Thursday, June 10, 2010


Grandpa joined the US Navy during WWII. He served on the USS Cebu, a repair ship and sailed 3/4 of the way around the world. At this point I am wishing I would have been able to talk to him more about his Navy career. I believe he was a Chief Petty Officer, and I am not sure of his exact Rate. I called my mom to track down a video interview I did of him when I was in 7th Grade. So, once I get a hold of that tape I can fill you in on more details.

One thing about me is that I am very proud of my Heritage. I come from a line of plumbers with me being the fourth generation. My Great Grandfather, Herald Williams, started the plumbing business and at one point employed over 20 men. We were one of the largest shops in the small town of Austin, MN. My Grandfather, apparently, up and joined the Navy, or as he says "the Service". After his service, he reestablished himself in the plumbing business. Next was my Father and then me. I still get sad that it ended with me. Now the business is sold and my Father and my careers have taken different paths down the plumbing trade road. He is a Master Plumber with the City of Duluth. I have worked at Home Depot as Master Trade Specialist in the Plumbing Dept, as a Sewer Maintenance Worker and now as a Maintenance Tech for my apartment complex. Plumbing has served me well. It has allowed me to provide for my wife and I, and has shown me how much I appreciate my Father and the skills he has taught me. I am proud of my Dad and thankful that I was provided the opportunity to work alongside him for nearly 10 years.

But this blog is not about my past. It's about my future in the US Navy. As you can tell, I am proud of my family heritage. I got my itch to join the Navy from talking with my Grandfather. I originally wanted to join right out of High School. Why I did not is something of a mystery, but I have tracked it down to 3 contributing factors:
1- I wanted to be a filmmaker
2- I just started working for my Dad and for some reason just kept on going
3- Maturity

I am not going to delve into those details.

So I graduated High School in 2000. 10 years later, the Space/Time Continuum brings me another chance to become a US Navy Sailor. And I am taking it.

In 2007/2008, my wife and I discussed joining the Navy. I was a few days away from going to the MEPS, or Military Entrance Processing Station. Over the next few days leading up to that date, I could sense that my wife was extremely depressed. I knew she wasn't fully on-board with the Military idea. We were in the living room of our house and she was on one of our two couches and I was on the other. I got up, went over and sat next to her and asked her how she was feeling. I asked if she was 100% with the Navy. She was not. I told her: "If you don't want me to join, you have to tell me now, because if you don't you will not get another chance. If you're not wanting to do this I won't do it....". She was rightfully afraid. She would be eventually moving thousands of miles away from everything and everyone she knew to be confronted with being absolutely alone for 6 months while I was on a deployment. You see she isn't the type of person to pursue friendships with strange people, and for sure not Military wives. She thinks there is this stereotype that they are a bunch of athletic preppy soccer moms. I think she's crazy in that respect, but none-the-less I know my wife and she is a major introvert. So, with that in mind I knew if she wasn't going to make it and neither would "Us". My marriage meant more than a Military career. What is a career if I'm miserable because a rocky or broken marriage? I didn't want the memories of a Military career to be plagued with a divorce. After I sternly pushed her into telling me the truth about how she really felt, she told me she didn't want me to go. That was it. She felt guilty for taking away the dream, but I didn't want it to be a nightmare.

Fast-forward two years and now it's December 2009. I had recently worked as a Sewer Maintenance Tech. However, that job did not last. It also was a job that I would be stuck in one position for 25-30 years with out promotion. I wanted to move up the ranks. But not without a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering. Well, instead I started to go to College for Information Technology. Halfway though I lose the Sewer job, which like clock work I was done with my shift at 15:30 everyday M-F. Immediately I was hired by my apartment complex as a Maintenance Tech, and still going to College, which I made clear in my interview. My boss said I could be off at 5:30 on my school nights to get to class by 6. That lasted but a couple days. Pretty soon I was late for class and getting behind due to work. I worked my ass off to pass my classes and finish the semester. Again, I am stuck in a dead-end job. A job I can progress up one rung of the ladder to Maintenance Supervisor. In-order to go up higher I would have to step down to Leasing Agent then back up to Asst. Manager then to Business Manager and up to Corporate. Not me at all. I am blue collar. Unless it involves computers, count me out. Technology is the only career I would consider in a white collar environment. At this point, my wife is feeling awfully antsy as she wants to restart down her college path towards a Doctorate of English Literature as she wants to be a professor. We moved up to the Twin Cities to get away from small town life and all that small town life involves. But we both still felt trapped in jobs that were fruitless towards our career goals. We both know we are capable of more. She wants to be a Professor and also has serious aspirations towards being a a published author. I want to pursue my IT major or an Engineering Major someday and this current Maintenance job will not allow for that. So with all that brewing in our hearts, I started to talk Military again. I explained that it would be a good opportunity for us both. She could start on her Doctorate and have plenty of time to dedicate to that while I was away. I would be able to use my Plumbing skills in the military to give me leverage into moving up Rates in the Navy and come out with some great experience or continue to be a career Sailor. At first things were touchy, she still had nerves of loneliness. She did not want to be away that long alone. One night I could sense that familiar old vibe from her. She was chatting with her close friend who lives a few hours away and is miserable there, college pressure and drama has brought her to the point where I knew she was ready for a way out. So I whispered to my wife "You should see if she wants to go with.". She stopped and thought for a moment, and then typed "How would you feel about moving to Washington?" Immediately she typed back: "When do we leave.". Now I thought she was being silly, but she was serious. This set the stage for my Navy career to move forward. Sorry this is so long, but I you need the back story.
My next step was to set up an appointment with a recruiter. I met with him on a Monday evening after New Years. 2010. Ok, so the meeting faced with some bad news. You see I mentioned earlier that I had a passion for filmmaking. Well, after High School I tried to start a video production business only for it to flop and cost me some serious credit card debt. To make a long long story a little shorter we had to file bankruptcy to clear that up as we were seriously behind and too far upside down to catch up. The recruiter said we had to get the court stuff out of the way before enlistment can proceed. Well, I started researching to make sure that Bankruptcy wouldn't keep me out of the Navy, as I didn't want to chase a pipe dream. I ran in to conflicting statements from it being a total dis qualifier to it not affecting it at all. So I just had to get it over with and see what happened. That was in the first week of March, 2010. Fast-forward to June 3rd, 2010 and now its our meeting with the Trustee. Court is over. My wife and I were going to go and get some coffee, on our way I wanted to stop by the recruiting station to get an appointment set up. It is Friday and he said to come in Monday after work. FF to Monday after work. The usual questions: "Have you ever been in trouble with the law? Have you ever done drugs?" So I get through all the filter questions. And now he hands me the application and the financial statement and tells me to fill this out at home and come back tomorrow also I would need to swing down to the Social Security Office and get a new SS Card as mine is bleached white from being washed and it's not suitable. This is where my day from hell started. I told my boss I was going to run an errand during my lunch, so my wife and I get in the car and begin the trek to downtown Minneapolis. Traffic was mild. We get to the road that the SS office is supposedly on and it's closed due to construction. We spent the next 20 minutes just trying to go around the block. People walking all over, cars in endless lines flowing down the street we are trying to get back on to. Finally we get out in to the lane and get a parking spot a block from the office. We make to the office and to our "Satisfaction" the office is packed with literally a hundred people, screaming kids and the smell of musty puke. We must have had the most disgusted look on our faces walking in to that Godforsaken hellhole. I walked over to this computer with a touchscreen and selected the "Apply for new SS Card" button. It popped out a ticket and told me to fill out and application while I waited. I got number 167. We surprisingly found a pair of seats and sat. I stared at the application, then around at the sea of depressed people and then decided to get out my phone and search for an out-of-town office, because at that point I would have rather drove in peace a long distance and been processed faster than rotted there. After about 5 minutes of searching the screaming kids and warm stale puke air got to be too much. I got up and went over to the security guard and asked if there was an office in Northfield. He said that I would have to go to St. Cloud or Rochester but that if I lived in the 7 county metro I had to come here. ONE OFFICE FOR OVER A MILLION PEOPLE?! That is...not cool. So we left. That was it, I was already over on my lunch and I had to get back to work. It appeared I wasn't getting a new SS card anytime soon. So, on our way back to the car and some ranting I called my recruiter. "Hey, yeah, it's me. Ummmm, about that new SS card. Won't happen, I would have to take off a whole day just to get one, and the way that place is.....", "Well, don't worry about it, I can do it for you." He nonchalantly said. I thought "I wish you would have told me that, YESTERDAY." Ok cool, that's taken care of. So, I called my boss and told him we were on our way back but that I was going to grab some fast food. We get within a few blocks of the fast food place and run out of gas. Yes, we did, right in the middle of a three lane wide main thoroughfare packed to the hilt with traffic. I told my wife slide over and steer while I push the car out of the death trap. I looked around at the two gas stations across the street to decide if they would have a little gas tank and then see a NAPA and started walkin. So, need-less-to-say I got the gas and back going, got our food blah blah blah. That evening, I go to the meeting with the recruiter and he starts to enter my application info in to the computer and the my financial statement. He gives me a surprise wee wee test and I pass of course. Then, the other recruiter asks if I can still go to MEPS tomorrow. I said yes. After sitting for a while longer I started to get antsy and needed some tea. So I leave while my Recruiter enters info. I come back and the Chief is there. He asks, "So do you have your Bankruptcy info?" I give him what I have. "Well, where is your discharge certificate?" I was like, "We haven't been discharged yet, but we have all our court taken care of." Well, he told me that I have to be discharged. No MEPS..... Ok, so to all you people wanting to join the Navy and have a Bankruptcy (BR) looming over your heads. You can file, but, make sure you get your discharge before you go to a recruiter. Chief reassured me that everything else is good, the hard part was over, but I have wait my 2 months before we can proceed. So, that brings us to the present. Here I sit waiting for my BR discharge. Chapter 7 is 60 days after your meeting with the Trustee. The reason you cannot enlist is because the Navy wants you to be 100% done with the BR just in case during that 60 days a creditor doesn't contest a debt. If that were to happen, hypothetically if you went to MEPS and enlisted and then got a job that required you to ship off for Boot Camp before your discharge and you shipped and then had to reappear in court for that contested debt, you would more-than-likely be dishonorably discharged from the Navy and well that's just not good. I wait. Gives me more time to study for my ASVAB. Next post will be after MEPS in August, 2010.