Thursday, July 14, 2022

Please Petty Officer Third Class, Don’t Hurt ‘Em

By William Clarkson
HRNM Educator
Album cover for MC Hammer’s 1990 album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (Image from
In the olden days of the year 1990, amidst the breakup of the Soviet Union, reunification of East and West Germany, release of Nelson Mandela from prison in South Africa, and the leadup to the First Gulf War, hip-hop was enjoying what many considered to be its golden era. Numerous artists from this time have become household names. People and groups such as Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Run D-M-C, and Snoop Dogg enjoyed growing success and international acclaim. Among these titans of the industry, one Stanley Kirk Burrell (aka MC Hammer) was reaching the height of his music career. With the release of Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em in 1990, which contained the hit “U Can’t Touch This,” MC Hammer joined the ranks of the top hip-hop artists. Both the album and single reached top spots on U.S. and international charts, catapulting Hammer to a level of unparalleled success. However, before his stellar rise to fame and fortune, MC Hammer had other aspirations and careers, including service in the United Stated Navy.
Young Stanley Burrell (MC Hammer) with “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron. (
Stanley Kirk Burrell was born on March 30, 1962, in Oakland, California, and is the youngest of seven siblings. From his youth, Stanley Burrell pursued his dual interests of music and baseball. He spent much of his time watching the Oakland Athletics baseball team and was even hired as a batboy by the Athletics’ owner, Charles O. Finley. Finley was impressed by the young Burrell and assigned him additional duties around the team’s clubhouse. It is there that Burrell acquired the moniker “Hammer.” Players and staff began calling him “Hammer” due to his resemblance to the legendary baseball player, “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron. After graduating high school in 1980, Burrell attended community college briefly and participated in try-outs for the San Francisco Giants baseball team. When he was not selected to join the team as a player, Burrell found himself at a crossroads. At this critical moment, Stanley Burrell enlisted in the United States Navy.
A P3c Orion flies past Mount Fuji, Japan. VP-47 operated these types of planes while MC Hammer (AK3 Burrell) was a member of the squadron. (
In the Navy, Burrell’s rating was AK, or Aviation Storekeeper.[i] He served as a member of P3 Orion Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Squadron VP-47, known as “The Golden Swordsman.” As an Aviation Storekeeper, AK3 Burrell oversaw maintaining parts and equipment stocks, ordering, and dispensing all that was needed for the successful operation of the squadron. As an ASW squadron, VP-47 conducted antisubmarine and maritime surveillance duties. These duties brought AK3 Burrell, along with the squadron, to Naval Air Station Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, where the squadron was permanently stationed from 1965-1993. AK3 Burrell deployed with V-47 to Japan in support of Task Group 72 and Patrol and Reconnaissance Force in 7th Fleet, where the squadron received praise from commanders of both organizations. After completing his three-year enlistment, and returning to NAS Moffett Field, AK3 Burrell was honorably discharged in 1984.
MC Hammer today continues his music career, as well as invests in A.I. and tech companies. (Image from
After his Navy service, Burrell, now going by the moniker “MC Hammer,” renewed his pursuit of a career in music, and started his own record label called Bust It Records. He eventually started recording for Capitol Records, where his meteoric rise truly began, and he became a household name. Despite some controversy and financial problems during the early 1990s, Hammer has continued his music career with numerous releases from his own Bust It Records and other labels. While many today remember or grew up with MC Hammer’s music, his time in the US Navy is not so well known. Like many other celebrities, Hammer made a choice at a pivotal point in his life to enter military service. While many will only know MC Hammer from his career in entertainment, the people with whom he served in the Navy will probably always remember him as AK3 Stanley Burrell.

[i] The AK rating has since been merged, along with the SK (Storekeeper) and the PC (Postal Clerk) ratings, into the LS (Logistics Specialist) rating.

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