What Not To Do Around Your Admiral

One of the joys of a semi-anonymous blog: I can share the following story. Of a near catastrophe I almost caused around our Admiral.

Rear Admiral (Upper Half)

But the Navy brought me up right. I learned me some of ‘dem fancypant manners at OCS. And if there is one thing I know about being a gentleman, we should not jump right into the entree, without first traipsing through the lesser courses.

Let’s start with a brief sidebar, a little Navy hors d’oeuvres: a 2-Star Admiral is referred to as a Rear Admiral (Upper Half) and is abbreviated RADM. While a 1-Star is a Rear Admiral (Lower Half) and written as RDML. Three quick appetizers from the genius wikkans from wiki-land:

1. The uniformed services of the United States are unique in having two grades of rear admirals.

2. U.S. Code of law explicitly limits the total number of flag officers that may be on active duty at any given time. The total number of active duty flag officers is capped at 160 for the Navy.

3. By tradition in the United States Navy, when an officer is selected or appointed to flag rank all current Navy flag officers write the selectee a letter congratulating him or her for attaining flag officer status.

Why am I throwing out random, admirable facts? If it were not already obvious, I have a near train-wreck to recount. And the said accident is of my own doing. And I am stalling. For time. As in: trying to buy some. You rolling your eyes at me? Alright, let’s get right to it.

It is in the afternoon. Lunch has been had and I am walking across base. My Senior Chief and I are heading off to some briefing, the topic which long ago escaped me. Perhaps: alcohol awareness (ie: remembering where you stashed your Schlitz.) Or maybe: suicidal signs (which may push me towards that option, should I have to sit through another training on it.)

Black Navy Pump

My Senior Chief is a female and she wears pumps. (Ladies: I think that is the correct term, right? The dress heeled shoe? How did y’all come to call them pumps anyway?) When she clomps down our cement hallways, she is like a drummer-girl. You always know far in advance when she is about to arrive. Her pumps rat-ta-ta-tat in front of her minutes before she does.

The wide corridor is nearly deserted. I duck into the head while Senior runs back to her desk to grab her forgotten notes. (The head is the restroom, the latrine for all you ground doggies.) Senior’s heels echo from way down and I decide to surprise her as they get closer. I dry my hands and wait inside the doorway.

Grover: Hi Senior Chief!

My genius plan? To stick my head out sideways and in my best Grover voice (of Sesame Street infame) say: Hi Senior!

Before you grumble anything about propriety and the uniform, know that I am super-serious about most Navy matters. And the unique nature of our job, in that we have very few junior Sailors around, has brought me and Senior closer together than might normally be the case. Do I need any more excuses for my impending Thomas J. Foolery?

I am standing in the doorway, cuing up my Grover voice. His is a very throaty accent and I roll my tonsils out like a baker, revving them up. Something, some tiny filter, reminds me that I am a Lieutenant, not an Ensign anymore. And I don’t say anything. I actually hold back, stepping mutely out into the hallway.

Guess who marches by, in serious chatter with a Captain? Our Two-Star. He shoots me a quick, stern look. I greet him. Good Afternoon, Admiral. 

Afternoon, he replies, continuing on. He knows me. I have been in his office a couple of times. Not for any infractions mind you, just Navy things. Also, he pinned me when I got my warfare device.

Senior clatters up, fifteen feet behind them, her shoes echoing unabashedly. Senior, I have a hell of story to tell you, I begin.

There you have it. My almost train-wreck.

Let’s stick with the topic of Navy brass. Our new Chief of Naval Operations recently put out a video clip titled: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert’s first message to the fleet.

The CNO, Admiral Greenert, with Jimmy Buffet

In my eyes, he was solid in his address. (Obviously, I would not say anything if I thought otherwise.) He comes across as real. And earnest, rather than pre-packaged.

It also does not hurt when a contractor, an old sub guy, tells me him and the CNO were LTs together sometime during the last century. Anyone who was once an el-tee is alright in my book.

I can say more on his delivery, his content, his demeanor, but I will let the salty YouTube commenters (with whom I may/may not agree with) have the last hurrah:

huskie767 said: Why do all commissioned naval officers go out of their way to insert the word “diversity” into their remarks? What does diversity have to do with anything? You don’t win wars because you have a black, white, yellow, green or gay person on your team. You win because the best are being the best. As CNO, Greenert should know that. I wonder why he suggest otherwise?

Admiral Greenert, New CNO, Old Sub Guy

Ak74fu2000 said: MILITARY QUOTE OF THE DAY:”When I joined it was illegal to be gay, then it was legal, but you couldn’t talk about it. Now it’s legal. I’m getting the hell out before it’s mandatory!

RickRMiller said: Bravo Zulu, sir! I really appreciate the fact that you state clearly that ours is a fighting navy.

21 thoughts on “What Not To Do Around Your Admiral”

  1. Interesting, Navy One…the new CNO, a sub guy and staccato Black Navy pumps..a non sequitur??? Ah, the lengths to which the mind wanders in the pursuit of a subject…you should have followed through on the Grover voice…the Admiral probably would have remembered you for a long time…and not with favor, I imagine….pretty funny…..k

  2. Lou: It could have gotten real ugly. Somehow, someway I was spared.
    Kris: Good observation on the black shoe. It was non-intentional. I still thank my lucky stars I did not use the ol’ Grover voice. . .

  3. I felt a moment of panic Navy One, and actually verbalized, “Oh, you did NOT!” I was glad to see your filter was in place and functioning correctly. This is probably horror flashback to someone at my friend’s last command in Bahrain rickrolled a three star. And yes, I was happy that it was not my friend who did it.

  4. This was a pretty entertaining story, but it would be one of those “you’ll never believe what I did stories” if you had actually pulled your Grover voice out for the Admiral! That would become the king of all sea stories for years to come. Although it would more likely start something like this, “You’ll never believe what my friend, Navy One, did at my last command!” As that moment would become part of everyone else’s stories, and you would just pray that everyone (especially the Admiral) would just forget that moment forever. Ha Ha! Well, I am VERY glad that you showed the maturity of a LT (for your sake!)

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