Navy vet shares experience

This is Part One in a two-part series. Check back tomorrow for Part Two.

By Kylie Neel

Lincoln Parish resident Galen Turner, Lieutenant Commander, retired, served for the United States Navy for 21.5 years. At the beginning, though, his official title was cadet when he started his service in December of 1965. It took Cadet Turner almost two years to complete flight training, and it was the beginning of a long, rewarding journey. 

Throughout Turner’s journey in the Navy, he served many purposes and faced many challenges, but the first one after completing flight training was to get married.

He married his wife Suellen Turner on Oct. 7, 1967.

“It was the best decision of my life.” Turner said.  

From there, there were some promotions that were somewhat automatic within the Navy, and others took a little bit longer than usual.  Turner served two years of commission service and was promoted to lieutenant junior grade, and then lieutenant after that. He then was designated in a squadron.

“When you go through a squadron, they assign you a job to the squadron,” Turner said. “They assign you a job within, and the goal was to be the commanding officer of the squadron, but I never got there. Even though I never got to be a commanding officer, I have served as an Operations Officer, Administrative Officer, Maintenance Officer and a Safety Officer for different squadrons.”

One of the most exciting moments Tuner has about his time in the Navy was when he oversaw the men who operated the radar that brought the planes down at nighttime. This was for landing on the carrier, and that was part of air operations.

“We called it the carrier-controlled approach,” he said. “We talked to the pilots and made corrections for them to land on the carrier, making it a visual landing for the pilot.” 

Turner taught pilots to land on the carrier and, according to his son, was regarded as a great mentor to many pilots in the 1970s and 1980s.

Turner himself added that his experiences and memories in the Navy will last a lifetime, but it’s his time with family that helps keep him with a positive outlook.

“I filled my time after retirement with my wife and children, I was very fortunate to come home to them.” Turner said. “I have always been a hard worker, and I love working on cars and keeping myself busy, so it helps by keeping my mental health in check.”

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