Friday, May 23, 2008

Part 1 The Navy "Great Lakes and Beyond"

I was born in Chicago in 1959 and grew up on the northwest side. My mom died when I was six, so I was raised by my Dad. In many ways, some people might say that he was'nt the best dad in the world. He drank, we moved over 20 times. He rarely held a job, and he fought depression his whole life. Though he never hit me, he never used bad language towards me, he taught me to respect America, as his folks had come here from Poland around the trun of the 19th century, and he had it tough. I did'nt know it until after he died, but he was born at home with a midwife, and his brother, my uncle Raymond told me, that he did not want a brother when my Dad was born. Times were tough and they knew it.

My dad loved baseball and was a die hard Cubs fan. His best years were when he was in the Navy as a Ships Cook and when he worked for the railroad. So I grew up with him telling me stories about the Navy and the railroad. He also encouraged me to always think out of the box and to not be afraid to do things. He always used to yell at me to "get off of his apron strings". The other great thing he did for me was to see that I went to Washington DC wih my 8th grade class, this ignited of love of history in me that has'nt been extinguished to this very day. So when the time came, it was only natural for me to join the Navy and to see a good portion of the world.

I enlisted in 1978 and was immediately sent to the Great Lake Naval Recruit Training Center, north of Chicago. Ironically, it would also be the last ride that I would take on a Chicago and Northwestern Train, the rairoad that my dad worked for, as by the time that I got out of the Navy, the CNW would be almost gone.

I was quickly introduced to my Company Commanders, Chief Sufficool and Chief Edgar. Both were tough, older Sailors and well seasoned Navy Chiefs. I did well in basic, and quickly put to use a lot of the things that my dad had told me over the years. I knew what was going on right aways, because my dad was a chief, and his oral history of his Navy experience paid off in flying colors. Many of the habits that dad had developed, he kept through civilain life and he had explained these habits to me more than once. So when the Red Ropes (meaning Company Commander, CC's wear a read braided sash around their shoulder) spoke, I understood their language.

But basic also made realize that I could do things that I did not know I could do. By week four of basic, I realized I had both a brain and a body that when used together, yielded results.
The basic training experience has been potrayed in writing and hollywood on more than one ocassion, so I won't expand on being a boot. But for the younger reader, I will say that the basic training phase is not freightening experience that it is made out to be by some writers and screen writers, it is the best thing that a young person could do for themselves. There is no better person to discipline than yourself.

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