Do you ever wonder what is the life of a navy sailor? Are you thinking about enlisting in the armed services? I think the best service is the navy. In one cartoon during Desert Storm, the cartoonist depicted Sailors drinking coffee and complaining about the cold air-conditioning while the marines were out in the Desert heat and dust. Ahhhh – the “luxurious” navy life!
Where in the world can you take off in a jet plane from full stop to flying over water within 2 seconds? Or land in an airplane in a very small area with only a cable catching a hook to stop your plane in seconds? Ride an amphibious truck on the beach straight to the surf then go several miles off shore to be swallowed in the bowels of a ship? Stand in the middle of scores of Sailors in formation while getting awarded a medal while they read what you did to get that medal? Or spend a whole week in Hong Kong, three days later another 4 days in Singapore, a month later in Dubai, another month in France and Italy. Watch as hundreds of dolphins swim all around your ship going the opposite way? Ride in fast helicopters and humongous cargo planes? Get scared by huge waves that looks like it will swallow your ship in the next minute? Marvel at the latest technology which you are not allowed to discuss with civilian friends? How many friends do you have that would literally die to protect you?
The usual disclosure: This post is not designed to make you join the U.S. Navy. If you do, any hardship(and there will be lots of them) you encounter is solely because of your decision and your decision alone. You won’t get paid a lot, but you will work a lot. Out at sea, most likely 12 hours a day with no overtime pay.
You’ll have a few choice wardrobe picked out for you to wear at certain occasion or season. You cannot accessorize . You should be able to do a few pull ups, dozens of sit ups and push ups and immediately run 1.5 miles in 12.5 minutes or less.
What I represent here is the life I experienced in the 80s and 90s. It may not be like yours. Yours may be easier but you may perceive it being hard because your childhood life is a lot easier than mine.
In exchange for your suffering, you will have a uniquely rich life experience. How unique? If you keep coming back to this website and read more of my “Sea Stories” series in the future.
Did you get intimidated by my little disclosure above? That’s really very friendly compared to the Company Commander screaming at you in boot camp.
This is the introductory beginning to a new series of posts called the “Sea Stories” which will get its own category. It’s the “fun” part of this blog, to take away the pain of saving and investing a lot, and managing your resources well (which in itself are more fun in my opinion).
So, without any further delay, here are the lessons:
SAFETY FIRST – yes, in almost every ship or aircraft squadron or shore based duty station – the emphasis is on safety. While I was “comfortably” working in a cigarette-smoke-filled admin office – a lot of my shipmates had some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Like being the person directing the airplanes on top of a very busy aircraft carrier in the middle of the night. The emphasis on safety prevented mishaps. We hardly had any serious accidents and zero deaths in all the commands I was in. Pretty safe huh? Or very blessed!
ACCOUNTABILITY – Do you know why a navy ship Captain is the last one to leave the ship if the ship starts sinking? It’s because of responsibility and accountability, which goes hand in hand. Each Sailors are not only accountable for his or her actions, but also for the tasks delegated to subordinates. Everyone knows that they have to do their job or else they could be dead or they could cause injury or death to their shipmates.
PUNCTUALITY – Did you ever get ordered (not requested) to show up 30 minutes early only to wait another 3 hours before any action starts? It’s the standard evolution in the navy. Due to this, I was late approximately 5 times in 20 years of service. The punishment for being late is severe sometimes. Being on time is a great habit to have.
TRAINING in almost ALL things – we get training in almost everything related to a Sailor’s life. In addition, there are several courses that must be completed to get promoted. We fought real fires and inhaled black smoke. We breathed tear gas and congratulated each other with tears running down our cheeks. There’s so much training because there’s loads of details that need to be followed.
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW – just like in life, Navy life can be a drag or it can be very exciting. The best Sailors go in there and give 100% effort without any mental reservation – and they get rewarded by a happy and exciting navy life. The guys that don’t normally get kicked out unceremoniously. Give your best – Expect to get the best!
To borrow a slogan from a navy recruiting ad “It’s not just a job. It’s an adventure”!
Did I mention that I didn’t write this to recruit you?