Being a Catholic was very different from what I had experienced from religion before. There was a ritual to everything, and most of it was in Latin. I did not understand the Mass, and by the time the priest got to the parts spoken in English, I was almost in a trance; I heard him but I didn't pay much attention. Nevertheless, when I got into some real trouble in the Philippines, it was the Catholic Chaplain to whom I ran. My life was in danger and he immediately recognized the only solution was for the Navy to transfer me. Three months later, I was on my way to San Diego. So much for the Navy's quick response.
I was stationed on the U.S.S. Jason, AR-8, and guess where our first port of call was. That's right, the Philippines. The first night there, I had shore patrol. While patrolling like a good S.P., a young lady who was in the company of her next "mark," told me that the people who were after me wanted to see me. I didn't know her, nor can I explain how she knew me, but apparently they knew I had been stationed on the Jason, and they knew it was in port. I encountered them shortly after in a bar that my Judo and Karate instructor, Andy, managed. They obviously were there to "take care" of me, but Andy, who I discovered later was Philippine Mafia, walked over and whispered something in the leader's ear. They immediately left the bar. I asked him what he had said, and he replied, "I told them you were my friend." Like a guardian angel, he had sent them running. I never heard from any of them again. Praise God!
Following my year in San Diego, I was assigned to the Naval Air Base in Pensacola. After an uneventful two years in a training squadron, I applied for and was accepted to the staff of the Navy Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels. About the same time of my transfer, I was given orders to represent our base in the regional touch football tournament. At that time, I had been working every evening on a church project which consisted of repairing the frontier village we used for a festival fundraiser. When I told the priest that I had to leave for a while, he went ballistic. I had been one of only four who was there every night to work and he saw my going as a betrayal. I never went back to that church or any other.
Not long after I left the church, I became acquainted with philosophy at the local junior college. I decided that religion was nothing but man-made superstition, and I became a die-hard atheist. What I had lacked in zeal when it came to religion, I certainly made up in my ridicule of the fools who believed in a god. I felt intellectually superior and enjoyed challenging any and all who believed, regardless of which religion they ignorantly chose. College had opened my eyes and I enthusiastically campaigned against what I saw as intellectual slavery. Thank God my life did not end then!