Scott Lawson was disc jockey aboard helicopter carrier USS New Orleans

Scott Lawson was a disc jockey in the U.S. Navy. From ’91 to ’95 he was the voice of the USS New Orleans, a helicopter carrier, based in San Diego used by the Marines.

“I never had great high school grades, so college wasn’t an easy option for me,” Lawson, who today is the editor of the North Port Sun, recalls. “My older brother had been in the Navy. He told me I could get my military service job worked out before I went in if I talked to the recruiter when I joined up. That’s what I did.
“I had just seen the movie, ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ staring Robin Williams. After seeing that movie I knew I didn’t want to go in the Army. I wanted to be a Navy disc jockey — it’s what I signed up for.”
After boot camp at Great Lakes Training Center outside Chicago and nine months more of public relations training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. he was assigned to the New Orleans for the next four years.
“Aboard ship you have your main job, but then you have these other jobs,” he said. “For the first three months I worked on the flight deck. It was probably the most dangerous job I had in the Navy. You were walking around helicopters with their rotors going.
imaOfficer Second Class Scott Lawson awaits a day of giving tours on his ship, USS New Orleans (LPH-11), while it was in port in San Diego in 1995. Lawsonwas a journalist in the Navy for five years. Photo providedge

Officer Second Class Scott Lawson awaits a day of giving tours on his ship, USS New Orleans (LPH-11), while it was in port in San Diego in 1995. Lawson was a journalist in the Navy for five years. Photo provided

“My job on deck was to make sure the Marines getting in and out of the helicopters didn’t walk into a rotor.

“Another dangerous job I had was unloading ammunition aboardship for a deployment. There were boxes of missiles and bombs. You were sitting there on this really hot ship thinking about how much explosive power you had and it was right over the fuel tanks. If something went wrong it’s over very fast.”
When Lawson wasn’t unloading the ship or watching out for the Marines he was the ship’s voice. He ran the SITE TV operation. This was the shipboard training and information center.
“The very end of the movie ‘Apollo 13’ was shot board the New Orleans,” he said. “In the movie their space capsule was put aboard our ship.”
Lawson worked with Tom Hanks, Jim Bacon, and other movie stars behind the camera while they were aboard.
“I was the go-between, between Hollywood and the Navy. I gave Tom Hanks a tour of the
ship.
“I can look at the move today and tell my 10-year-old daughter I was directly behind the camera when that shot was taken. Some of my shipmates were in the movie — Skivinski, Elliott, the captain.
“The New Orleans went on two deployments while I was aboard. Both of them were in the Middle East.
Our first deployment was in 1993. It was to Mogadishu—‘Blackhawk Down Time.’ We were rerouted from going to the Persian Gulf and we spent 90 days sailing in circles off the coast of Mogadishu.
“During this deployment we got a break for a few days and went into a small island called Seychelles for a little R & R,” Lawson said. “We hadn’t had a mail call in three months. When we got our first mail it was a bunch of government forms. There was no candy, no letters from home. They didn’t come for another two or three days.
“Our second deployment was a lot of island hopping. We went from San Diego to Hong Kong. From there we went to Singapore and from there to the Persian Gulf. We got off the boat at Kuwait City for a few days. It was three or four years after the Gulf War ended and the people of Kuwait were still very thankful for what we did to protect them.
At the end of ’96 Lawson was discharged from the Navy. He got a job at a small newspaper back in Indiana. He spent the next five years there working and going to college. Lawson got married and went to work the Times of Northwest Indiana, a large daily outside Chicago where he served as night editor.
Almost three years ago he decided he’d like a 9 a.m to 5 p.m. job. So he moved south and went to work for the Sun as editor of the paper’s North Port bureau.
He and his wife, Sarah, have one daughter: Elizabeth.

Scott Lawson 2019. Photo provided

 

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. and is republished with permission.

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