Ah the wiles of navy life.
I was asked recently by one of my shipmates (a term of endearment for fellow ODSers) if I was considering career. It was very much a loaded answer especially with our current training temp here in what is unofficially referred to as training country. We are all tired, there are some evolutions that none of us see the real point in, and by and large there is a constant comparison between ODS and the Fleet, by priors (those who were once in the ranks of the enlisted). Everyone is tired of the pace and no one quite feels comfortable with the constant level of alertness we all have to maintain for our LCPO (the Senior Chief responsible to get us fleet worthy).
So with that disclaimer aside, or in spite of that disclaimer, I respond with a resounding yes. This life suits me, at least insomuch as I can piece together the part that will carry over into the fleet. The stressors (those menial tasks designed to draw attention to certain styles of doing things) will not carry over to the fleet. I will be allowed to sleep past 0400, I will eventually eat what I want, when I want. I will not have to stay in uniform until 8pm. Not everything is done on 24hour time, etc. But the parts that stick: the air of professionalism, the attention to detail, the appearance of crispness in the man and in the uniform, the swell of pride in the National Ensign (the flag – that military word of the day is free btw) – those speak to my soul. All of these coupled with the individual call to serve the men and women who have dedicated even a few short years of their lives to protecting the rights of others makes my spirit answer that question with a resounding yes.
So aside from reaffirming in my own mind the call to serve what else has gone on this week?
Sunday was a liberty day which was basically a chance to sleep in again to 0550, as well as the opportunity to take an afternoon nap. (Have I mentioned I have a new love affair with sleep?) When we arrived the prior class kept warning us to sleep all day that first Sunday as it would be that last real sleep we would get. Oh, how naive we were. So if you’re headed here and you would heed any words I say, heed this – SLEEP, by all that is dear and good – sleep!
Monday was business as usual, briefs and PT, incidentally I’ve actually lost no weight but the gut that I brought with me got lost somewhere along the way. So the extra chub I had on me is being replaced by something I haven’t seen in years. I’m not quite sure whether I need to see a doctor about it or not, because it’s clearly not natural for a chip-munching American not to have a doughnut circling his midsection.
Tuesday was a fun-filled day of overseas screenings. For those of you who are in operational billets or headed overseas, get ready for some fun. It’s really not bad – just tedious. Unless of course you’re me and then they do things to you (fun, diabolical things) – like schedule you for oral surgery to remove wisdom teeth that have been perfectly content to remain harmlessly meek in the recesses of your mouth. Apparently wisdom teeth are evil, and in a deployed setting reek havoc on your ability to perform your job. (Interesting fact: Dental is the number one reason that soldiers are medivaced out of theater during deployments).
At some point during week 3, ID cards are issued, in theory – I’m still waiting on mine because some wild howling monkey crashed the system (at least that’s my theory). I’m hoping to get it done in the next few days but who knows if that will happen, (remember that surgery I talked about – it’s tomorrow and there is no guarantee I’ll be anywhere near sane until Saturday – I think they dope you up pretty good).
So Wednesday (today!): Summer whites inspection was today. I missed out for dental work and had an interview necessary for my gaining command, which by the way you will have happen. As training progresses, you will peel off from your company from time to time to take care of individual items of need with your record, assignment or whatever else the Navy has decided you need. I’ve missed some great briefing because of it, but fortunately every brief is available in PowerPoint online. I think the Navy invented PowerPoint or is a stakeholder in Microsoft because, the way they use it, clearly they have some investment in the sell of the program.
In the AM I’m having my wisdom teeth pulled (3 of the evil scoundrels, to be precise) so who knows when I’ll be lucid enough to post again. Until then, let me close with a brief list of things I wish I had known/brought up to this point.
1. A camera, you can’t really use your phone for picture taking as its well…your phone, and you aren’t allowed to use it.
2. Memorize everything you are told to on the website prior to showing up, you will be well ahead of the curve. (I stare blankly ahead at chow while my shipmates are trying to cram more knowledge into already overwhelmed, exhausted minds)
3. Envelopes, there are plenty left over, HOWEVER bring STAMPS, you will want to write, even if it’s just a tool used to stay awake during briefs. Try it, it works.
4. Buy 3 pairs of PT gear (not just the mandatory 2), you’ll thank me later.
5. When at the uniform shop there is a hanging organizer for all your ribbons/pins etc…. BUY IT.
6. Don’t over pack civilian clothing. You will secure them and your luggage in a room at the beginning of your time here and, as of yet, we have yet to get it back.
7. Bring or buy on Sunday a small container of dish soap. Your water bottle will be with you 24/7 and can get nasty if you don’t wash it.
8. Come in shape. Please, for your own benefit, prepare your body to pass the PFT with a GOOD/LOW standard before you arrive.
Overall, realize this is a training command and from the moment you get here to the moment you leave your playing a game you don’t know the rules too. What I mean is this: Your LCPO, your class officer and everyone involved is working off a very exact script. They are not here to make you hate them, or to torture you, they are here to drill into your core and bring out the best in you. They will challenge you in just about every way: mentally, physically and spiritually. They will push you to your limits and beyond. And when you look behind you and see your limits long since exceeded, then you will begin to see the forest instead of staring at the trees. There is a big picture here, don’t get so caught up in your pain that you can’t see the purpose.
After all this is Training Country
Soar on Wings as Eagles