There comes a time when it all just seems to come together – this was my year. I received my letter from PERS advising me that I had achieved eligibility for retirement. I also learned that I had been selected for Captain. The first I expected and the second was a delightful surprise. In the Navy, you normally wait 6 to 18 months to pin on the next rank. So this spring, I remain a commander, but cannot say that I am tired yet of people calling me Captain. I have discovered that there is a huge step in the way the Navy (be it the civilian or military side) treats a commander and a captain. Glad to have made it. Now I just need to decide what to do, since I will no longer be retiring in 2013 and I now need to re-enter civilian life while remaining a reservist for a three more years.
I am now in the fifth and final year of my recall. This is the year of sewing up loose ends and trying to make sure baton toss to my relief is successful. We have done lot in these five years. Some of it was my plan, some of it was my response, and some of it is just reacting to the evolving war and the Navy’s role in it. I am not well enough grounded to know what the public thinks of the war and how visible it is to them. But my job involves training, mobilizing, deploying, and receiving back the combat vets who are Naval Engineers. As such everyday I am tied into the war, planning for it, working with those executing it in theater, and working with the folks that come home and face re-integration into society. I am glad that I have been given the privilege to lead this effort for my community, am proud of my Sailors, and with regret realize that my role is starting to come to its end. I think the most important thing I have done with my professional life happened in Baghdad and second has been this job. Whats ahead? I don’t know, but look forward to find out.
So in between my musing on making captain, swinging the retirement, and contemplating the IA thing what have we been doing?
We had our send Seamanship and Land Warfare indoctrination course. This was another great experience with the Navy’s future. I had 10 Ensigns and 2 LTJGs this course. It rocked. Some highlights included:
- Driving the Zodiacs down to Liberty Island in NY Harbor in a squall (5″ seas and 16″ boats!!!). That was pretty awesome. All the tourist snapped our pictures as we zigged and zagged amongst the big boys. Lots of fun!
- The NY City Police Department’s combat pistol instructors taught my officers how to gunfight! Again lots of fun. We followed this with a field exercise using paintball where the young officers had to extract a downed pilot under fire. There were two insurgents, but they thought they were surrounded by at least 10 shooters!
- Firefighting school on a 100F day! Enough said!
- Mass casualty exercises under fire!
- Lots of marching, inspections, and general practicing not looking like Ensigns!
- A tour of the former USS INTREPID including a stop in Times Square in Summer Whites. We were the absolute center of attention. My young heros are still in the afterglow 6 months later.
If you haven’t done so lately, you may consider thanking a vet for the sacrifices they have made and say a pray for those in harm’s way.