Although Scott Black served in the Navy for only eight years before embarking on a successful civilian career, he is quick to point out that “everything that I am today and everything that I’ve achieved as a professional, a father, and a husband is the result of my Navy service,” including the experiences that form the basis of his new novel, Lockdown, a military thriller set aboard a fast frigate.
Out of appreciation for his time in the Navy, Black has decided to donate 10% of the proceeds from his book to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and promote the Society’s work on his website and other promotional materials. “The doors that were opened to me—because I was a service member and because of the training that I had—were limitless.”
Black enlisted in the Navy through the delayed entry program in 1981 when he was a junior in high school in New Jersey. “I came from very humble means,” he explained. He grew up with a single mom who died when Black was only 12. He was left in the charge of the child welfare system until his maternal grandmother took custody of him.
One of the only male figures in his life was an uncle, Bill Wood. “We weren’t very close—he lived in Delaware,” Black recalled. “But he was someone whom I looked up to. I convinced myself at a young age that I wanted to join the Navy because of him.”
Black’s grandfather was also a veteran, serving in the Navy during World War II, which inspired his Uncle Bill Wood’s own enlistment at age 17. “Scott was probably 11 or 12 when I went into the Navy,” said Bill Wood, “which, unbeknownst to me, had a big impact on him. I saw combat in Vietnam. I thought I’d be on a ship off the coast, but I ended up assigned to a 31-foot fiberglass boat with machine guns, working with special ops people. When I came back, Scott heard some of the exploits I’d been through and it moved him.”
When it was his turn to enlist, because of his interest in welding, Black signed on to be a hull maintenance technician. His excellent performance in “A” school earned Black the chance to choose his first duty station, so he opted for duty aboard the USS MILLER, a fast frigate out of Newport, RI. “I ended up receiving push-button petty officer out of “A” school,” Black recalled. “I didn’t have to strike for any rate. All I had to do was complete the indoctrination period and I would skip from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to third class petty officer (E4).”
Fortunately for Black, his mess cooking assignment landed him in the chief’s mess, where he had the opportunity to sit in, informally, on enlisted surface warfare specialist (ESWS) training sessions. “I listened and learned quickly, and when I advanced to third class petty officer, my senior chief said ‘you need to get your ESWS qualification.’ I studied, passed my board review and received a shiny surface warfare insignia pin, as a PO3.”
After finishing his three-year tour on MILLER, Black applied to “C” school for non-destructive testing (NDT), the next step for hull technicians. “I was tired of getting dirty,” Black laughed, “I wanted to do a cleaner job. And I was never one to shy away from a challenge; NDT school is very challenging.” He graduated number one in his class and received a college scholarship and an assignment to the Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity (SIMA-NRMF) in Newport, RI. After that tour, Black decided to leave the Navy and explore civilian life. He and his wife wanted to have children—their daughters are now 23 and 19.
Now, 30 years later, Black’s careers in operations and manufacturing have afforded him the opportunity to write a book based on a crime committed in 1985 while he was serving onboard MILLER. Black emphasized that Lockdown is a novel, not a memoir, but the premise of a ship’s officer fatally stabbed by an enlisted person is a true story. “When the murder occurred, we were in the middle of a hurricane near Bermuda. We raced to Newport, RI and anchored out in the bay for three days while they searched the ship and interrogated everyone.” Black explained that the conclusion of the real-life investigation and ensuing trial was rather ordinary, so he created a more exciting end in his book.
When he published Lockdown, Black knew he wanted to give back to the military community, and was especially concerned about veterans. He asked his Uncle Bill to recommend an organization that serves veterans, and his uncle suggested the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. “I knew about the Society through the annual fund drives,” Wood explained. “I never needed to use their services, but I knew there was a lot of good that came from them. I’d heard how many people the Society served. I knew how hard it was for me as a junior enlisted to get by—and I didn’t have children—so I could only imagine what it was like for someone who was deployed with a family at home. I knew Navy-Marine Corps Relief would step in to help and I always thought highly of the Society.”
To order Lockdown, visit http://scottblackauthor.com. Watch the book trailer here.