A MUST READ for all New Navy Parents
Thanks to a number of our members for these very appropriate words. If you have a sailor at Great Lakes or one soon to be there, you have probably wondered what it is all about and what they are learning and experiencing....this will give you an idea!!
From the outside, it seems silly when you think about it. Spending an hour to teach a group of young adults just how to fold a towel, making each fold precise and placing the folded towel exactly in it's place in a locker. It is easy to wonder about the logic and purpose behind such training. Those of us who have gone through it, however, understand all too well.
There is not a day that goes by where my boot camp training and experience does not come forward in some form or another. Maybe it is the confidence with which I go about a task. Maybe it is my willingness to pitch in and do whatever needs doing, even if others would consider the work below them. It shows in the attention to detail that I place on my daily tasks. It shows in my willingness and ability to work with a team on a project, leading or following as needed. Boot camp taught and solidified these traits and others in me
Many people hate boot camp while in...and just about every person in boot camp cannot wait to get out. In the beginning that is because we are miserable and homesick...towards the end, however, it is the fleet that is calling us. In those last weeks of boot camp things begin to become apparent to us regarding boot camp. As we march, calling our cadences and showing off a little, we see it in the eyes of the new recruits just beginning. It seems like it was years ago, but it was only 5 or 6 weeks earlier when we were those scared looking recruits. We begin to realize that this is not just some club that anyone can join. We think about what it took to join in the first place...how everything had to be just so...and then we think about those who still did not make it as the early weeks of boot camp became too much for some to handle. We are not sad for them now. At first we were...we were crushed when a new friend got sent back or sent home. But now, anyone sent back or sent home early should have been. Cold as it is, we see that our jobs will have other people's lives in the balance and we do not want to graduate with any but the best. If they cannot get through the early weeks of boot camp, they cannot be part of us. We get it, and appreciate it.
We arrived confused and scared. We spent parts of our first few weeks seriously wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into. We PTd in our civvies and we got shots and we were verbally abused beyond what we thought we would ever be able to take. After a short time the confusion melts away and it turns to resolve. We may not understand quite yet just what boot camp means, but we do know we want to get through it. We see those senior companies marching with pride and honor...because they get it now...and we want to be like them, if only to get our company commanders off of our backs.
Amazing things begin to happen. In our company, where just a week or so before there were fights and dissention...where it looked like it would be impossible for the motley bunch we were there with to actually complete the course...now there is unity and team work emerging. Now, when someone does not get something, they are not ridiculed, but they are helped. Once folding a towel and placing it in our lockers seemed silly and petty...now it is of utmost importance and we approach it the way any adult would approach a very important and serious work related task. We are earning flags and drawing the praise of our company commanders more and more. They are not babysitters anymore, but leaders of a company of future sailors that can already taste the sea spray and feel the pride of the uniform. When we march, we carry ourselves with pride and honor, because we are starting to understand just what it is we have accomplished.
When we leave boot camp, we will be confident and self assured. The US Navy, truly one of the most elite organizations in the entire world, has seen fit to count us among it's own. It is no longer our company commanders' navy...it is our navy, and we take that serious. Our ship mates in boot camp have gone from being total strangers to being something like brothers and sisters. We have all learned to put our personal and regional views aside and work instead towards the end goals of our company as a unit. In doing so we gain a trust and respect for our ship mates that was most certainly not there when this began. Even the most cocky and egotistical recruits have been knocked down, only to be built back up with proper confidence and attitude. Now instead of being every person for themselves, we are looking out for and pulling our ship mates along, so that none of us at this point get left behind. Anyone who can get this far must keep going or it reflect badly on all of us. Two weeks earlier, someone being sent back was just and proper...now none will fall...we will see to it.
We will soon leave...and most likely we will not see each other again. We have not developed friendships in the traditional sense. We do not know too many intimate details about these people we have shared our lives with. But we have all come together with a common sense of purpose, and now, as it is about to end, we are both excited and sad. Sad to leave boot camp? Yes. Believe it or not, it can be quite sad to walk away from that company that has meant so much. For many it is the only place they have found in their lives where they truly belong. For others, it is the most important thing they have ever done. Still for others, it has taught them the value of trusting others and working together. All of this tends to make it rather difficult to leave a place that just a few weeks earlier we would have gladly bolted from if given the chance.
One last hurrah...graduation. It is the time when we as a company will perform for the very last time. We will put on our best uniforms...the uniforms of our nations' proud and strong Navy and we will show what we have learned to family and friends, and most importantly to ourselves. We will demonstrate that 80 green, scared and confused kids can come together and be made into a cohesive military unit that is capable of serving this nation with dedication and pride. We know that already we are broken, for after graduation...immediately after...there are those who will travel to their schools and we will most likely never see them again...over the next few days we will all disperse to far flung places. After graduation we will never be the same. This is truly it for our short lived company. Short lived but not ever forgotten. We know, even in our youth and excitement that we will always look back fondly on our time in boot camp, our ship mates and our company commanders. Bigger and better things await us in the fleet. We will go to our schools and then to the fleet where we will do a wide variety of jobs. Many will enjoy their time in the Navy and it will be all that was expected. Some will not have good experiences and may find themselves unhappy in their jobs and commands...getting out the first chance they can get. But...right here, right now...as we march with pride in our company...we are all on the same page. We are tough and determined. We are sailors.
Most former military people cherish their time in boot camp. We love what it did for us and how we grew because of it. Parents who have not been in the military will have concerns for their children going into boot camp, but those parents who chose this path themselves years earlier, know that there is nothing better for a young, dumb teenager than to get a dose of boot camp to make them grow up.
Your children are on a great adventure. It can take them far beyond boot camp in Great Lakes. They can be serving on board majestic and powerful ships at sea, showing the United States firepower and commitment to helping all over the world. They can be involved in combat missions where our military is doing what it can to make the world safe (politics aside). They can be stationed on bases all over the world, or perhaps training commands where they will help develop future sailors. They may even come back and bring new recruits through boot camp. But...whatever they go on to do...boot camp will be there as the opening to this chapter in their lives. The chapter is adulthood and boot camp is the adventure that takes them there.
Excerpted, below, are some ideas I included in a letter to our son before he left for USN basic. Perhaps some other Navy Dad, or Navy Mom, will find some of this useful for your son or daughter.
There are three answers to any possible question in basic training and those three answers are: 1. Yes sir. 2. No sir. 3. No excuse, sir. If they want you to answer in some other way, they’ll tell you how to answer.
Have a sense of humor, but try not to show your sense of humor—in other words, laugh in your head, not out loud.
Keep your eyes and ears open, keep your mouth shut, except when asked a direct question, then refer to the three answers above. Hone your observational skills—listen, watch carefully, pay attention to your surroundings, be alert.
Do EXACTLY what you are told to do; lose the urge to interpret what orders you are given—chances are training orders will be quite explicit so do exactly what you are told to do. You will have to LISTEN CAREFULLY. In training, follow orders exactly as they are given because it is extremely unlikely that you will be told to do something that is illegal, immoral, or wrong—follow orders while in training. Later, the Navy will have many discussions with you about what constitutes a lawful, or legal, order and at those times you can ruminate on the nuances and complexities of orders.
Do not lie about ANYTHING; if you did something wrong, own up to it, take the punishment, and learn from the mistake—if you try to cover up for yourself or lie about what happened, you will get hammered by your training instructors. Furthermore, you will get pegged as an untrustworthy person and in the war-fighting business, trust is paramount. Think about it: Do you want to be in a combat situation with someone YOU don’t trust? Always tell the truth. Much of the training is designed to reveal your character (and to weed out s**tbirds)—demonstrate the fundamental goodness of your character.
Give all that you can give in everything that you do; even if you fail while trying your damndest, you will gain respect and you will be given another opportunity to succeed. If you do not give all that you are able to give and still manage to succeed, you will still get hammered by your instructors.
If you get seriously hurt, get medical help. Will you get “recycled” to another training rotation? Maybe, but at least you’ll be healthy enough to succeed in that rotation. Trying to complete training while seriously hurt, without medical help, is a no-win situation.
Lead when it is appropriate to do so; follow when it is appropriate to do so. Learn when to lead and when to follow.
Do not associate with the s**tbirds, the slackers, the complainers, the whiners, or those who don’t put out; stay away from them. . . .This is serious stuff—take it seriously.
Conduct yourself at all times as if you are being evaluated and judged, especially when you are NOT being evaluated and judged.
Treat every “test” as an opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned and to improve those things that need improvement.
Do not leave a comrade behind.
Work to ensure the success of the mission and the success of the team.
Don’t spread rumors and don’t believe rumors—rumors are almost always B.S.
Finally, use your brain before you go to basic—do some reading on warfare (naval, ground campaigns, insurgency/special operations, etc.). If this is to be your chosen profession for a while, or for a career, study, read, know some history, learn from other people’s mistakes and successes. Think about this, too: Can you list three reasons why you want to serve in this capacity? Can you list five reasons why you want to serve in this capacity? It’s not likely that you’ll be asked about this, but you had better know the why and the wherefore for your decisions and choices.
Hooyah to all Navy Dads.
And from Tom on our FaceBook page:
Someone on another FB Navy related page fired a shot across the bow of a person that questioned "what type of kid" would join the military today. This got me thinking. As a former Naval person and military member and as a Navy and Army dad, this was my response:
Someone asked what type of kid joins the military today?
I will tell you about the type of kid that joins the military. They make up about 1% of our population. They are the type of man or woman that is willing to work in a dangerous, often too hot or too cold, too wet, too dry area. They work often 24 to 48 hours straight without sleep. They will work on rolling seas, boiling deserts, frozen tundras and lands far from home. They will go without food to make sure their battle buddies and shipmates have something to eat. They will argue and squabble and fuss with each other, but let someone insult their brother or sister sailor, airmen, marine or soldier and suddenly you are fighting them all. They know what it is like to work a twelve hour shift and stand a four hour watch. They often do thankless jobs in countries you never heard of for people they can't understand. They stand ready, 24/7 to step in front of a train, plane or speeding bullet for their shipmate or battle buddy and to defend this nation. They are young, some with college all with more than one story about what they have learned and where they have been. They can probably whip the majority of the other 99% of Americans that wouldn't bother to join their ranks, but they wouldn't because they respect themselves and their uniform too much to do so. Now granted, maybe that's not the type of young man or woman that chooses to join the military, but that is who they become. They are the finest people this country has to offer and we love'em all.
If you are reading this and you have a son or daughter sailor, airman, marine or soldier, I salute you and yes, you may share this post.