At 17-years-old Bud Dilapi (Turtle Clan) enlisted in the Navy. The year was 1959 when Bud answered the siren’s call: “Join the Navy. See the World.” And see the world he did. From the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, Bud sailed far and wide.
And what is his favorite memory from his seafaring days?
Assigned to a destroyer out of Rhode Island, Bud sailed to Saudi Arabia, the Suez Canal and the North Atlantic. Exotic locales for a kid from Oneida. And his was the first American war ship to sail on the Black Sea.
Ports of call that included Athens, Naples, Cannes and Istanbul sound like those of a luxury cruise liner – which is way off course. Ask Bud.
Nevertheless, Bud recounts standout experiences.
“Barcelona was beautiful, and we were in Jamaica in 1962 when they got their independence. Wow, that was a party,” said Bud. “And I have to say I was in the best physical shape of my life while in the Navy.”
“The day I was discharged was the best part of the Navy,” laughed Bud. “I enlisted to get out of town because there was nothing around here. I went down to the old post office in Oneida and signed up.”
When he was in port stateside he’d come home to see his family.
“I lived with grandmother then on Marble Hill,” said Bud, who was a third class petty officer upon his departure from the Navy. “Good old grandma [Lena Babcock]. My aunt would pick me up at the bus station and grandma was sitting in the backseat even if it was 2 a.m.”
“When she died we had her funeral up at the little church on Marble Hill,” Bud continued. “She was the last one in the family to have it there.”
In 1965, Bud was discharged. He remembers it vividly. “Al Phillips (Turtle Clan) picked me up and we went out for the evening.”
A version of this story first appeared in The Oneida, Issue 1, Vol. 14 and was edited for the web.