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Friday, July 22, 2011

Join the Navy, See the World!

There are things we want in life and make happen, but they don't always happen as we'd planned or imagined. My dad had gone to Ohio University in Athens, OH on a wrestling scholarship. I, too, wanted to go to OU, but since he'd dropped out and it had a reputation as a huge party school, it was going to be a tough sell. So, I did my homework and sell I did. At the time (1990), OU was one of the top 10 colleges for Communications in the U.S. That was the degree I wanted and I wanted to go to OU to get my degree. I graduated early and during the time between my acceptance to OU and the College of Communications and pre-college, I had become further enamored with marine life and sharks specifically and wanted to change my major to Marine Biology which at OU was actually a Zoology degree. The girl tried to talk me out of changing my major because it was so hard to get into the College of Communication and if I left, I would have to reapply and hope for the best in my junior year. Unfortunately, I barely made it through my freshman year.

As someone who loved the ocean, I had already planned to go ROTC and take my Marine Biology/Zoology degree into the Navy. I didn't have a lot of people around me who were military so I don't know why that was what I wanted. I suppose it was mostly because I wanted to see the world and as the recruiting slogan says, "Join the Navy, See the World!" I had a very romanticized version of how that would all work out: me, standing on the deck, wind in my hair, looking over the side watching the wake of the ship as the dolphins and other sea life swam through it. Yeah, not so much! Those moments of solitude aren't on the deck per se, but in holds on the bow or stern of the ship after 12 hours of work. I didn't spend much time at sea either as I was an airdale (crewchief/aircrew on helicopters) and never did a Western Pacific Cruise (West Pac); I did a few short Pac's where we were off the San Diego coast, though.


I joined the Navy after college didn't work out for me in 1991. I left for boot camp in Orlando, FL January 21, 1992. Everyone thought that with my mouth, I was sure to get kicked out or end up in the Brig. Luckily, the Navy was just what I needed to find my way in this life. The structure and the family-like structure were exactly what I needed. As someone who has never known structure other than the stuff I've created in my life, this was the missing component I didn't know I needed. So, thank you, God, for knowing what I needed even better than I knew myself! I knew going into the Navy that I was going to be aircrew, but I had no idea what that meant. In fact, my first time on an aircraft was on the plane in Cleveland that flew me to Orlando!

I spent almost four and a half years in the Navy. In that time, I went from boot camp in Orlando to Aircrew Candidate School and Rescue Swimmer School in Pensacola, FL (I LOVE the Florida Gulf Coast!), then to Millington, TN (oustide Memphis) for Naval Aviation Technical Training School for my Aviation Electrician's Mate designation, and then on to Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, CA for my helicopter-specific (FRAC-Fleet Replacement Aircrew) training school (HC-3) and permanent duty (HC-11) for sea duty and then when I was pregnant with my son, I moved to shore duty back at HC-3 (my husband was on sea duty so I got to go to shore duty). I joined the Navy to see the world and I never left the good ol' U.S. of A. other than to go to Mexico where I did visit Tijuana, Rosarito (and the coolest little hotel, Calafia), Ensenada and La Bufadora in Baja California. My ex did get to do two cruises in which he hit the likes of Perth, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, and Jubail in Saudi Arabia, and Hawaii. He did bring me scented oils from the Middle East, a silk negligee from Hong Kong and a leather bag from Singapore, and underwater pictures from a snorkling trip in Hawaii.

Nowadays, I have a list inside one of my journals that lists all the places domestic and international that I have ever seen and wanted to go. I met a guy at a networking event on Wednesday. Over beer that night, he was telling me about some of his wonderful adventures. Then, another friend who lives in Canada was blogging about her soon-to-be-adventures that will culminate with her living in London for a period of time. I have friends (and family, too) who live overseas whether they are in the military or were born there and travel all over the world. It made me wonder why we don't do that here in America? Are we really that busy? Are we afraid of the world? Is that part of our "someday"? I joke all the time that I joined the Navy to see the world, but never left North America, but it's not a joke. I want to see the world. I want those new experiences. I want to meet new people and explore new opportunities. I love to learn. So, that is what I am going to do. MAs Auntie Mame says, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death so live, live, LIVE!" 

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