Reporter: “So you were in WWII and you smoked? When did you actually start smoking?”
CDR Minnich: “I served in WWII, at the end, aboard the U.S.S. Pine Island (AV12) in Antarctica, in 1946. I started smoking before I joined the Navy at age 17. At enlistment, I was up to about half a pack a day – they were Camels. In Hawaii, around 1951 – 1952, I quit cold turkey, mainly because I was on the swim team and going to the gym. In 1955, though, I began again, and increased how many I smoked due to my stressful job in engineering – running the plant on the ship. Over time, I was on three different destroyers, and got up to smoking two packs a day.”
Reporter: “And how about when you were in Korea and Vietnam?”
CDR Minnich: “I was in Korea around 1950, on a ship headed to the Philippines. I got stationed at the American Embassy. I was smoking a pack a day then – Camels, no filters. I was then stationedon USS Genesee, a gas tanker, which had a crew of about 80, of whom at least 60 percent smoked, and they were all pack-a-day smokers. Smoking was never allowed on deck, only inside. I was commissioned (as officer) in 1955.
I quit smoking in 1963 in Washington, D.C., while on shore duty. At that time I was smoking two and a half packs a day, but I quit cold turkey. After that, I never smoked again.”
Reporter: “What about smoking on the ship and on land, isn’t it a hazard that would give away position, from the heat, the smoke, the light from the lit end?”
CDR Minnich: “The Navy has what is called a ‘smoking lamp,’ which signifies when the crew can smoke and when they cannot.
Reporter: “How do the military get their cigarettes?”
CDR Minnich: “Oh, well, cigarettes are pretty easy to come by, I mean, they’re at the bases, at ports and in towns, where they were pretty cheap, and just about everywhere.”