My dad re-enlisted in the US Navy when I was about 6 or so. At the time, I thought it was the coolest thing, ever. He would put on his uniform and come back from far-away places....I wanted to be like my dad!
Then I found out my grandpa had been at someplace called Pearl Harbor. There was a movie about it called "Tora Tora Tora!" I wanted to join the navy.
And so, from age six to eighteen I waited. Trouble was, I had ADHD and was taking medication for it. I was an okay student, but the navy wanted me to be off the medication to join. I started trying to be off the medication about December of my Senior Year in preparation to ship out in June. I almost didn't graduate, I had such a hard time with school off the meds. But I persevered and made it somehow.
When I took my tests for my military aptitude, they offered me Officer Candidate School or Reserve Officer Training Corps. If that meant I had to go to more school, I wasn't interested. I always regretted not going, but now, as I think about it, for all the troubles I had with ADHD, I might not have completed it. I wanted to be a fighter pilot. I signed up for submarines. Nuclear Power. The top 1% of the US Navy, academically. The test to see if I even could go to the school is still, even with a Master's Degree later, the hardest test I've ever taken. I scored a perfect score on the test, and then took it again because they lost my score and scored an almost-perfect score.
The recruiters told me to just lie and say that I was off the medication before shipping out, and when it came time to review my paperwork to ship out, they asked me if I was on any medications - my instructions at this point were to lie - and this thought came to me that I'm not a liar, and I swear it wasn't me who then found my mouth saying that I was on medication. I later came to find out that was my Heavenly Father intervening in my life for something I would find out about later - which if I shipped out in June, wouldn't have happened - my joining the LDS church. That's another story for another day, however.
I was postponed until December of 1993, and I chose to ship out 4 days before Christmas. Boot camp? Really wasn't that bad. Nuclear Power School in a few months after this was going to make me wish I was back in Boot Camp. But boot camp? Wasn't that bad.
I kind of psyched myself up for it all my life, and was excited to be doing what I was doing. My dad watched me get sworn in and saw me off when I shipped out. We pulled into the boot camp at O-Dark-Thirty. All I remember is some fat senior chief yelling at us while we sat there, tired and a bit nervous. At the time, women were just beginning to be integrated into naval service, Bill Clinton wasn't the president yet, and I had to affirm I wasn't a homosexual and had never done anything homosexual on my paperwork to enlist. Women would begin to join our ranks in other jobs during my enlistment - and here I was at the one recruit training center that was co-ed. Oh, the women had their own battalions (I'm sure that in my lifetime everything will be coed including showers in the military) but they were there. It seemed like it was a big distraction for a lot of the guys. Me? I wasn't interested in girls, I wanted to be in the navy and really didn't want to socialize. That and I had a girlfriend back home by this time.
She hooked me up, her name was Sara Lynn Robertson. She introduced me to the LDS church, and we are still friends today. She hooked me up by seeing to it that I was the first guy to get a letter in boot camp, and she always sprayed her letters with perfume, much to the annoyance of the other recruits.
One of the Hospital Corpsmen told us that Orlando wasn't boot camp. He said it wasn't even reality. I suppose in some ways it wasn't. The base closed a short time after I graduated, it was winding down, my senior chief company commander was retiring and was a weed-smoking vietnam veteran - it was pretty relaxed most of the time....for basic. You'd see guys walking along humming cadence, the days weren't too terrible as it was wintertime in florida....I had grown my hair out figuring why get a haircut when the navy was going to cut it all off when I enlisted.
I'm afraid for all my love for the navy, I wasn't the best recruit. I do remember on one inspection - supposed to be our final inspection that we had to pass perfectly, I failed the inspection because I forgot to clip my sea bag. I realized this after the inspection was started and as I stood at attention I prayed like crazy that I wouldn't get in trouble for my sea bag or it wouldn't be noticed. When I got back...it was clipped. This was a miracle for me.
We spent most of our time marching. I got appointed a section leader and got a second class petty-officer's crow on my blue dungarees. I found that for all my integrity and honesty, the rest of the navy wasn't into it...especially my section. I was pretty disappointed in the military then, by this point. But that, and I'm short (5'6.75") and I got a loud mouth, so I was always at the rear calling cadence:
Form a column of watch sections!
Port watch forward!
Starboard watch, stand fast!
Starboard watch, column half right, MARCH!
Starboard watch, column half left, MARCH!
Port watch, MARCH!
At one point they put me in charge of the company. Problem was....I was small and was always in the back. I had no idea where we were going. I just followed the guys in front of me, and now....I had to get us to chow. I had no idea where we were going, I had a hundred and sixty men marching under my orders and I couldn't stop and look at a map, and even asking for directions would be bad at this point. Until someone saw the galley between two buildings across a grassy pass and I called "COLUMN RIGHT MARCH!" and 160 men changed direction and we marched across the grass directly to the galley. That's like rototilling the grass with that many men in boondockers marching across it and boy did I catch hell for that. I was relieved of being in charge and went back to being in the back and yelling cadence.
At any rate, the option came up to be on the Recruit Rifle Drill Team.
I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, I wasn't the best at this either - my ADHD was just kicking my butt all over the place. Later when I became a military police officer, I found I had an aptitude for zeroing in and paying attention and not missing anything, getting my head and butt wired together and kicking some butt - but in boot camp? Boy.....
One day as we marched, everybody else was twirling their rifles (You shoot rifles, not twirl them, but I hadn't learned that yet, I just thought the drill team was fun to be on) and I was tapping mine on the ground. They were tapping theirs on the ground, and I was twirling mine.
Our drill instructor, Machinists Mate First Class Pierre Agnew from Alabama ( a black guy) who was extremely proud of being from Alabama - and liked to get on us all about where we were from and would call you by where you were from (YOURE FROM NEW YORK ARENT YOU? THATS YOUR NEW NAME THERE NEW YORK!!!) got on me:
DI: MILLICAN WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM!!!
ME: JUST HAVING A BAD DAY SIR!
DI: WHERE ARE YOU FROM MILLICAN! YOU'RE FROM SOMEPLACE STUPID AREN'T YOU! THAT'S WHAT YOUR PROBLEM IS!!!
ME: HELL NO, SIR! I'M FROM ALABAMA!
(at this point the formation fell apart laughing)
DI:AINT NO WAY IN HELL YOU'RE FROM ALABAMA!
ME: NO SIR! I'M FROM OREGON!
DI: YOU'RE FROM NEW YORK!!! DROP MILLICAN! JUST DROP! ALL OF YOU DROP!
....it was worth it.
We got put in parades, went to Disneyworld, marched in I don't know how many events...got taken to dinner by the Mayor of Orlando....everybody wanted their picture taken with us.....I got to be a mini-celebrity for a time I guess....
I do remember one morning, waiting to form up for a parade, the top rack of my rack was empty so I climbed up and caught a nap waiting for us to form up. Shoulda slept on the floor. But the top rack was empty when suddenly "ATTENTION ON DECK!" Surprise inspection at 0500. As I stood there, I remembered the pillow I was napping on didn't get put back and it was going to be obvious I had slept in the top rack - which was against the rules - (It's only illegal if you get caught). As the drill instructors walked through, the eyes of the guy across from me got as wide as dinner plates as they walked near my rack - waiting for them to notice the pillow adrift on the top rack - and....they walked right by it and missed it. That was miracle number two.
I never did get in trouble enough to end up getting cycled, though I do remember being made to say "same length, same width" in front of my shirts as I flipped them back and forth on 1-5 day for not making them to inspection standards folded in my locker. The gas chamber wasn't that bad, cleared my sinuses out, and I enjoyed learning firefighting - but because I was on the recruit drill team I didn't have to spend a ton of time marching with the company, more time in the gas chamber or firefighting - I was all gussied up and marching about.
The food wasn't even that bad. I was just happy to eat! The ham was good, and so was the bread.
SHIPMATES! YOU HAVE FIFTEEN MINUTES AND FIFTEEN MINUTES ONLY TO ENJOY YOUR FINE FINE NAVY CHOW!!!
At any rate, I graduated about March or April of 1994 from Company C016 of Battalion 8 - whose symbol was the 8 ball. I don't really remember anyone from basic, never really kept in touch with anybody.