I have been searching for this book for over 25 years, and 20 of those years I have spent scouring the internet and eBay in search of this evasive and rare book. What book is it? I’ll tell you in a moment.
On June 11, 1973 I joined the US Navy and headed off to Boot Camp in Great Lakes, IL and landed in Company 73-192. My Boot Camp lasted 8 weeks and I graduated on August 8, 1973, and I mention this because during those 8 weeks you live with approximately 60 other guys. You eat and sleep with these guys, and you also watch each others back…you become close friends and in some cases LIFELONG friends and others you lose track of them and eventually forget their names.
The one thing you have to remember these shipmates is a book called “The Keel”. It’s like an annual in that it has pictures of what it was like to be in Boot Camp and also includes a portrait and group shot of all your shipmates…it even has candids of your everyday activities.
I bought this book and kept it for about 10 years, however at some point during one of my “moves” it was either lost or inadvertently thrown away and once I realized it lost, the “Book Quest” began to try and find another copy. Unfortunately they only made as many copies as there were sailors in each company…and in my case that would be about 60 copies.
I have contacted the Navy, the publisher, the store in Great Lakes, EVEN the Library of Congress and no one had a copy. I have done endless internet searches on Google, eBay, Facebook and Bookstores. Nothing…I’ve gotten close, but not my exact book.
The names of my shipmates that I do remember were either too common (Howard Johnson, Donald Dunn, etc) and I just can’t wade through them all, OR I only remember their last names or nicknames…and for search purposes it just doesn’t work at all.
I did get real close to getting a copy about 5 years ago…I found the ONE GUY in my company that had an unusual name, Steve Knauf. Actually, I didn’t find him, but I found his 20 year old daughter on Facebook. I made contact with his Daughter on Facebook and explained who I was and what I wanted, and that I was wanting to talk to her Dad. She told me that he had passed away from cancer 10 years earlier and that they were in the process of dedicating a C130 with his name inscribed on it. She said she had seen the book and even photos of me that her Dad had in a box. She was also in the process of getting married and told me that she would send me the book to copy (digitize) and send me the photos to scan, and then I would return them to her. That was about 5 years ago…she eventually dropped out of Facebook and I have not heard back from her.
So “The Book Quest” continues on to this day. I still look for the book EVERYDAY in way or another (although mostly on eBay). I just hope I can find a copy and look at it one more time before I leave this earth.