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Just A Sailor

When Steve Waterman left home in 1964, he was looking for the most exciting job the U.S. Navy had to offer, so he became an underwater photographer.

Waterman joined an elite group that numbered only fifteen men in the entire navy--men always on-call for unusual and interesting assignments. Yet it was the time Steve spent in Vietnam with Underwater Demolition Team 13 that deserves special respect. Existing in a state of adrenaline-driven alertness, UDT-13 men carried out their harrowing missions. Stealthily, silently, they crept through Vietnam's waterways, never knowing if the next bend in the river concealed VC patiently waiting to spring a fiery, murderous ambush.

Employing the wit and unvarnished honesty that got him into trouble more than once during his thirteen years in the navy, Waterman unfolds a compelling tale of an ordinary sailor who chose to serve his country during one of the most controversial, challenging times in its history.

Author: Steven L. Waterman

Table of Contents

1 Why Not Join the Navy?
2 Boot Camp
3 Boot Leave
4 Pensacola
5 Photo School
6 Naval Air Station, Oceana
7 More Time at Oceana
8 Underwater Swimmers School
9 Combat Camera Group
10 Panama City
11 Back Home from the Azores
12 Heading for the West Coast
13 Reporting for Duty with UDT-13

14 Overseas with Team 13
Photo section
• Civilian Adventures
• Combat Camera
• Vietnam
• Miscellaneous
15 Back in the States, San Diego
16 Combat Camera Group Again
17 NavSpecWarGruLant
18 The SHAD Project
19 Italy
20 Naval School, Diving & Salvage
21 USS Ortolan, ASR-22
About the Author

Front cover Back cover

Expect your shipment via USPS
within 10-14 business days of ordering.
$19.95 Add to Cart

Paperback specifications :

  • perfect bound on white paper
  • 328 pages
  • 6" x 9" or 229 x 152 mm
  • eighty black & white photographs


  • History : Military - Naval
  • History : Military - Vietnam War
  • Biography & Autobiography : Military


“Written with humor, a wealth of detail, and gripping combat scenes, Vietnam veteran Steven L. Waterman’s memoir of his distinguished service as a Navy diver delivers a vivid, true picture of an amazing military life.”

–W. E. B. Griffin

“Steve Waterman was anything but Just a Sailor. He weaves a no-holds-barred story of his unique navy career with humor and an easygoing style. A great read!”

—Robert Gormly,
Former CO of SEAL Team Six, Author of Combat Swimmer

“Just a Sailor pulls no punches. Writing with astonishing honesty (and no doubt a mischievous gleam in his eye), Steve Waterman has produced a big, brawling memoir that shows us a side of the U.S. Navy that most of us have never seen before.”

—Tess Gerritsen,
New York Times bestselling author

“Steve Waterman's voice is very unique—gruff, startlingly honest and dead-pan funny. This is an engaging and often hilarious memoir.”

—Stephanie Gutmann,
Author of The Kinder, Gentler Military

“Just a Sailor offers a rare glimpse into the creation of a navy diver. Through training and into combat, Waterman paints a vivid picture of what life in the navy is really like.”

—Sherry Sontag,
Coauthor of Blind Man's Bluff: The untold story of American Submarine Espionage

“Every now and then, I encounter a book that evokes “the way it was” in such a manner as to awaken long-dormant memories and stimulate sounds, smells, and feelings that bring me back to places I’ve been and things I’ve done….That is the genius of Steve Waterman—to capture a decade-plus of Navy life in such a way as to make those who were “there” think they were there again. He also enables those who weren’t there to experience what it was like to be a diver, photographer, combat swimmer, Viet Cong-hunter, and “just a sailor” in the U.S. Navy of the 1970s. Just a Sailor belongs on the bookshelf of every student of that era.
Two thumbs-up!”

—Larry Bailey,
Retired Navy SEAL Captain

“...an excellent autobiography of an ordinary person living an extraordinary life. His narration is casual, informative, and easy to understand. Expect to laugh, learn, and ponder upon the passages from Just A Sailor. Believe me, Steve Waterman is far more than meets the eye!”

—Katherine A. Skopik,
I/O Psychology Student, Middle Tennessee State University

"If you love adventure, the Navy, photography, and diving, Just A Sailor, by former Navy photographer/diver Steve Waterman is a must read! Just A Sailor is a no non-sense account of what it is like to serve as an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy with the elitist of the elite.

"It’s a story that any Sailor, particularly enlisted people, will be able to relate to; of hardship, travel, low pay, dangerous work environments, and combat. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read dealing with the pre-PC Navy. Waterman has painted a vivid picture of what Navy life "used" to be like."

—Art Giberson
Author of Photojournalist Blue Ghost: The Ship That Couldn’t Be Sunk, Eyes of the Fleet: A History of Naval Photography

"I found Just A Sailorto be a fast-paced, interesting book that was hard to put down. … a good picture of part of our military not usually seen. I write from a background of two years service in an Air Force Special Forces unit.

—Stephen Bennett
MSGT USAF Retired, Saint George, Maine

 "As a veteran myself, including a tour in Vietnam, I have avoided reading a lot of books just because of the memories they may stir up. [This book] is an extremely well-written book with self-confidence, humor, and honesty about himself and his short comings. I was impressed by his intelligent writings and his ability to make the military as understandable as possible. I recommend this book if, for nothing, else the enjoyment of reading a well-written book, but also to give you an insight into the world of a Navy combat photographer."

—Gary L. Thompson
Eugene, Oregon

“Just A Sailor... NOT!!!!! From the brown water of Vietnam to the blue of the Caribbean and the cold water off New England, Waterman’s adventures both entertain and educate us about the “other” Navy, the Navy of Special Warfare, salvage divers, and the underwater photographer. This book is definitely a page turner!”

—Robert J. Skinner
Memphis, TN

“Waterman tells his autobiographical story in such a modest manner, it is easy to forget how brave he is. …he did things few in the world can claim. …a tale of his experiences as an underwater cameraman, salvage operator, and commercial diver. Highly recommend!”



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