Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In the Navy

I was in the Navy for six years and I think I have a few stories. I'll start with Boot Camp. I was 26 years old in 1984 when I joined the Navy. I hadn't finished my BA degree and I was so tired of quitting boring jobs.

I decided I needed a job I couldn't quit. Why the Navy, of course. I knew it wouldn't be so easy to quit the Navy. So I joined.

I got to Boot Camp and they discovered that I had been in ROTC so I quickly became the Recruit Chief Petty Officer (RCPO). So much for keeping a low profile and getting it over with. Now I was in charge of 79 girls.

I'll save all the details of being "broken" so we could be trained up the way they wanted us to be for another post. I want to tell the story of the day I almost lost my job as RCPO.

One night about the third or fourth week I was the last one at the sinks brushing my teeth and the watchstander came to me from the laundry area near the restrooms. She said, "Come and see this."

I followed her to the laundry area and she pointed at a window in the door. I looked through the window and to my huge surprise there were three guys in there with three or four of my girls. They were sitting on the washers and dryers just chatting like nothing was wrong.

The guys were actually crouched down, but I could see them. As you can guess, they were not supposed to be in the female barracks. They had snuck out in their dark watch caps and crept through the night to our barracks. My girls willingly opened the door. Big no, no there.

I almost had a heart attack. This would be my call. I quickly decided that no one could know about this. I yelled at them to get out and yelled at the girls to get to bed.

I told the watchstander not to record anything in the watchbook. We were going to stick together and no one was going to get in trouble so we could all finish Boot Camp together.

I was so wrong. The watchstander must record everything out of the ordinary that occurs. She, being a good sailorette, recorded it, unbeknownst to me. She argued that we needed to tell someone in charge (we stayed alone in the barracks at night, but there was a duty officer on the quarterdeck downstairs all night), but I would not agree to it.

I wanted us to stay together and I would stick up for my girls no matter what. After all we had been lectured about that earlier that week. We were a team. A Company.
K074! That was us and we were graduating together no matter what.

Next morning at breakfast the word got out. Several girls knew and were afraid we would get caught. They feared that we would be punished and be "set back". Set back is being moved backward to another company and doing the same week over that you just finished and graduating with the new company.

I agreed to tell the Company Commanders after breakfast. They hadn't read the watchbook yet and hadn't heard a thing about it. I was so scared, but I told them.

This began the longest day of Boot Camp for me. They called all involved parties into the office (except the guys of course). They slammed the door so hard the ceiling tiles raised up several inches and clumps of dust were falling down on us as we stood at attention, sweating bee bees.

I had no idea we'd get in so much trouble. We all had to go before the man (I have forgotten his's been a long time). We stood at attention for long periods of time on the "Division Sidewalk" and then in the hall. They sent me off to sweep a stairwell for awhile and then we all met again in a hall for the final judgement.

The girls who let the guys in, all got set back a week. Myself and the good sailorette who stood watch that night got a "mark" on our record (red writing describing what happened and how we were punished). We got a slap on the hand and went back with our company that day.

Consequences for me were minimal, but sad. I couldn't be given the "Honor Grad" award that I had earned (I had no idea) and back at the barracks in front of everyone in my company, I had to stick my head into a 50 gallon, metal garbage can and scream at the top of my lungs something about how dumb I had been several times.

Footnote: I met the RCPO of the company the guys were from the day before we graduated at a meeting. I asked if anyone got in trouble for what they did and he said "no". I was so mad. Guys just know how to keep a secret better than girls.

Ever heard the saying "Loose lips sink ships"? Well now ya know what that means.

It's pretty funny now, but it sure wasn't then. I did very well in Boot Camp and finished on time. My parents were able to fly out to Orlando for my graduation.
Those were good times and hard times, but I knew I could do anything for eight weeks.


  1. Ahhhhh, memories! =0)

    That would have made such a great Memory Lane post!!!! You should've linked back to me yesterday. ha ha ha

    Enjoyed reminiscing (sp?) with you!

  2. Doesn't seem fair you could be blamed for something you didn't know about, but i guess that's how they do it.

    Hey, copy this URL link and put it up in your upper left corner, then press enter and go visit this blog:

    Then click on the three column thing. Apparently you can somehow install three columns on your blog. It's free. I don't know how to do it though, so assuming there are instructions.

    I mean, providing you want three columns. She also tells you how to do other stuff today.

    Man, it is hot today!!!!!

  3. Navey, cool My dad was a Chief Petty Officer :) Jacobs wanting to follow in his foot steps :)