordered jackets, coffee cups and badges from the internet with my old ship’s names on them. I’ve researched the website and found the one for the Rathburne just a couple years ago. It had a watch bill from Christmas day 1974 published on the front page. I’m proud to have served as the OOD (officer of the Deck) for two watches on that day aboard the USS RATHBURNE (DE 1057).

After publishing this article I received an updated email (May 11, 2011) from Art Schulcz, the Attorney. He’s still fighting the case with the Navy and has submitted more facts to the Washington DC, district court for consideration.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case as of 2012, so that marks the end of this episode. It was an interesting experience and it ended as well as could be expected. The Navy insists that the appointment of Navy Chaplains, their assignments, promotions, etc. are not discriminatory in any way now and that they have appointed many evangelical chaplains into their ranks. That was the goal.