I tend not to discuss the circumstances leading to my enlistment in the NAVY. Mainly because they revolve around a time in my life that was just about as low as it could possibly get. Since I am spinning yarns to refresh my future brain cells, why not start at the beginning – eh?
Let the journey begin…
Back in the Summer of Nine-teen Eighty and Five (for future reference:1985), I was not exactly on the road to success. I had lost my temping job and the only income was from helping my brother in law on his Drake’s Cakes delivery route. That covered the rent with barely enough left over, for food. I toughed it out for a while until…
Late in August or early September, I woke up one morning and walked to the Schenectady US NAVY Recruiting Office. I simply walked in, introduced myself, informed the first recruiter that I encountered that I would be joining the NAVY, and asked him how soon I could leave for boot camp. I’m willing to bet that I was his easiest ‘sell’ on his way to quota that quarter.
So, they are confused as herk by my determination not to leave their office without a date for MEPS. The first thing they do is give me the ASVAB test which I practically ace. After seeing the results of the ASVAB, they convince me to take the Nuclear Field Qualification Test which I also almost ace.
End result, I was sworn into service on 16 September 1985.
What should be addressed at this point is the fact that only one person, other than myself, in the family knew that I was joining the NAVY was my sister Sandra. I had asked that she not tell anyone what I was doing, to this day I cannot tell you why I was so secretive.
Any-who, for me boot camp was a non-academic shore assignment – I just didn’t realize it at the time. I believe we were what you refer to as ‘bug company’. Graduation day, we carried two flags; the company flag and the academic flag (they felt sorry for us). Let’s just say we skated by – my company commanders were tired old steam snipe CHIEFs who didn’t really care what the herk we did as long as we didn’t get noticed by anbody.
The way that we got by was through internal leadership. All recruit companies had a Recruit Chain of Command headed by a Recruit Chief Petty Officer. In our company, they actually ran the show – EMC & MMC only showed up for inspections and ceremonies.
This internal chain of command taught me how to scam my way out of shining my boots, making my bed, properly folding crap I didn’t feel like properly folding, etc. Ya se…I was the MAIL PETTY OFFICER. Yup, it was my job to fetch the mail. Not only did I get all of our mail early, I occasionally got wind of ‘surprise’ evolutions when dropping off mail to EMC (he wasn’t really into the whole boot camp thing).
Anyhow, somewhere around my second or third week in boot camp is when I let the family know about my decision to join. Again, I cannot explain the rationale of my 21 year old brain.
What I can tell you is simply this, the US NAVY saved my life in 1985. Had I not had the foresight to take my sorry butt the recruiting station that fateful day, I have little doubt that my life would have continued its downward spiral and I would not be here today.
The NAVY made me the man that I am today, every sailor that I interacted with – be it in a positive or negative manner – has left an impact on how I conduct myself both professionally and personally. For that I will be eternally grateful.
The really cool thin, my enlistment date of 16 September, will become a significant date in both my personal and professional lives later in life. On 16 September 2000, I joined my Brothers & Sisters in the CHIEF’s Mess and on 16 September 2011 & married the only person crazy enough to agree…