I do not regret my time in the Navy. That was in no way meant to be damning by faint praise, I am just glad my time in the Navy is over.
I think Boot Camp is a great idea for boys and girls of that particular age.
Boot Camp puts the finishing touches on a mold long in the making. Discipline, a sense of self-worth and accomplishment. The introduction of people who don’t look like you and the ability to take orders. All contributing to a well rounded citizen.
That said, an entire career in the military was just not for me. I have a meaningful series of take-aways from my time in the Navy that I can share, both good and bad.
First Off, swearing an Oath to Defend the Constitution is a powerful moment. I definitely felt that tightening in the chest because I knew I was doing something important.
That whole part about the ‘all enemies foreign and domestic‘ was troublesome being as how I probably should have been categorized as one of those ‘domestic’ problems, but hey, an Oath is an Oath. To a pagan, Oath-breaking is a serious business.
The U.S.Navy has a proud and honorable history.
To be part of a tradition is also one of those ‘bigger than you’ moments. Putting on the sailor uniform gives you that feeling of being part of something larger than yourself. My grandfather was in the Navy and so was an uncle and at least 2 cousins at this point.
If you have never been far out to sea, it is something to behold. The sheer vastness of all that blue as far as the eye can see. You really feel small in the greater scheme of things compared to the ocean. This is my Ship CG-60 USS Normandy.
And don’t get me started about a storm at Sea. I was once in 40 foot swells (trough to crest) in the Gulf of Mexico. We would play a game down in the forecastle where you would ‘time your jump’ off a pile of life jackets and touch the high ceiling at the crest of a wave.
I also distinctly remember being on watch and yelling into a wind so strong you could not really hear your own scream. Surreal stuff.
Dolphins playing with the ship, schools of flying fish, and Plankton that glows in your wake are all memories I will keep with me.
Going through the Panama Canal was very interesting. The massive scope of the engineering is impressive. There are at least 3 sets of Locks to go through, luckily the US Navy has priority. Or at least did, we don’t own the Canal anymore.
Ports of Call are always a favorite. Mexico, Guatemala, (although they decided to start a civil war the night before that curtailed any shore leave), Panama City, (crazy Red Light District) and San Juan Puerto Rico before the Hurricane, to name a few. Here is the SWEET certificate you get for going through the Panama Canal.
I met some interesting people, got my ‘Sea Legs’, learned enough about knots to last a lifetime. I steered a $1 billion dollar ship, and made friends with the sea.