*Post from Steven*
January 22st, 2012
I wrote this last weekend, but didn’t have time to post it. I’ll try and write another and post it this weekend.
Week 3 is over, and we received off-base liberty this weekend, which is pretty cool considering the students at OCS are locked down for the entire time they are at Officer Training Command. We had to stay on Aquidneck Island this weekend. There are three bridges and maybe a ferry, and we were ordered to stay off all of them! I spent Saturday at the Liberty Center, and then we went out on the tizown! We ate at the Brick Alley pub, ran a few errands and came home. The food was expensive, and I couldn’t bring myself to spend $25+ for seafood or steak. I had a bacon cheese burger, my favorite! I almost tried one of my shipmate’s sushi, but then logic took over. I’ve gone 33 years without it, why try it now?
We have heard rumblings of overnight off-base liberty in civvies* next weekend. There is a 100 mile travel radius, and everybody is talking about going to Boston. I have mixed feelings. I want to go, but now without my bride. It just won’t be the same. I’ll probably do it because most accommodations are better than staying in KH 5407. It’s not bad, but at the end of the day, it’s just a place to sleep. We have a desk, dresser, and bed. The room is so hot that neither me nor my roommate need a blanket. We get on our PTU’s and sleep w/o covers. We tried opening the window for relief, but the room stayed hot! As I’m typing this, it’s 32 degrees outside, the window is open, and I am literally breaking a sweat because it is so hot. I can’t complain, though. I’m still sleeping well, and am much more fortunate than those on our floor who have lost heat over the last few nights.
This week was quite eventful. We had our Mid-PRT, and I improved! I cut nearly a minute off my 1.5 mile run by finishing at 11:00, added 7 pushups, but my sit-ups stayed about the same. We also took our final exam for the first half of our training and I passed that as well with a 91%. I wanted a 100%, but couldn’t pull it off this time. Monday starts a new unit called the Division Officer Leadership Course. I’m not sure what that is about, but it sounds more interesting than the “Death by Powerpoint” we have been experiencing.
We also got our immunizations on Tuesday and Thursday. I had to get six shots (3 each day) and one flu-mist. In my opinion, the shots are better than the mist. There is some manly pride in taking a shot without wincing, but there is just something wrong with another human being spraying liquid up your nose! It’s almost degrading!
The big event for the week was the Service Dress Blues inspection. I passed that as well, but I haven’t seen the final score sheet so I don’t know what or how many I missed. I’m sure I took a few dings as my grader did point out a few minor flaws like smudges on my tie clip, and officer insignia, and that I forgot to tuck in my shoe laces, and trim my excess belt to less than 4”. The inspection was pretty intense for a group of newly commissioned officers. We stood at parade rest outside our hatches (rooms) from 1445 until 1500 and then the “fun” began. The graders entered, and “Attention on Deck” was announced. We quickly moved to the position of attention and waited for our graders to square off in front of us. Once they did, we were to give them the greeting of the day and do whatever they told us to. Mine had me walk into my room (using proper facing movements with 90 degree turns) and get my ruler. He measured a few things on my desk, and then I stood at the position of attention, and he began asking me questions from my gouge pack. I knew the answers to his questions, and passed that part without much trouble. It was difficult because as I was rattling off information, he would interrupt me, point out mistakes in my uniform, or ask any other questions he thought pertinent. Once I answered him, I had to start where I left off. I did stumble a few times, but we are able to ask for “Permission to Correct” if we recognize we made a mistake. At the end of it he asked me if I was stressed during the inspection. I said “A little bit, sir!” and he said “Just so you know, a naval officer doesn’t need to yell and scream to intimidate people; all it takes is our presence.” I would agree after our inspection, but I’m not sure how the “intimidation factor” works as a chaplain. Before he left the room he “complimented” me by telling me I knew my knowledge “pretty good.” At the end of the inspection, my roommate who has 23 years in the Army, and others who heard my inspection said I did awesome. It didn’t feel that awesome, but I must have done better than I thought! When it was all over, we were given time to “recover our uniforms,” (put on our jackets and straighten up everything they messed up (like my excess belt he pulled out and left), and then we were supposed to go back outside our hatches and stand at parade rest. I was one of the first ones, and forgot what I was supposed to do after being inspected, so I just stood in the room at attention until another grader ordered me to get outside at parade rest. Then I stood by as everybody else was inspected. It was interesting hearing the other inspections, they were all a little bit different. Some people failed, and had to go through another inspection on Saturday at 0800. Everybody who failed the first inspection passed the second one! This is a tribute to Delta Company as a whole! Friday night after the inspection, and Saturday morning before it commenced multiple people were helping their shipmates study their knowledge and get their uniforms together. We are learning that life in the Navy is not about individuals on their OFP (Own Friggin’ Program), but about working as a team to accomplish the mission. We stand together, we fall together!
There are also some other good things happening in our company. You may remember that I was nominated for a Bravo-Zulu award for tearing off a piece of my gouge for a shipmate. A couple people have told me they were very impressed and amazed with what I did. I have also seen various other shipmates following my lead. Several times at chow you’ll hear gouge being ripped apart to help out a shipmate. It’s pretty cool to know that you were the one who started it all!
I also had the opportunity to call “Attention on Deck” for the commanding officer at OTCN. Anytime he walks into a room (which is very rare) or across the quarterdeck (also very rare) we are to call “Attention on Deck, move to the position of attention, salute and give the greeting of the day. Our instruction was to follow this protocol even if he was in his birthday suit. So. . . I was standing watch as Officer of the Deck on Thursday night when he exited through the quarterdeck in his civilian clothes. I called “Attention on Deck” and saluted, but forgot the greeting of the day. He gave it, I responded, and the he told us to carry on. As far as I know there is only two other people who had to do that! Fortunately, they put up with our errors as they train us to be Naval officers.
Today I had duty which meant me and my duty section are responsible for the security of King Hall and a couple other buildings nearby. This duty section was much different than those I had been on before. The other times I was on duty, my watch was as Officer of the Deck, or Rover, but today I am responsible for colors. I was part of the detail responsible for raising the flag at 0800 and lowering it at sunset. It was a great experience to help raise Old Glory here at Officer Training Command. Because of the wind conditions, we’re unable to use the large flag on our 100+ ft flag pole, and we had to settle for a smaller flag on a shorter pole. It was still a privilege to stand at the position of attention in the blowing snow while our national anthem is played and our colors go up!
The other new thing about my duty section was the snow! Apparently the Navy doesn’t need to pay for professionals to remove snow from the sidewalks here. They have students (us) to take care of that for them. It snowed hard yesterday and several inches of snow and snow drifts covered all the sidewalks. Because we were on duty, it was our responsibility to shovel it. Other than a brief respite at chapel, and lunch, my detail and I shoveled snow from 0800 to 1430. We shoveled drift covered sidewalks at King Hall, Callaghan Hall, the combat training pool, and even shoveled around the Commanding Officer’s government vehicle. Believe it not, it was great fun! Our shoveling group was filled with lighthearted, fun-loving people who embraced the mission and carried out with great gusto. We joked, laughed, and told stories as we worked. There was a great espirit de corps, and the time flew by.
Other than that, I miss my family like crazy, and it’s only 9 more days until Amy is here! I can’t wait until she is in my arms again, even if it is for only a couple days. I hate that it may be the end of March before I see the kiddos. (I’m hoping Amy will bring them out for the weekend halfway through if possible.) They are each amazing in their own way, and missing out on their daily lives is killing me. Fortunately, I receive a daily log of activity from Amy. It always brings a smile to my face and makes me miss them more and more. I generally think about them each morning at breakfast and walk to and from chow with a smile on my face! Being apart from them is difficult, but as I explained to them, nobody (not even Christ himself) ever said following Christ would be easy. As I think on that, I am taken back to our Biblical Leadership Study last weekend when the base chaplain taught from Romans 8:14. He reminded us that we were led here by God so we could lead others to him. That’s why I’m here, and I have had several opportunities to visit with people about Christ and his role in my life. Keep praying the seeds I am planting will grow. Pray I will keep focused on the real mission as the busyness of training is always a distraction. Other believers in our company have the same problem, so pray for them too. Eleven days and a wakeup, and we are out of here! God bless you all!