CMC David Hobbs

Man with longest unbroken service in Navy re-enlists

By Mark Monday

David Hobbs of Clairemont knows the words virtually by heart. He should. His re-enlistment yesterday was his 12th.

Hobbs, a Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate aboard the carrier Ranger, has been on duty with the Navy since before Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II. With 41 years in, Hobbs has the longest continuous service of any person now in the Navy.

Shortly before noon yesterday, in a ceremony aboard the Ranger, Hobbs signed his name on re-enlistment papers. He rejoined for a two- year hitch that would take him beyond the Navy’s mandatory retirement age of 62.

In the forecastle, with the carrier’s massive anchor chains flanking Hobbs like a guard of honor, he intoned the words of the oath. At one point, he started to recite a phrase from the oath before it had been read to him.

The odor of paint wafted through the area, and the hum of the ship’s machinery was a backdrop for the ceremony as Hobbs told his wife, the ship’s captain, shipmates and guests:

“My chest is stuck out a little more today. I am probably the luckiest and proudest sailor in the U.S Navy today.”

Hobbs has had a Clairemont address for the last 27 years, he said, but he has not lived there a good deal of that time. He says proudly that he has made 27 over seas deployments.

His life is the Navy, he said, and “I didn’t want to retire.”

Hobbs, standing straight backed, nodded at a group of shipmates.

“See these people right here?” he said. “That’s what keeps me going, the Navy people.”

His Navy life started in San Diego. At 19 he graduated from the Naval Training Center in early December 1941. Hobbs was lounging in the barracks when word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came in.

“My first words,” he said yesterday, were: ‘I’m ready to get those bastards.’ ”

He didn’t have to wait long to get in the fray.

By Dec.10, Hobbs was at Pearl Harbor. There he joined the crew of the destroyer Shaw.

Within two months, the Shaw was sailing again-with Hobbs aboard.

During World War II, Hobbs won six battle stars. In the Korean War, he garnered nine.

Hobbs did not come from a Navy family. His father served in the Army during World War I and then returned to the coalmines of Petross, Tenn.

“I watched my dad struggling all through my years, slaving for nothing in the coal mines,” Hobbs said. “I decided I would never go into the coal mines.

“I never did.”

He knew what he didn’t want to do, and he knew what he liked.

“I had seen sailors coming back to town,” he said, “and I liked that uniform.”

Hobbs still likes that uniform, and Navy life.

“I’m proud to say I’m a master chief in the U.S. Navy and part of the team,” he said. “There is no place in my life for retirement.”

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