Retired U.S. Navy Comm. John Tull Jr. has been out of the service for nearly as long as he was in, but he continues to serve and give back to his country and community.
Tull was born and raised in Bosque Farms, the son of the late John T. Tull Sr., a U.S. Navy veteran, and the late Nadine Y. Tull. He grew up in one of the “original” Bosque Farms houses on 7 1/2 acres of farm land.
“My folks moved to Bosque Farms in August 1952, and I was born in June 1953,” Tull said. “There were a lot of dairies. We had permanent pasture and alfalfa, so I was a farm kid.”
Tull’s parents both worked for then Sandia Base — his father was a lithographer and ran the defense nuclear print shop on base, while his mother worked in the housing office.
Tull had several examples of duty while growing up, including Carl Meeker, the owner of Atex gas station in Bosque Farms who also served in the Navy. However, it was his father’s influence that led him to a life of service. Tull Sr. was a Navy reservist, who served in both World War II and the Korean conflict as a chief petty officer.
Tull graduated from Los Lunas High School in 1971, and in the fall, he started his studies at the University of New Mexico.
“They both told me that if I wanted to go into the service, I should go to school, get my degree and go in as an officer,” Tull remembers. “So that’s what I did. I went to the NROTC unit at UNM and told them I’d like to join. I was in the program there for four years.”
CDR John Tull, public affairs officer, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command speaking at his retirement ceremony in San Diego, Calif., in January 2000.
LCDR John Tull was in Eskan Village, Saudi Arabia, near Riyadh, February 1991.
In May 1975, he graduated with a degree in journalism and received his commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. It was the beginning of a career that gave him opportunities he’s forever grateful for.
“You could get in there and have a significant amount of responsibility at a young age,” he said. “My first assignment was on the U.S.S. America, an aircraft carrier that was home-ported in Norfolk, Va.”
Tull was on board the carrier until 1978 having completed three deployments — two in the Mediterranean Sea and one to South America. He remembers thinking to himself how lucky he was.
“What other occupation could I have chosen? On the America I was able to qualify as an underway officer of the deck,” he said proudly.
An OOD is a watchstanding duty officer on a surface ship who is tasked with certain duties and responsibilities. While at sea, the OOD is stationed on the bridge and is charge of navigation and safety of the ship. He is also in charge of directing the ship when it encounters other ships at sea.
On the America, Tull held different positions, including as the sonar officer, educational services officer and the public affairs officer.
Tull’s other tours of duty in his career included Pentagon tours in Washington, D.C., with the Navy Broadcasting Service and the Navy’s Chief of Naval Information. He did an overseas tour in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, as PAO for Commander, Naval Forces Caribbean & Fleet Air Caribbean.
In 1985-86, following his Caribbean tour, he completed one year of postgraduate school at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman, Okla., where he received a Master of Arts degree in Communication.
His next two assignments were first in Charleston, S.C., as PAO for Commander, Naval Base Charleston, and then in Boston, Mass., as director of Navy Office of Information New England.
LCDR John Tull, augmentee to the U.S. Central Command Headquarters staff during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, shaking hands with Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, USA, USCENTCOM, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Commander, in the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense and Aviation command center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 1991, at the end of Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
His tour of duty in New England included Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm service in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from December 1990 to April 1991, at the U.S. Central Command’s Joint Information Bureau.
At the beginning of Desert Shield, the Saudi Arabian government established a housing complex — Eskan Village — for U.S. military forces about 10-15 miles outside of Riyadh.
“The Saudis had built Eskan Village for the Bedouin people, who were nomads, to improve their quality of life and basically give them a roof over their head,” he said. “The Bedouin people had camels, and herd animals — goats and sheep. At Eskan Village, there were no corrals, sheds for animals, or anything like that to accommodate the animals the Bedouins had, so it never really got off the ground for that purpose, but it worked well for housing our U.S. forces.”
During Desert Shield, Bob Hope took his USO tour to Saudi Arabia to entertain the troops. He took a young entertainer to Eskan Village during Desert Storm to entertain the troops.
“He introduced this entertainer by saying, ‘They tell me this kid is going to be a star. His name is Garth Brooks,’” Tull said. “I can’t recall any of us knowing that name at the time, but a short time later we sure got to know it.”
Following his New England tour, he became PAO for Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va., where he served as Force PAO for three years.
In April 1997, he transferred to his last duty station at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, Calif., where he served until he retired from active duty on Feb. 1, 2000.
As with any military family, Tull and his wife, Linda, moved their children, Tamera and John, 12 times during his time in the Navy.
“I owe my wife, Linda, and my kids, Tamera and John, a deep debt of gratitude for their sacrifices, love and support throughout my time in the Navy,” Tull said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
While it was hard moving a lot, Tull said it was an opportunity for him and his family to travel to places they would not otherwise been able to.
“I got to travel the world,” Tull said.
But when it came to time to retire — after 24 years and eight months of service — Tull said he was ready.
“I was ready for a change,” he said. “I just knew it was time.”
Tull said while he was ready to leave the military, he will always remember the people he served with. It’s the people who he served with is what he misses.
“I’m still able to keep in touch with them — both those in uniform and in civil service,” he said.
Tull said his parents were getting older and their health was deteriorating. As the only child, Tull moved back home to help care for his parents, who both died in 2005.
Clara Garcia | News-Bulletin photos
John Tull Jr. retired from the U.S. Navy in 2000 after nearly 25 years of service. Today, the Bosque Farms native is the senior vice commander of the Daniel D. Fernandez VFW Post 9676 in Los Lunas.
In February 1991, a photo was taken of U.S. Navy Lt. Comm. John Tull Jr. and U.S. Army Capt. Thomas Nickerson by the Associated Press when President George W. Bush declared a cease fire to the Gulf War. The photo of the two men toasting with apple juice was on the front page of newspapers around the world.
While he retired from the U.S. Navy, Tull’s working days weren’t quite over. He worked remotely from Bosque Farms for a casino in Laughlin, Nev., marketing their property for military reunions. After that, he did the same thing for the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for various U.S. Navy ship reunions.
Back in Bosque Farms, Tull and Linda continued to live their lives until he was asked to serve once more — this time joining the Daniel D. Fernandez VFW Post 9676 in Los Lunas. He had never thought about it before, but once he did, he was enamored.
“I was offered a lifetime membership so I joined,” he joked. “This is a good group of veterans. There is a camaraderie here that we can only find among each other.”
Tull praised the post commander, Chet Pino, with being a voice for veterans and having an affinity for community service.
“To have a good group of individuals like this is special for the community,” Tull said. “We’re lucky to be here and we’re lucky to have the support of this community.”
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.