Friday, May 24, 2013

My American Dream

I was born in the Philippines over 87 years ago
by Robert N.

I was born on December 29, 1925 in the Philippines. My father, siblings-and I came to America on December 23, 1945. A few years later, I served two years in the United States Army. I was discharged on September 23, 1952, and I settled in Monterey, California. I couldn't find a job there, so I went to Los Angeles to seek employment. Lockheed hired me later that year.

My first job was as a machine shop helper. I then worked as a drill press operator B, and then as drill press operator A. I transferred to the milling machine department, because now I wanted to be a full-fledged machinist. My chance to become a machinist opened up when I qualified to become an apprentice. I was disappointed when the machinist program was already filled. The jigs and fixture builder was the only opening left for me, so I accepted. I completed the program in late 1957, and I became a jigs and fixture builder journeyman.

I left Lockheed in 1959 for almost two years, but I returned in 1961 as a rehire. Through thick and thin, downgrading, and layoffs, I managed to stay with the company until I retired as a tool designer in 1985. I spent many years at Skunk Works, notably working on the F-117. I helped build the fuselage jig, as it was designed in a vertical position with its nose down and the tail up. Consequently, it was a tall jig with three working platforms. Workers assembling the tail part of the fuselage spent time climbing up and down the third platform. I am not sure just how long it took to complete the assembly from this tall jig. Lockheed and the Air Force were looking at ways to increase production or increase the rate of completion. The plan was to redesign the jig such that the assembly would be built on its side, left side up and right side down, if and when the budget was authorized by the Air force.

In the middle 1984, I put in a request to transfer to the tool design department and l was accepted. There was a likelihood that a budget would be accepted for the new jig design, which was assigned to me. My design checker and I accomplished the new design, and it worked well. After a few more months of working in the department, I decided to retire as a tool designer while I was in a salary category. I retired in July 1985, and last fall, I celebrated my 87th birthday.

I worked on the F-117!