Written by Roger H. Still, Transportation Manager – Safety

At the ripe old age of 18 and just two weeks after graduating high school in February 1988, David
enlisted in the U.S. Navy—following his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. He reported to Naval
Training Center San Diego California for Basic Training. David enlisted as a Boatswain's Mate and his
assigned duties in that field would include skills such as maintaining the exterior surfaces of ships,
operating deck handling machinery and equipment, handling cargo, and operating small boats during a
number of evolutions including Maritime Interdiction boarding of suspect ships.

Being a Plank Owner of the USS Comstock

After Basic Training, David was assigned to the USS Comstock (LSD-45)—a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship. But there was a catch. The ship was in dry dock at Naval Support Activity New Orleans, Louisiana, still being built. David is a plank owner, as he was part of the ship’s first crew. In the Navy, a “plank owner” is an individual who was a member of the crew of a ship when that ship was placed into commission. Originally, this term applied only to crew members present at the ship’s first commissioning. Today, however, it is often applied to members of a recommissioning crew as well.

Over the course of the next 18 months, the crew would prepare the ship for its shakedown cruise or Sea Trial, as it is often called. Sea Trials simulate working conditions for the vessel to familiarize a crew with the new vessel and ensure all the ship’s systems are functional before the ship is commissioned. After commissioning, the USS Comstock and her crew were assigned to its homeport in San Diego. Along their route, the crew would have their first adventure, enduring the act of transiting the Panama Canal. It took 36 hours while land-based tugs connected via landlines slowly pulled them along. Little did David know then, but he would transit the canal three times in his military career.

On May 29, 1991, David departed Naval Station San Diego with USS Comstock on its maiden deployment as part of the USS Peleliu (LH5) Amphibious Readiness Group in support of Operation Desert Storm. En route to the Persian Gulf, the ship was redirected to the Philippines in support of Operation Fiery Vigil after Mt. Pinatubo erupted on June 16. First, they supported civilian evacuations from Cebu City from June 19 through 20. Then, they anchored at Naval Station Subic Bay from June 22 to 26 to clean and repair the ship. Afterward, they proceeded onto the Persian Gulf where they would support the U.S. Marine Landing Craft Air Cushion or LCAC-91 Hover Craft operations for the rest of the deployment before returning to San Diego in November of 1991. David transitioned back into civilian life upon their return.

Growing Up With the Navy

David said he was an average young kid who thought he knew it all and who had all the answers.

“I still remember getting on the bus heading to basic. The door closed and the fun started. They said sit down, shut up, and don’t speak unless spoken to. You are now the property of the U.S. Government,” said David. 

“My eyes opened wide and I said to myself, ‘Here we go.’”

He is still most grateful to the Navy for instilling in him what he calls the “key factors” he still lives by today—discipline, respect, honesty, and trustworthiness. David sums up how the military prepared him for Dot Transportation, Inc. (DTI) and the life of a truck driver in one word—safety. He said, just like in the Navy, you must always be aware of your surroundings when in the truck—whether it’s driving, a simple turn, or at a dock.

In December 2013, David changed careers and joined the Dot Foods California team.

David’s Life Today

During his off time, he enjoys riding his 2009 Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide and playing computer games like Valorant, Diablo 3, and Apex Legends. He has been married to his wonderful wife, Kathy, for 20 years, who he describes as keeping him grounded. They have four grown children–three sons, Alex, Taylor, and David, Jr.; and one daughter, Ashley.  

 From Dot/DTI – Thank you to all our great veterans for your service to our country!