Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. No, Thank You

 

It wasn’t for you. When I called the recruiter our country was the farthest thing from my mind. I was focused on a hot little brunette I aimed to marry. My marketable skills were worth about five dollars an hour to even the most generous of employers, and I knew that was no way to make a life for my future bride. I met with a man in an impeccably white uniform for the most selfish of reasons. When I went to the entrance processing station it was just to see what the Navy had to offer me. I told myself there was no way I was joining that day, and if I did it would not be for more than two years, and I’d never, under any circumstances, go into submarines. I left that afternoon signed up for 8 years in the Strategic Weapons Systems Electronics program. I was going to be a Missile Technician. On submarines. 

As the day approached for my departure in May of 1992 I balked. I struggled mightily with the decision I had made to give myself to service. I almost didn’t leave. At the last moment I drove my dad’s old ’72 Chevy truck the 120 miles needed to say goodbye to my love and abandoned myself to whatever lay before me. I flew to Illinois and endured the best and worst two months of my life. A grizzled old signalman called me (repeatedly) things I cannot repeat here. A little harpy of a yeoman helped me “celebrate” my birthday with sweat, tears (maybe a little vomit), and an amount physical conditioning that should have seen her court martialed. It took every last ounce of will I had to not choke the life out of her as I lay in a pool of my own fluids when she patted me on the head and chirped, “Happy birthday, Patrick.” But, Petty Officers Jones and Fowler saw something in me I did not know was there. They broke me down and reconstructed me. They took a chubby, sarcastic little boy and turned him into a man they could call shipmate. On July 4th they beamed as our company marched in our boot camp graduation. They did a work indescribable and thankless. They made sailors, sent us to the fleet, then did it again with the next company of little boys who needed to become men.

For the next sixteen months I went to schools. I learned about submarines. I learned about electronics. I learned about missiles. I arrived onboard USS Nevada at the end of 1993 full of myself. It was time to be remade again. I learned immediately how much I didn’t know. I was a NUB (non-useful body) and a FLOB (freeloading oxygen breather.) I was not yet a submariner. I had to prove myself to these men whose lives they would willingly place in my hands. They were merciless because they had to be. They would not allow to remain any fault of knowledge or skill that might hamper my ability to what was required when needed. Through many sleepless nights, many disheartening examinations, and even more tears, I finally was proven worthy. My dolphins were pinned on my chest, held fast not just by the frogs on the back, but by the trust and respect of my fellow submariners who had declared me to be one of their own. 

For twelve more years I served. On USS Alaska and at the weapons facility I did my duty, stood my watches, cleaned bilges, and literally put out a fire or two. I kept myself mentally ready and drilled to do the unimaginable on behalf of the nation. Should it have been required, I would have unleashed “the power of God from the hands of man” against our enemies. Had you required it of me I would have done this. I would have done it knowing the boat would soon be sunk (you can’t hide a submarine that just launched a bunch of missiles.) I would have willingly consigned myself to Davy Jones’ locker knowing that I had done my part to protect the nation, or failing that, having sent a righteous vengeance raining unimaginable hell from the skies onto the heads of our enemies and making them pay with their lives for the lives they would have taken to incur this wrath. 

I recount this to say that I was never a man capable of such patriotism and love. At 19 I was a selfish little brat concerned only with himself and his own lusts. In attempting to satiate them I stumbled haphazardly into the service. Unworthy as I was the nation accepted me. The Navy changed me. Those hard, hard company commanders started the process. My shipmates continued the work. You, my fellow citizens, by allowing this chubby, sarcastic little boy to serve you, completed the monumental task of making me a man and a patriot. I thank all my fellow veterans who served me as a citizen, and I thank them as brothers and sisters who accepted me into their exalted company. Mostly, I thank you all for allowing me the honor of serving you. 

There are 43 comments.

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  1. Seawriter Member

    Meh. You are going to have to accept our thanks and like it.

    Whatever you were and whatever your reasons for joining, you served our country. Whether you intended to or not, you formed part of that thin shield between our enemies and this country. That your service benefited you as well as our country is a feature built into the system.

    Seawriter

    • #1
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:03 AM PST
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  2. Brian McMenomy Inactive

    This may be the classiest thing I’ve read here. Please accept our thanks for your service; you’re the one that would have gone down with the ship so that I would live. Words aren’t enough, but thanks.

    • #2
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:05 AM PST
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  3. Brian McMenomy Inactive

    P.S. We really should get together at some point, since I’m just on the other side of the Sound.

    • #3
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:06 AM PST
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  4. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Brian McMenomy:P.S. We really should get together at some point, since I’m just on the other side of the Sound.

    Indeed.

    • #4
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:06 AM PST
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  5. RightAngles Member

    Bravo! I loved this! My dad was about your age when he enlisted for WWII. He was also quite a man before the age of 20.

    • #5
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:08 AM PST
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  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m amazed that you actually served in the role you signed up for. They must have been really desperate then.

    Thanks.

    • #6
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:16 AM PST
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  7. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Well done, sir. And thanks for your service. From the son of a submariner.

    • #7
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:22 AM PST
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  8. Arahant Member

    Happy veterans’ day, Prawn and all the other vets. We do appreciate you, no matter your reasons for serving, so long as you did.

    • #8
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:23 AM PST
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  9. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Damn, you made me misty-eyed.

    • #9
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:26 AM PST
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  10. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    As my favorite priest friend says, when someone thanks you for what they see in you, accept it and thank God. So, thanks, KP!

    • #10
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:27 AM PST
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  11. Patrick McClure, Coffee Achiev… Coolidge

    KP- First, not surprised your first name is Patrick. All the best men have it. Maybe that’s on your profile, but I haven’t looked at it. Second, is the hot little brunette now Mrs KP? Finally, despite what you may think, we know it was more than lust and selfishness that drove you into that recruiting office. But we’ll pretend not to notice that patriotism and love of country, if that’s what you ask of us. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to gain by your service. Nothing at all.

    • #11
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:28 AM PST
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  12. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Patrickb63: First, not surprised your first name is Patrick.

    Last, actually. The hot little brunette is living a great life with one of my former shipmates. Not everything works out as one intends, but Mrs. KP is quite pleased at the turn of events.

    • #12
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:34 AM PST
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  13. Bill Nelson Member

    The King Prawn:

    Patrickb63: First, not surprised your first name is Patrick.

    Last, actually. The hot little brunette is living a great life with one of my former shipmates. Not everything works out as one intends, but Mrs. KP is quite pleased at the turn of events.

    HA! That’s what I was wondering! Seems those early romances don’t have a lot of lasting value, particularly when one person is going to change fairly dramatically.

    And thank you for your service. Having toured the WWII sub at Pearl Harbor, I have a profound respect for anyone who accepts that duty.

    • #13
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:41 AM PST
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  14. Pencilvania Inactive

    What a humble story, with a great ending! KP, thanks for your service!

    • #14
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:44 AM PST
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  15. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher

    Great story, KP. Thanks for all your years of service to our country.

    • #15
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:45 AM PST
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  16. Chuck Enfield Coolidge

    I feel exactly the same way about my Army service. My motivations for enlisting were different from yours, but there was no patriotic motivation. My experience is that few people are driven to enlist in peacetime out of patriotism. That’s not to say that few are patriots, I only mean that it’s not their primary motivation.

    My standard response when somebody thanks me for my service is to thank them for the opportunity to serve. Given my personality, many people think I’m being snarky, but the country helped me far more than I helped the country.

    • #16
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:48 AM PST
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  17. Sleepywhiner Inactive

    Nicely written, KP.

    I’m not sure if we ever had to release our payload, we’d have wanted to return to the world that awaited.

    • #17
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:55 AM PST
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  18. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Sleepywhiner:Nicely written, KP.

    I’m not sure if we ever had to release our payload, we’d have wanted to return to the world that awaited.

    It would have been with sorrow an in righteousness that it would have been done.

    • #18
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:59 AM PST
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  19. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Seawriter:Meh. You are going to have to accept our thanks and like it.

    Whatever you were and whatever your reasons for joining, you served our country. Whether you intended to or not, you formed part of that thin shield between our enemies and this country. That your service benefited you as well as our country is a feature built into the system.

    This is all true, but that was nonetheless a fantastic post.

    Thank you.

    And no, self interest doesn’t get you out of being thanked for the post, either.

    • #19
    • November 11, 2016, at 10:22 AM PST
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  20. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    skipsul:Damn, you made me misty-eyed.

    God Bless.

    • #20
    • November 11, 2016, at 10:35 AM PST
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  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You’ll get thanked and you’ll like it.

    As you were.

    • #21
    • November 11, 2016, at 10:41 AM PST
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  22. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thank you, and thank G-d for men like you.

    • #22
    • November 11, 2016, at 10:58 AM PST
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  23. michael johnson Inactive

    Great post and very well written and thank you for your service. I was in the army but later went to sea as a marine engineer. You are a better man than I; I don’t think I could hack months underwater; on the surface is hard enough. Best regards.

    • #23
    • November 11, 2016, at 11:17 AM PST
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  24. Pilli Inactive

    This is for you KP:

    6ca7e919f696dcab969671e67f735a0f

    Thank you and tanks to all who have served; whether they wanted to or not.

    • #24
    • November 11, 2016, at 11:29 AM PST
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  25. Acook Member

    As the daughter of a career Air Force officer, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service. My dad served in the big one, WWII. I’m hoping now we have a commander in chief that the military can more easily respect and look up to.

    • #25
    • November 11, 2016, at 12:15 PM PST
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  26. Steve C. Member

    We made our choices for our own reasons. It doesn’t mean you haven’t earned the recognition of your contribution. Regardless of how you personally view it. I do share some of your feelings. My stock answer, “It was an honor.”

    • #26
    • November 11, 2016, at 12:33 PM PST
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  27. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Wow! It’s humbling just to read it. Uh, what happened to the hot little brunette?

    • #27
    • November 11, 2016, at 1:46 PM PST
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  28. AUMom Member
    AUMom Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KP, you did good. That may not have been your intention but you did it nonetheless. The Navy could not have manufactured gold had the ore not already been present. Salute, sir.

    • #28
    • November 11, 2016, at 1:56 PM PST
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  29. Trinity Waters Inactive

    On the inside, I’ve always been a little regretful that I was drafted, but I came to respect my brothers in arms, turned into a man and served for eight years. Your wonderful tale, especially your beginning motivation, makes me feel better. Thanks, KP!

    • #29
    • November 11, 2016, at 2:00 PM PST
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  30. Sash Member

    I am so unworthy. Thank you anyway.

    • #30
    • November 11, 2016, at 2:10 PM PST
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