Week 4 (Jan 22-Jan 28)
Finally, a sponsor with the 3rd Marine Division! I made contact with my command, and found out some details about my ultimate duty station! From the sounds of it, there are no plans to deploy (YET)! I will most likely be participating various short term exercises in several Asian countries (We’ll see)! I haven’t been assigned to a specific battalion, but I should know where I will be assigned to in the next few weeks. I haven’t had much contact with my sponsor, yet, but I did receive a very encouraging e-mail from one of the chaplains in Okinawa whose lifestyle and beliefs are very similar to ours! I can’t wait to meet him and the other chaplains already serving “The Fighting 3rd!”
Week 4 was pretty uneventful. We started the Division Officer Leadership Course (DOLC) this week, and the class was informative at times, and not so informative at others, but overall it was good. It was nice to sit under new instructors who allowed us to relax a little. They allowed us free reign on the coffee pots, (not that I drank any in case you were wondering) and were not so rigid and formal as the other instructors we’ve had up to this point. One of them gave the class a great method for keeping shirt stays attached, and it actually works! I was amazed and will continue to use it as long as I wear them, which won’t be much longer. I’m buying a shirt lock as soon as I can! The highlight of the class was our discussion on the Navy’s “diversity” policy, and watching the “Curahee” episode of Band of Brothers! After we watched the episode, discussed Captain Sobel’s leadership style and how we needed to adjust our leadership style depending on our situation. We pretty much spent all day, every day in DOLC. Friday we got our briefing on the NWU’s and we will finally get to start wearing them in week 5. I believe we will have an inspection sometime tomorrow. I can’t wait as the NWU’s will be easier and more comfortable to wear than the Khaki’s. Plus my wife already told me she thinks I’ll look hot wearing them! It’s like killing two birds with one stone! She said she’s going to jump into my arms when she sees me, and I can only hope I’m wearing NWU’s when it happens!
The only other thing we did this week was take our final PRT! It is good to have that out of the way. I really sapped for energy, and didn’t perform like I wanted to in curl-ups and push-ups. I did fewer than the time before, but still passed. I did cut my 1.5 mile run down to 10:37, so I was proud of that! I also noticed that I have lost about 5 pounds while here, and that I can start to see the beginnings of 6-pack abs. I haven’t seen anything like that since high school!
There have been a few noteworthy events outside of class! One of which was my battle with the seagulls. When standing watch as the rover, I noticed trash everywhere behind one of our buildings. The seagulls had drug a bag out of the overflowing dumpster, and they (with the help of the wind) had scattered it everywhere. When I arrived on the scene, they were still picking at one of the bags, so I decided to run them off. They held their ground until I was within a yard or so and then they split! I never realized how large a seagull really is. I thought they would be about the size of a pigeon, but they are much larger. I ran them off, and then cleaned up the trash afterward. I felt silly picking up trash in my Khaki uniform, but I bit the bullet and did it anyway! A small sacrifice compared to what others have done!
Besides my seagull battle, I had the privilege of educating one of my friends in Midwest slang! He had never heard the term “ganked” before, so I filled him in on the details! He made fun of me by telling me somebody had “Ganked his corn!,” and I had a good laugh! He’s a great guy who always brings a smile to my face with some sort of joke or harmless ribbing.
As a class, we were authorized to go on liberty anywhere within 100 miles. A majority of the class headed to Boston for at least a day. I had plans to go, but decided to cancel them at the last minute. I was ready to crash on Friday afternoon, and thought it would be best if I stayed in Newport for the weekend. I had a great time here on my OFP. I pretty much did whatever I wanted, except when I had watch. If I wanted to go somewhere with somebody, I did. If I didn’t want to go, I didn’t. It was great! I’m hoping to make the trip to Boston this weekend with my beautiful wife in tow!
On Saturday, I had a couple experiences I may never have again. My roommate and I decided to see the new Mission Impossible movie that was supposed to be playing at 10:30 am in Warwick. The time seemed odd to me, but I thought maybe that’s how it’s done in New England. Needless to say, we showed up to a theater with an empty parking lot and a movie that didn’t start until 4pm. So we went to McDonald’s where I had breakfast, and a McFlurry (sweets have been officially authorized!). Then we headed home when my roommate decided he wanted to stop by the Mercedes dealership. . . because he wanted to purchase a new Mercedes. He didn’t buy one, but probably will soon! Needless to say, it was my first trip to a Mercedes dealership, and probably my last with somebody who actually has the money to buy one. After the stop at the Mercedes dealership, he decided he wanted to stop by the Harley-Davidson dealership to buy a custom part for his Harley! The Harley dealership was a pretty cool place to be. There were about fifteen bikes on the show room floor, and I enjoyed looking them over. I was going to purchase a t-shirt as a souvenir, but the cheapest one I saw was $25. I took a business card, and a free sales brochure instead. While there, I met a Vietnam Vet who showed me the scar left over from when a NAVY CORPSMAN saved his live when his Huey crashed in Vietnam. It was great visiting with him, learning about the “Jesus Nut,” and thanking him for his service to our great country! Although we didn’t get to see the movie, it was still a great morning!
I also had colors detail on Saturday, and once again it was a great privilege to raise and retire our national ensign. We were authorized to use the big flag on the 130+ foot flag pole. I carried the flag to the flag pole, and held it as it unfurled and began its ascent. Our CDO (Command Duty Officer) told us that people can see the flag from all over Newport, and that was humbling. Particularly, I thought about the symbolism of the raising of an American flag. Perhaps seeing the flag going up reminds the people of Newport of the moon landing, their time on Iwo Jima, or merely of their own service to our country. What a privilege it is to raise and retire a flag that means so much to so many people!
On a more somber note, I am starting to miss home and it stresses me out at times. This weekend, Lincoln showed me his “Ninja Moves” over Skype, and it was kind of depressing. I didn’t realize how big he was getting and seeing him run around the living room with some semblance of coordination reminded me of what I’m missing at home! I hate that, but realize that it comes with the calling. I just keep telling myself (and others who will listen) that nobody ever said you could follow Christ without sacrifices. When I get stressed out because I miss my family, or my room gets tossed, or for any other reason, I’ve started imagining myself walking into our home and entering each room! I see my wife (man she looks good), and my kids in my mind, and it puts me at peace! The stress leaves, and I’m ready to carry out the Plan of the Day! It reminds me of what Maximus did in Gladiator or what CPT. John Miller did in Saving Private Ryan. They removed themselves from the situation at hand for just a few moments, reflected on what was truly important, and then took care of business!
Today at Bible Study the OTCN chaplain spoke on “Loving your enemies, even though you were literally killing them.” He specifically addressed the OCS students, but lumped us chaplains in as part of the United States “War Machine.” It’s been said that at the end of the day, it’s ultimately about, “Dropping warheads on foreheads,” and that came out in the chaplain’s message. Ultimately, we minister to sailors and marines so they can go out and “Drop warheads on foreheads.” He based his message on Romans 13, and I agreed with everything he said, however, I know I still have to wrestle more with this issue before I fully come to grips with this new ministry and its ultimate results. I wasn’t alone, but as we walked back to King Hall, we all agreed that we had all experienced a clear cut call to this ministry, and God wouldn’t have us here if he didn’t want us here. Regardless of what our sailors and marines end up doing, they need spiritual care and many of them need to know Christ as their Savior. I pray God will continue to have his hand upon me as I undertake this ministry!
Monday starts week 5, and I can’t wait! This week we get to do a lot of fun things. On Monday, we are going to do damage control drills on the USS Buttercup. These drills simulate a sinking ship which we get to try and save. We will also get to put on firefighting equipment and learn how to put out fires, and we are headed back to the combat pool for some kind of training I have heard nothing about. I just know we are going! We graduate on Friday at 9am, and I can’t believe it’s almost here! The last 4 weeks have flown by, and I’m sure this week will go just as quickly. Amy is coming in on Tuesday, and I think I will be able to see her Tuesday night if it gets cleared. If not, I should be able to on Wednesday, and our Class Chief said we should be able to check out of King Hall and spend Thursday night in town with family after Himoms at the O-Club (We’ll See!). I can’t wait until Amy gets here! I get so excited when I think about it, my heart beats a little bit faster! She is the love of my life and the best woman I know! We’ve talked about heading to Boston together, but we may hang out in Newport for a couple days! There is a lot I haven’t seen here! It really doesn’t matter what we do because we’ll be together!
I still count it a privilege to serve God and Country in the World’s Finest Navy! Hopefully the next time I update this blog I will have graduated and I’ll be writing from South Carolina! God bless you, and I hope you Have A Fine Navy Day (HAFND)!