What I Learned Training at a New Navy Base

I’ve spent the last week away from my usual Navy command. I am still local, in balmy San Diego, but was afforded the rare opportunity to go to a new base in civvies. As in, I did not have to wear a uniform to class. The following is a list of observations from my adventure:

Explosive Ordinance Disposal

1. If you are on the phone, listening rapturously to a cell-phone message from a system engineer describing an issue with your program, it would pay dividends to also keep one eye on your surroundings. Yes, I was standing off the sidewalk, so as to not impede the flow of foot-traffic. Yes, I perched behind the giant fence near the softball field, so as to be protected. Yes, I was not listening to the announcer call the Navy softball game, so as to hang on every technical word. No, I did not hear all the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) guys hollering at me. Heads up! Fore! Yes, I was startled when a home-run ball impacted the grass eight feet from where I was standing. And yes, I threw it back over the fence with a lucky grin.

2. Navy chow varies somewhat from place to place. The mystery meat does not taste better smothered with sauce. And, it is hard to screw up cooked beans or a salad.

3. Picking out clothes is harder than it appears. I am looking forward to next week when I can go back to swaddling myself in light tan (khaki.)


4. The Navy is promoting sixteen year-olds to Chief. Squared away sixteen year-olds. (Translation: the new Chiefs look like kids. This may have more to do with me than them.)

5. I can still eat a double Smashburger and sweet potato fries in less than five minutes if absolutely forced to. (The one lunch we all went off base to, the kitchen was backed-up. And we returned to class late, but happy.)

6. I like being back in school. For years, after Berkeley, I hated the classroom with a vengeance. It is far different when you want to be in attendance.

7. When in civvies, I sir or ma’am every civilian I chat with. (Provided they are over forty years of age.) It makes me happy for some reason. When in uniform, I am almost the same, but it has a slightly different flavor. I just can’t explain it.

8. Navy life is like building a sandwich. You keep adding layers of beef, cole slaw, lettuce. And one day, you realize you have a heckuva hoagie in terms of knowledge. Either that or I am very hungry typing this. . .

9. Uniform or not, the Marine, Navy, Air Force and Army vets I am taking the class with fall back into comfortable military banter pretty easily. Not in stature, but in conversation. And the Navy is still the most funny. The Marines, the most silently menacing. The Air Force, the best golfers. And the Army, well, they just laugh when I tell them that I am not much of camper, so I would’ve been a poor Soldier in America’s Army. (I stole the joke off a friend, but it fits, so I gotta use it.)

10. I see about ten options for the rest of my Navy career, all of which are appealing to me. Moral of the story: I am damn lucky to call myself a Sailor. Now where is that snack?

29 thoughts on “What I Learned Training at a New Navy Base”

  1. I see you retiring form the Navy and drawing SS at the same time. You are there for life (a true LIFER.) Not a bad thing if you really like our job. What are your options?

    1. Yes, I am a lifer. I like it a lot, the Navy is a great job. As for my prospects, I sent you an email on them. Some good choices, I think.

  2. You pretty much captured every reason it is awesome to be in the US Navy. For that alone, we are lucky. But, you are far luckier for not getting knocked out by the ball fields! Glad you survived this week of training!

  3. You’ll have to at least make Captain if that’s your wish, Navy One…it doesn’t seem worth the effort if you don’t…jumping through all those hoops and so forth…I can only hope you get everything you desire at least in that regard…you’re a very deserving fellow….k

  4. The luxury I always looked forward to was attending a joint service course run by the RAF.

    Not only is the accommodation far better but the food in the main dining hall (as well as the Mess in later years) was far superior to what the RM ‘food spoilers’ could muster.

    I recall once going to a pre-booked early breakfast where upon the duty ‘chef’ asked what I would like;

    “skinheads on a raft mate” (Heinz baked beans on toast)

    “is that all Royal”?

    I felt guilty over dragging the ‘chef’ in earlier than his normal shift time…

    “full english then if that’s ok”?

    He smiled and nodded, and went off and did his magic trickery with much clattering, banging and singing…

    Five minutes later I was served with a full english with two choices of toasted bread and all of the trimmings. The pot of tea and two types of individual marmalade pots sealed the deal.

    I have attended numerous courses run by the RAF, each of which resulted in additional physical training sessions just to keep the body beautiful…

    Yours Aye.
    (Off to make a bacon sandwich)…

  5. Kris: RGR, Ma’am! I’ll do my best.
    EB: MMmmmm, beans on toast. Sounds deeelish. (I have earned an appreciation of beans this week!)

  6. I really appreciate your service. The service would be difficult for me – I don’t like structure – free spirit and all.

    This is very different from my life and I find your stories very interesting.

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