WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Bob Layton joined the Naval Reserves when he was just a teenager.
“That meant I didn’t have to go to boot camp.”
He said he was already climbing rank, before he ever graduated high school.
“I built these,” Layton said.
He’s been building radios for decades, and worked with electronics during his days as a self-described, “anchor cranker.”
“That’s just a slang name for a Navy man,” Layton said.
He knows a few other slang terms as well.
“You were an officer, but you were a petty, which meant you weren’t very much,” Layton said.
The Petty Officer 3rd Class even jokes about what they called the aircraft carrier they were on the USS Bonhomme Richard.
“This was in Korea,” Layton said.
He remembers that day well.
“I had just got the sonar really tweaked up,” Layton said.
The electronics technician said that was in perfect timing.
“That night I got a target, and it wouldn’t identify itself,” Layton said.
He was on lookout, on the night watch.
“It was a submarine,” Layton said. “That kind of scared me because the Korean War had broken out that day.”
Despite some terrifying times, Layton was always quick to make others laugh, even when he was called to the Admiral’s office, for a repair.
Now, the phonograph works perfectly, and I go back to my shop,” Layton said.
He said he then got in trouble for not completing the job.
“My division officer told me that I hadn’t fixed your phonograph, and the admiral said, it is all my fault,” Layton said.
He said it turned out to be operator error, and that’s when his superior said this.
“Layton you are the first one I have ever put on report, and taken off of report, in practically five minutes,” Layton said.
He said he often got good laughs from the brass even during Captain inspections.
“Then, you pulled up your leg, you put it forward, and that was to show if you had the correct color of socks on,” Layton said.
That wasn’t the only time he dressed for the occasion.
“One time they talked me into dressing up like a woman,” Layton said.
He also had some interesting times working with NASA.
“I was actually designing these antennas,” Layton said.
He also built stations to track satellites.
“A lot of times you couldn’t talk about what you were working with,” Layton said.
Layton did talk a lot about the Korean culture, and he even tried his hand as a rickshaw driver.
He said he really enjoyed his time in the Navy, once he landed on the Prairie.
He said it was much better only having 800 sailors on board.
“We were a floating repair shop,” Layton said.
He said if he had drawn that ship first.
“I would have stayed in the Navy for at least 20 years,” Layton said.
His Navy days gave him the opportunity to travel the world.
“I would say this one was built before I was in the Navy,” Layton said.
He said it was his time in service that really launched his electronics career that spanned decades.
Layton said his father is credited with saving watermelon worldwide. He said he got a patent on his Oklahoma seed, and the fruit paid off in royalties for decades.