Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids.


A compilation of stories and lessons learned

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What NOT To Do Before you Join the Navy.




*The following advice column may contain slightly explicit language and/or suggestive indications of naughty words.  I apologize in advance- but it is nearly impossible to tell G-rated boot camp stories.  Please do not read if easily offended.  But come back and read next week's post.  It'll be cleaner, I'm sure.

In the past month or so, many brilliant (and possibly not-so-brilliant) young men and women have graduated high school.  Right now they are probably enjoying their lackadaisical summers, sipping lemonade and tanning by the pool.  When autumn arrives, however; they will embark on a journey into a world full of opportunities.  Many will go to college.  Some may go right to work.  A few will just sleep a lot on their parent’s couch.  And the remainder may think it would be a good idea to join one of the branches of the military.

Though I cannot speak for all branches- I will say joining the Navy was a decision I do not regret.  Although, there are many things I wish I could go back and tell myself during those crazy beginning months.  Mainly:  You will survive. 

And of course there are many lessons I've learned along the way by watching others learn the hard way.  Being the nice person that I am- I would like to take this opportunity to pass on some of these important lessons for others that follow. 

Below are 4 major lessons of what NOT to do before you join the Navy:


1.  Do not go and smoke a “doobie” [as we used to call it in Bena] at your going away party the night before you leave for boot camp.  You will get a drug test upon arrival and get kicked out dishonorably.  You will be unable to get a job anywhere- even McDonald's.  They even said so.  I guess the Navy owns McDonalds.

2.  Do not get pregnant the night before you leave for boot camp.  This will be hard to hide in the upcoming weeks.  Pregnancy tests are part of your entry exam.  This is one test you want to do NEGATIVE-ly on.

[Though this lesson pertains to women - I’d strongly recommend guys are cautious in this matter as well.  Boot Camp is the last place you want baby-mama drama following you.]

3.  Do not join the Navy if you cannot do a single push-up.  You will pay.  We all will pay.  You will pay for making others pay.

4.  And for the love of all that is right and holy, please do NOT join the Navy if you cannot swim.  (Think:  Navy= ships.  Ships float on w-a-t-e-r.)

Sounds legit, right?  However, one would be surprised how many people lie about their inability to swim.  This is not the same as covering up the fact that you love disco.  You can hide Afro wigs and bell bottoms in your drawers.  You cannot hide the fact that you float like a cinder block.

If you do make the choice to join the Navy and you suddenly remember on swim day that you cannot swim, the best thing to do would be to own up to it. [you argue with me for a minute here]  Shhh.  Just do it.

How do you do that, you may ask.  First, you must tell your RDC (Recruit Division Commander- aka Drill Instructor).  If you choose not to, they are going to figure it out when you sink like a granite rock to the bottom of the pool.  You will save yourself lots of time- and choking- if you fess up early-on. 

Your conversation may go something like this:

“Petty Officer so-and-so,” you say.

“WHAT IS IT RECRUIT?”  (That is what they will call you.)

“Um, there’s something I need to… um, tell you,” you begin.

“DAMMIT WHAT IS IT RECRUIT I DON’T HAVE ALL DAY SPIT IT OUT!”

You get nervous now, because of all of the yelling.  Your palms begin to sweat.  You forget what you were going to say.  “I, ah,” you stumble, buying time until you remember.  You swallow, but it feels like you have a cherry stuck in your throat.  Not the little maraschino ones- the big black cherries.

After what seems like 50 minutes and 10 seconds, you manage to pull it together.  “Sir, I just thought you should know-"

“GODDAMMIT RECRUIT I WORK FOR A LIVING DON’T CALL ME SIR,” the RDC interrupts.

And you lost your thoughts again.  Nervous pause.  Thinking.  RDC waiting.  Everyone looking with pleading eyes as if they are saying, “What are you doing? Don’t anger him!  We’ll all pay.  Again.” 

“Petty officer, it’s just that I don’t think I can really technically swim,” you just blurt out at last- relieved to be done talking for the moment.

The RDC pauses, looking you up and down as if you’ve grown a third leg.  He studies your face.  You begin to think he is thinking about how sorry he is for you.  Perhaps compassionate, even.  Then he takes a deep breath and begins.

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT DO YOU NOT REALIZE THIS IS THE NAVY WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU JOIN THE NAVY IF YOU CAN’T SWIM DON’T YOU REALIZE THAT NAVY EQUALS SHIPS AND SHIPS LIVE IN THE WATER WHAT THE HELL DID YOUR MAMA SIGN YOU UP FOR DID SHE HAVE TO [censored] THE RECRUITER TO GET YOU INTO THE NAVY YOU’RE ABOUT AS USELESS AS NIPPLES ON A BULL WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING SON GO GET BACK IN LINE RIGHT NOW AND YOU WILL WAIT UNTIL EVERYONE IS DONE TAKING THEIR TEST LIKE A SHRIVELED UP PRUNE IN THE WATER AND THEN YOU WILL GO WITH PETTY OFFICER SO-AND-SO SO HE CAN TAKE YOUR HAND AND TEACH YOU HOW TO SWIM LIKE A LITTLE GIRL SO I DON’T HAVE TO STARE AT YOUR PUNY [censored] RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND HE WILL TEACH YOU TO DO ALL THE THINGS YOUR MAMA NEVER TAUGHT YOU DO YOU UNDERSTAND RECRUIT NOW GET THE [censored] OUT OF MY FACE.”

And then they will teach you how to swim. See how helpful they can be?

27 comments:

  1. Seriously, I can't believe people would even think of joining the Navy if they can't swim... Common sense... Wow! Thank you, your post made me smile!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So happy to hear it made you smile! You'd be surprised to learn what people think they can get away with- or will never be discovered upon entering boot camp.

      Delete
    2. I want to join the Navy so badly. And no, I can't swim. I can't even float. But I want to learn. I learned from various places that if recruits can't swim when they join, they will be taught in preparation for the Third Class Swim Exam. Why, you may ask, can't I? Well, mom can't teach what she can't even do. And dad wasn't present in my life. Plus, being an urban city boy near no pond, lakes, rivers, or shores, I would have no need, despite it being a life saving skill. So yeah, I'm gonna be bold, and face my fears, and swim... in the Navy.

      Delete
  2. I heard that in 1975 in Great Lakes. Thanks for sharing. M.A. Joenks, AWC (ret.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I can only imagine the things they yelled back in 1975 before the Navy was "PC". Thanks so much for reading! It's always great to hear from other military and/or veterans.

      Delete
  3. You know, I can swim, but I am pretty sure I'm glad I didn't join the Navy all the same! I kinda suspect I would shout back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha- I've heard that from others. I guess you never know how you'll act until you're in that situation. It's difficult to suck it up and be 'broken down', however I think it's even worse to suffer the consequences of talking back. It's entirely a mental game.

      Delete
  4. Does knowing how to swim different from knowin how to float?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hmmm. In regular bootcamp you probably can get away with just staying above water.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My brother joined the Navy and couldn't swim. He said all of the stories people hear about Recruits being treated like dogs isn't true! They do that in the beginning to earn respect. After that, the "Higher-Up" are pretty cool!!! He actually had the best time of his life in the Navy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree- and this was the very beginning. Scare tactics! Despite my dramatic posts- I would never discourage anyone from joining the Navy. Best decision I ever made! Loved it- well, most of it! :)

      Delete
  7. But let me add that my brother also said that on swim day, he got pushed in the water and was told to sink or swim! The only good outcome that day was that he did in fact learn how to swim!!! He still laughs about this til today lol!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha- the Navy has amazing teaching skills!

      Delete
  8. I've gotta say, I admire you though for joining and serving the country. You should be proud. Though I am confused, I thought that because of all the close quarters, women weren't allowed on submarines to prevent sexual assault.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much!! You are correct. According to Chief of Naval Operations Submarine Warfare Division (http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/faq.html), as of right now, “Women are not currently assigned to submarine crews because of the very limited habitability and privacy onboard a submarine. However, women have been on submarines for short durations as civilian technicians for specialized equipment testing, family members for one-day dependent cruises, and female midshipmen conducting two-day orientation cruises.” I do believe the time is quickly approaching; however, the living quarters must first be revamped.

      That being said, women like myself are flying on the P-3 aircraft tracking the hell out of the men down on the submarines! :)

      Delete
    2. P.S. Unfortunately, sexual assault can occur no matter what the size of the living spaces.

      Delete
  9. I'm really thinking about joining the navy. I have one more year before I graduate with my bachelors degree in computer science. I'm thinking about joining because I'm having a hard time at school because I hardly get any time to study because I work to provide for myself. I cld use the extra help and I figured it would help me in the long run in terms of learning something (a skill). Do you think it would be a good idea to put school on pause and sign up? I just want a better life rather than just working and going to school. I just got a job working for the usps. Shld I just stay with the USPS and try and finish school? I'm 27years old

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, that’s definitely a tough call. I can understand how difficult things must be right now financially. Also being 27, your time is nearing to make a decision. Have you spoken with a recruiter yet for some information? I know they are always wheeling and dealing and painting some pretty pictures of what they can do for your future. Sometimes they can offer you enlistment bonuses that will pay off your current school loans. Everyone who enlists right now should receive the Post 911 College Fund which will pay for the rest of your schooling as well as your living expenses after you’ve completed your enlistment. If you decide you cannot continue to afford college, that may be your best bet. Then after you are in, finish your degree (with 100% paid tuition assistance) and you could put in your request to go to Officer Candidate School and put that degree to use.

      The best advice I could tell you right now is get as much information right now as you can from multiple sources. Don’t trust a single recruiter- but put together the pieces from many sources. If you can, talk to anyone you know that is active duty as well- that would be even better. Don’t sign anything until you know exactly what you’re signing. Don’t get talked into anything that doesn’t feel right in your gut. Do your research!! And if you decide to enlist… enjoy your journey!

      You must be prepared to work hard, as you get out of it what you put into it. But if you are already supporting yourself, then you already know what it’s like to work hard. Best of luck to you!!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the fast response. I have been doing research and asking even people who I don't know their opinion on joining the navy. I got offered two job positions after I posted the previous comment. Usps and NY transit. would you take those job opportunities instead of the navy? I think I might think about it some more before signing. I'll try both jobs and if it doesn't work out I'll just sign the dotted lines

      Delete
    3. I guess it's all in what you're looking for. You may have to do a bit of soul searching. If you're looking for travel, and some college money- and you aren't afaid of buffing decks (waxing floors) and can handle taking orders from others, I say go Navy. Have an adventure!! BUT you will be stuck for the next 4-6 years even if you hate it. Perhaps like you said try the jobs and if they aren't what you're looking for- then go NAVY! At least you can quit civilian jobs! Feel free to comment or pm me if you have any more questions in the future. I have a FB page that you could go through too: https://www.facebook.com/juliamakiauthor Take care!!

      Delete
  10. Hey julia, I was really thinking about joining the navy, I'm 20 & currently going to college right now finishing my basics. would it be a bad idea to join after my first semester?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, of course only you can make that decision for yourself. What has lead up to you thinking it may be something you want to do? Has it been something you've been wanting to do for awhile now? Is college just not working out for you? Is it something you can or cannot financially swing right now? There are so many variables to this decision- because ultimately it is a decision that affects the rest of your life. Perhaps you could talk to a recruiter to start gathering some information- see what you qualify for. You wouldn't want to quit college only to later find out that you don't physically qualify for the military based on an underlying condition you didn't know existed. Start doing the legwork and see where it takes you. Best of luck!!

      Delete
    2. Hey Julia, I been thinking about joining the Navy for sometime now, I was wondering if you could help answer a couple question I have about it.

      Delete
  11. I been thinking about joining the navy for sometime now, is there anyone who can answer a couple questions I have?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure Mike! Send me an email to capturingthestory@gmail.com. If I don't have the answer for you (ah hem, as it may have been a few years since I was in- just a few), I can contact friends/family of mine that are still in. Best of luck to you!

      Delete
  12. Hi I've been doing a lot of research to join naval academy, if that doesn't workout navy rotc or enlisted. Anyway I can I'm going to serve my country. Now I can float really well and backstroke is easy for me but when it comes to freestyle I struggle a little bit. Not that I can't do it but sometimes breathing and coordination doesn't work out. Long story short would this be a problem for me in the navy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For most of the jobs in the Navy, a basic swimming ability is acceptable. If you're going into something like Aircrew, Rescue Swimmer, or other special rates, you need to be a strong swimmer. If it is something you are concerned about, consider taking a few swimming lessons at the local pool. Best of luck to you!!

      Delete