Sea Story 7

 

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Italian protesters outside the Naval Base Sigonella gate. Aerial view broadcasted on the guard tower’s TV.

Every year for the reserves, naval personnel has to go on what is known as an AT, or annual training. These trips can last for as little as two weeks to almost a full year. Either way, it’s good work and it keeps service members updated on their roles in the military.

I’m part of a reserve unit known as Naval Support Activity Naples, Detachment 106 Chicago. As an Information Systems Technician, my main role over at NSA Naples is to manage network systems and to operate general computer equipment wherever necessary. NSA Naples is not based in Florida, but it is based in Naples, Italy. If you can guess, every year I get to go to Italy to perform my AT. The work is a lot of fun and I get a lot of leave time to explore the city and Italy as a whole. More on that later. This last summer was my first year at Naples, so it was a unique experience to say the least.

The first day I arrived there, I reported to N6, also known as Information Systems. The shop was 100% government contractors, and all of them were pretty damn chill. The work was cake as well; I would go and DRMO equipment (basically take them apart and recycle them) and log them in a excel spreadsheet. It’s a bit below my ability level, but I’m not complaining. I’m getting paid for this.

A few days go by of doing that, and we are notified that in a few weeks, the base will be inspected by other government agencies to look for network vulnerabilities. In preparation for this inspection, the government contractors and I would do an in-house inspection to make sure that we don’t fail the big inspection. Did I mention that we’re doing an inspection?

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Sea Story 6

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Yeah, we completed our trip to Denny’s.

 

Graduated from boot camp, enlisted naval personnel and went to what is known as “A” School. This is a technical school that sailors attend to learn about their
jobs or “rates” in the Navy. For me, I went in as an Information Systems Technician, which deals with military networking, communication, and general IT and
computer support. It’s a broad discipline containing various aspects of networking and computer skills.

IT “A” school is located down at sunny Pensacola, FL. right at the east end of the southern bible belt and just miles from the border of Alabama, making it a very
unique location for training and travel. There’s two sides to the base:

NAS Pensacola = Naval Air Station Pensacola. This base is absolutely beautiful. It’s quite a large base, and it is where all of the aircrew and pilots go to
train. The base is well maintained, full of amenities, full of beautiful architecture and nature, and the noble might of the US Navy shines brightly here.
It’s definitely the place to be.

Corry Station = Also known as the Center for Information Dominance, this base looks more like a prison than a place of learning. The compounds (also known as
SCIFs- Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities) are gated and barb-wired. The base is dated and construction seems to always be taking place. It’s sh*t.

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Sea Stories III: Angry Filipinos

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(By the way, I’m going to begin to use stock photos from now on. What, you think you can take photos in basic training? By the way, these girls look about excited as I was. Even I’m impressed with their enthusiasm.)

The Petty Officer rounds us up, not unlike cattle. Wide-eyed, matching the looks of the individuals around me, we all sternly follow this strangely dressed man down by the departure gates of O’Hare airport. I almost forgot my bag in the USO office; it’s a bit redundant to say, but that would have sucked big time.

It was strange. O’Hare was an airport that I was so comfortable with. From the departure gates, I could see all of the terminals and check-in booths and rent-a-car stations that I remembered from when I was younger and I would be going on family vacations to wherever around the country or world. I felt pretty old now, and I just turned 18.

We were instructed to sit down on the floor of the terminal and to “shut the f*ck up”. I say that in quotes as I do not use sentence enhancers lightly. The guys in charge of us really did have mouths like sailors, and that scared a few of us. I thought it was hilarious.

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Sea Stories II – Paperwork for Days

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My fellow shipmates and I departed from the MEPS, or military entrance processing station feeling quite valiant, dare I say honorable. The only thing we truly did that day was sign some paperwork, then it was off to the buses for basic training.

Let me rephrase that: the only thing we did that day was sign paperwork. As in, from 0600 to 1500 we did nothing but sign paperwork. Who knew that the MEPS was so similar to the DMV.

Despite all the metaphorical papercuts, our family and friends were waiting outside the buses, cheering us on. I felt a sense of pride that I was becoming something more than myself, although that pride was not even close to being earned yet. My mom was recording the entire walk from the building to the bus on her iPad. Filipinos like to record everything.

And then I dropped my paperwork all over the pavement. I looked like a complete fool in front of everyone’s families, but I quickly scooped it up, and acted as if nothing happened.

I played myself.

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Sea Stories I – Mail Call turns to Bro’s Scrawls

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(2130) SR Cuartero has assumed the watch, GRLKS. Division disseminating letters for mail call. We are moored port side, and currently receiving miscellaneous services from the pier. No new government defacement in sight.

“CUARTERO!” My Recruit Division Commander screamed out. My eyes turned into silver dollars as I ran as fast as I could to the center of the room. I took the letter from Senior Chief’s hand, returning to my spot by my bunk. My fellow shipmates were called to the center of the compartment just the same as I. The looks on their faces mimicked my own; wide eyed, and their pupils were silver dollars.

Senior Chief gave a perimeter sweep with his eyes, commanding the 73 recruits to do jumping jacks when he said jump, perform pushups when he said push, and shoot when he said shoot. And he didn’t even say anything yet.

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