She also wore cowboy boots and flats while she was in the Army. One of her sisters wore shorts in the Navy, another tried the Air Force, and their Dad, my Grandpa, was in the Army. Her future husband wore slacks with a Canon in his hand. My husband’s dad served temporarily; not that I knew that before I met Caleb. None of them chose to make it a career and none of it was my deciding factor to eventually join myself.
When I was in the 7th Grade I got the opportunity to go to Corpus Christi and visit the USS Lexington. I wouldn’t think about the Navy again until a recruiter came to my high school senior year. I wanted to go to college but didn’t have the money to fill out a bunch of applications and send non-refundable checks without a guarantee. I was also scared of the entry essay that some required. I love to write, but don’t have a book that changed my life.
I signed up and was in the DEP program. I would graduate May 28th and leave for boot camp July 19th the same year – 2004. I was only 17 and needed both my parents to sign consent. I had watched Full Metal Jacket and felt completely prepared to take all that came my way; it was nothing like the movie. I arrived with eight other girls, then the other 80 showed up. I loved the working out but didn’t feel like we did enough. We marched to breakfast where they served donuts – one jelly donut brought back memories.
Boot camp was in Great Lakes, Illinois. A hurricane in Florida kept me in Chicago until Christmas. I flew home, went back for my seabag, and then got flown to Pensacola for a five month school. There is always a delay in a Chicago airport, if you ever go. School seemed to go by in a week. I had night classes and I had freedom to eat at Waffle House every night as it was that or Sonic within walking distance. I broke my foot within the first week but it didn’t stop me from eating or going to the beach everyday.
It was finally my turn to enter what I thought was the real Navy – being on board a ship. I got stationed on the USS Whidbey Island in Virginia Beach, VA. The first three days were great. I got to wear the same thing everyday, clean the same spot for an hour everyday, and then look important in my office for a few hours everyday. And then I got sent to make the salad bar with 19 or so options, and clean and serve food to the other 400 people on board.
I hated this job and I liked to party. I would be tired arriving at 4:00am to serve breakfast. Afterwards I would try to nap but it was always a hassle as to where to sleep and not get caught. Most everyone on the ship gets a chance at this three-month hell, though some people like washing dishes – their job must suck. I was a CTT (cryptological technician); I worked with computers and weapons. Then, I met this boy.
My boss didn’t like this boy who had grease and oil on him. He was an engineer and helped keep all four engines running properly. This boy would leave the ship bound for another Apr 2006 and I didn’t like my job without him. I asked to leave – NO. I begged to leave – NO. I tried to be transferred – NO. So what did I do; I waved goodbye to my ship as they left port on 06/6/06 for a six month deployment. I was nervous the five months I was gone of getting arrested and sent to Ft. Leavenworth.
I turned myself in and they had pity on me. Ha, not really. They were going to send me back and I said – NO. This was October and I wasn’t finally free until January 7, 2007. My parents thought I was pregnant on heroin; why else would I give up a career for some boy. This boy would go on two deployments and I was free to mail him 26 pound boxes of love, and clean underwear. If I had stayed we would have been apart for at least two years, due to the ship schedules, something I chose not to have to deal with.
My job was easy, my time short, and I had my share of fun. Do I regret what I did – NO. Yes, I want to go overseas but it will be way more fun to actually see things then have to go out with buddies that only want beer and sex. I went in thinking I would do my twenty years and have retirement money to see the world. Now, that boy is my husband and we are hoping for the same opportunity. The government tells us that we will only get a percentage of our social security and that they want to change the retirement program.
Caleb has been in over eight years and is an E-6. He just reenlisted for six years and will be stationed in San Diego for that time. He plans on retiring and we plan on making the most of what we have and what we get. Caleb will have monthly income to help support our dreams. I’m glad my Mom wore combat boots and had me. I’m glad I wore them too and found a husband who can do the wearing – those boots are not kind to your feet.