Sand and Tsunamis
Travels between Saudi Arabia and Japan
About Us (3)
Dave in Japan (19)
Futureland (Japan) (8)
News and Other Scary Stuff (19)
Other Travels... (18)
Picture Postings (21)
Rants and Ramblings (15)
The Magical Kingdom (35)
* a QUIET house
* My personal ramblings on this new generation of sailors
* Update and Pictures
* Surf's up...but I'm not.
* After School Sumo
* Bon Odori Festival
* It Came, It Blew, It Went Away...All Clear, All is Shipshape
* She's BAAACK!!
* Welcome Thomas Mitchell
* Tourism Visas to be Issued in Saudi Arabia
* Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On!
* This Just In...
* This Just In...Women Cause 50% of Traffic Accidents in KSA
* High and Dry
* Guam Pictures
* I become a Pod Person
* Still in Hawaii
September 24, 2005
My personal ramblings on this new generation of sailors
In a nutshell, it's pretty good compared to my brothers and sisters in harm's way in the desert. When we're at sea, as an officer, I get my laundry picked up & delivered twice a week, I eat in one of two wardrooms with chairs, not benches, ice cream daily, cappucino/cocoa dispensing machines, etc. The wardrooms end up being a social scene where we can catch up on the ship/airwing news and gossip with our fellow officers. When we're in port, I still get laundry picked up twice a week but mealtimes are less social than at sea. We're also considerably busier than when we're at sea. Hence, I often hear other sailors and officers say that they'd rather be at sea.
We really do get more downtime, even if we're far from loved ones and home. Think about it: even when we're in our homeport, we aren't really "home"--we're in Japan and as far away from America as we couild be. We're anywhere from 12-15 hours ahead of "home" if you're in the continental U.S. It's hard to do business sometimes, particularly when trying to get technical support from a particular company in the States.
It's no surprise that so many of our younger sailors don't often go offbase. They are the generation of XBox, PS2, cellphones with cameras & email, the post-modern generation. There's a building called the Fleet Recreation Center, just a few minutes walk from the ship. On any given day, take a stroll through the 3rd deck (floor) and you'll see many sailors sitting there with their laptops/IPODS/MP3s/DVDs, etc. Some may even be linked up to a wireless internet where they are playing each other on some web-based game. What other choice do they have when they have a midnight curfew, Cinderella, white liberty card in their possession? Of course, the white liberty card is only temporary. The great majority of our sailors have the much coveted, blue liberty card, authorizing overnight liberty. Of course, you'll still find many of our young sailors, men and women, out on the Honch, the 2-3 blocks of bars/restaurants/shops just outside the base. The drinks are cheap and strong, the music loud, the crowd rowdy... until the shore patrol comes by. I've only been there a couple of times in the evening with fellow officers from the ship. The sailors still recognized us out of uniform which was a bit disconcerting somet imes because if a sailor doesn't like an officer and he's drunk, there's no telling what will come out of his mouth. It was still interesting seeing how some spent R&R time.
These sailors both amaze me and impress me on a daily basis onboard ship. They operate heavy machinery, highly technical radio and computer equipment, you name it. I walked off the officers brow the other day and saw some of the deck department sailors painting the side of the ship, hanging off the side. The previous week, they were hanging off the side, cleaning the side with soapy water. When we're at sea, those same sailors handle the lines that go between ships during underway replenishments, the RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) when we have a man overboard, the huge anchor chains when we pull into any port, the big 50 cal That's only the sailor in the deck department, considered one of the smaller departments on the ship! The ship is loud and noisy and dangerous from top to bottom, both underway and in port. Right now, it's much quieter than at sea but that's because we're missing the airwing. No flight operations are going on which means my stateroom on the O3 level, directly below the flight deck, is quiet. There are also 2,000 less people on board until we go underway again.
Okay, with the airwing onboard, we have about 5,000 folks, including a small amount of civilian contractors who go underway with us. They work in the very high tech areas of the airplane industry. The good majority of the 5,000 are between 18-21 years old and are male. (We have about 300 females onboard between ship's company and airwing.) Most of the medical department is between 20-28 years old. The khakis (chiefs and officers) are all over 30, except of our general medical officer (she's in her late 20s). There is a considerable generation gap between me and most of my sailors. Sometimes they forget because I'm petite and I look younger than my 35 years on most days. Once they learn (usually through conversation or the grapevine) that I'm prior enlisted and have been in the Navy since before they were in gradeschool, it's a bit easier to talk with them. I don't want them to fear me, I want them to respect me. However, there are others on the ship who are a bit more Macchiavellian than I.
My youngest sailor is barely 18 and is so tall that watching him walk down the passageway is painful. He has to walk with his neck tilted to one side or else he's liable to smack it on any of the many objects hanging overhead (pipes, mostly). He is also intelligent, insightful, respectful and frustrated, as many youngsters are at his age. The decisions that his leadership make sometimes frustrate this generation of sailors--this is the generation of "why? why me? what for?" whereas my generation (14-15 years ago) generally did what we were ordered to do and tried to make sense of it later. We've empowered our subordinates to think for themselves and yet, we still want to have control over their actions, their decision-making capabilities.
I've learned not to micromanage and think I do a fair if not good job at it, now. A year ago, I was a nervous new division officer still trying to figure out who to trust. I don't have the magic formula downpat but I've decided that if I give someone an order or a request or a task, I'll also give that person the leeway to figure out a solution or answer within a reasonable amount of time. There's another officer in my division who musters the duty section 3 times during the course of a duty day. This officer doesn't trust many people and I've felt that me-against-the-world feeling more often than not from her. Now she adores certain sailors and not others but will tell anyone willing to listen (not many) that she's there for the sailors. I think we all are there for the sailors. I pray that she's simply misunderstood by others but there are many moments where I think she simply doesn't want to understand others for reasons I can't see clearly.
I've found that when it comes to my own duty section, with it's current makeup, they don't need that kind of scrutiny. I muster them in the morning and look in on them throughout the day. They know I'm generally in 1 of very few places throughout the day and that if they need me, I'll be there. They also know that I'll back them up when there's a tough decision, which is rare. These sailors range in age from 20-28, all are high school graduates. 2 are married, the other 2 are single. I'm blessed because they have never caused me any undue stress. It's a combination of luck of the draw, good planning and trust. I trust them to make the best decisions at all times. Perhaps it's because for the most part, we all went through the same Hospital Corpsman "A" School in Great Lakes (okay, mine was 14 years ago). Of course, if one gets in a bind, we're there to help pull him/her out if possible.
Okay, enough rambling... it's time to get a move on the weekend!
Posted by Melody on September 24, 2005 08:49 AM
Category: Rants and Ramblings
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