The Chief

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Last Friday, 13 Sept. 2013, a career long dream came true. I was pinned as a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. I had the pleasure of being pinned by my dad Chip Bryant and my grandfather Hoyt Ownby, a Korean War Arm Veteran.

The process leading up to the pinning was challenging yet extremely rewarding. Below is a copy of the CPO Creed. It’s posted several places on the web and I want to propagate it on my blog as well.

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CPO Creed

“During the course of this day you have been caused to humbly accept challenge and face adversity. This you have accomplished with rare good grace. Pointless as some of these challenges may have seemed, there were valid, time-honored reasons behind each pointed barb. It was necessary to meet these hurdles with blind faith in the fellowship of Chief Petty Officers. The goal was to instill in you that trust is inherent with the donning of the uniform of a Chief.

It was our intent to impress upon you that challenge is good; a great and necessary reality which cannot mar you – which, in fact, strengthens you. In your future as a Chief Petty Officer, you will be forced to endure adversity far beyond that imposed upon you today. You must face each challenge and adversity with the same dignity and good grace you demonstrated today. By experience, by performance, and by testing, you have been this day advanced to Chief Petty Officer.

In the United States Navy – and only in the United States Navy – the rank of E7 carries with it unique responsibilities and privileges you are now bound to observe and expected to fulfill. Your entire way of life is now changed. More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you. Not because you are a E7 but because you are now a Chief Petty Officer. You have not merely been promoted one paygrade, you have joined an exclusive fellowship and, as in all fellowships, you have a special responsibility to your comrades, even as they have a special responsibility to you.

This is why we in the United States Navy may maintain with pride our feelings of accomplishment once we have attained the position of Chief Petty Officer. Your new responsibilities and privileges do not appear in print. They have no official standing; they cannot be referred to by name, number, nor file. They have existed for over 100 years, Chiefs before you have freely accepted responsibility beyond the call of printed assignment. Their actions and their performance demanded the respect of their seniors as well as their juniors.

It is now required that you be the fountain of wisdom, the ambassador of good will, the authority in personal relations as well as in technical applications. “Ask the Chief” is a household phrase in and out of the Navy. You are now the Chief. The exalted position you have now achieved – and the word exalted is used advisedly – exists because of the attitude and performance of the Chiefs before you. It shall exist only as long as you and your fellow Chiefs maintain these standards. It was our intention that you never forget this day.

It was our intention to test you, to try you, and to accept you. Your performance has assured us that you will wear “the hat” with the same pride as your comrades in arms before you. We take a deep and sincere pleasure in clasping your hand, and accepting you as a Chief Petty officer in the United States Navy.”

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PODCASTs

Several years ago my parents bought me an iPod. Thus began my love for iTunes and the iPod/iPhone revolution. One of the very first things I found on iTunes was this section called Podcast. I remember listening to a few of them and thinking they were pretty neat.

Fast forward a few years to just a couple of years ago (it’s currently 2013) when I happened upon a little show called This Week In Google (TWiG).  I was sitting in my car and was killing time by browsing through the list of podcasts on my iPhone and for whatever reason I clicked on the TWiG podcast.  I loved it.  Since then I’ve been listening to and watching a lot of the content on the TWiT network and it’s made me want to start producing my own content.  Leo often talks about the fact that we should be producing and not just consuming content.  I want my voice to be heard.

There’s just one problem, the two areas that I know well, the Navy and law enforcement, are places I work and anything I produce could be interpreted as me making official statements for those two agencies.

The one area that I would really like to focus on is my time in the Navy Reserves.  I’ve written (here) in another post about some of my Navy adventures so it’s no secret that I’m in the Navy.  I really want to focus on making transition into the reserves as easy as possible.  The one thing I have found is that the Navy Reserves has a ton of opportunities and twice as many challenges and I want to identify each of those to make life a little easier.  I would also like to teach to an active audience.  Evaluations, orders, drills, authorized verses unauthorized absences from drill, uniforms, rate conversion and annual training are just a few areas I want to hone in on.

So with all that said, I think I am going to launch a podcast about my experiences in the Navy Reserves.  I don’t have much equipment, but I think I have just enough to get started.

I do need some suggestions on a name for my podcast though.  So, feel free to comment with your suggestion. 🙂

Stay tuned for Episode 1.

Veteran’s Day

ImageTomorrow we will celebrate Veteran’s Day.  This will be my 14th Veteran’s Day being a Military Veteran.  That said, being a military veteran may mean different things to different people.

Wikipedia says that a military veteran is someone who has served or is serving in the military, but there’s more to it than that.

Being a veteran means making the hard decision to leave what is comfortable for something that is unknown.

It means saying goodbye to those you love the most.

It means looking at your mom as she breaks down in tears as you pull away from that last hug before you board the bus heading to places unknown.

It means being given instructions and having to follow them to get you on a plane that will take you to a distant city.

It means having the will power, motivation and intestinal fortitude to stay the course and not come home.

It means being able to be yelled at and accept it.

It means adjusting to “planned failure”.

It means overcoming differences, both personal and societal.

It means accepting different cultures and learning that there is only one true color in the world, Navy Blue.

It means busting your butt to succeed and learning that the phrase “failure is not an option” doesn’t mean you just pass because they don’t want to hurt your feelings but that if you fail, you will get sent back home with your tail between your legs.

It means smelling a submarine for the very first time.

It means building friendships that will stand the test of time.

It means knowing that when you’re in need, your buddy will be there, even at 0200 in the morning, on a weekend.

It means instantly having a new found respect for your grandparents who also served.

It means looking our for your people.

It means being able to accept getting all choked up when talking about the immense sacrifices that those before us have sacrificed.

It means that I’m a Sailor and a Submariner and will be until the day I die!

“I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country’s Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.”

Stress and Moving…

Moving can be extremely stressful.  Back in 2006 when I was preparing to get out of the Navy I decided to, once again, have the Navy move me back to TN.  That experience was great.  The moving company, Allied, came in, packed everything up and shipped it to a storage facility near my hometown of Cleveland,TN.  Once I actually got to Cleveland I located a storage company to store my stuff until I found a house of my own.  I located a nice little climate controlled storage company near my parents house.  The company is Stand-Sto Storage.

All was well with the Sand-Sto.  I rented two units for almost 6 years.  I faithfully sent them $130 a month for those two units and never had a problem.  Back to that in a min…

The time came for me to move into a new house.  So I shopped around for a moving company to move my stuff from Sand-Sto to my new house.  I decided to use Posey’s Moving and Storage company in Cleveland,TN.  When I had contacted Mr. Posey to find out his rates I was told that it was $130 per hour and they would provide a truck and three men.

Moving Day

Moving day arrived and I met the crew at the storage company.  This is wear the stress began.  At $130 an hour I was watching the clock pretty close.  So when two men and a 10 year old boy showed up I was pretty upset.  I decided to just sit back and not say anything.  I left and let them do their thing.  After two hours or so I went to check on them, hoping that the 3rd man would have shown up.  I found that only about half of the contents were loaded and that the 3rd man was in fact the 10 year old boy.  $780 later, all of my stuff was in the house.  I asked the moving crew if they closed my storage unit doors when they left and they said no.  No problem, or so I thought…

That brings me to today and back around to the Sand-Sto topic.

I walked in to the office at Sand-Sto so I could get my padlocks back and go ahead and close out my account.  Much to my surprise, my locks had been thrown away and my account had been closed, not by me, but by the moving company crew.  The lady in the office was flippant about the whole thing and flippantly offered me two new locks.  When I declined to take them she really couldn’t understand why and couldn’t see why I was upset.  I expressed my concern with the fact that the moving company had closed my account without my authority and they said that they do this in 99% of the occasions.

I was then told that if I had a problem I would have to take it up with the moving company.  The blame was shifted…

Enough of the facts, now for my rant…

– I never gave the moving company the authority to handle any of my financial dealings when it came to Sand-Sto Storage Company.

– I have paid Sand-Sto nearly $6500 over the last few years only to have my last business encounter with them to be a bad one.

– When I pay $130 an hour to a moving company for three men and a truck, I expect to get three men and not two men and a boy.

– Don’t shift the blame to another company or back to the customer when the problem was caused by a poor business practice within your company.

– All of this could have been prevented if the lady in the office at Sand-Sto had been a little more pleasant and not so flippant with my problem.  It may have seemed insignificant to her, but when an unauthorized third-party starts handling my accounts it’s pretty significant to me.

Now, I will say a few good things.  Sand-Sto protected my belongings for several years.  Nothing was ever stolen and my stuff was untouched.  Posey’s did a good job with the moving even though it was a little slow since there was only two adults doing the work.  I would recommend Posey’s again but I’m not so sure about Sand-Sto, the jury is still out.

My College Experience

There has never been a time in my life when I thought that I would be content without a college degree.  From a very early age I knew that I wanted to work in some kind of state or federal law enforcement.  Those particular jobs require at least a bachelors degree.

After I graduated high school I enrolled at Cleveland State Community College (CSCC) in Cleveland, TN.  I spent two years there and successfully completed three semesters.  I did not graduate.  In the spring of 1998 I joined the Navy and was able to complete a few college level classes while I severed on the USS Louisiana, a ballistic missile submarine.  By the time I had completed my 8 years in the Navy I had amassed around 100 or so college credits.  I didn’t think much more about college for a few years.

In the fall of 2007, after working at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office for nearly a year, I was assigned to a local elementary school as their School Resource Officer.  Working with numerous highly educated teachers gave me the push that I needed to re-enroll into college once more.  So I chose to apply to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  This was a bit of an experience.  While the instruction at UTC was good, their customer service and the advisers were a little lacking.  I was not impressed.  I managed to complete several more hours there before getting tired of the 45min, one-way, drive every afternoon.  I once again quit my pursuit of a college degree.

After a year or so the degree bug bit again and I started looking for a college to go to.  I researched online schools and any other school that would allow me to earn my degree at an accelerated pace, most of which cost more than I was willing to spend.  I began hearing advertisements on a local radio station for Bryan College’s Adult Studies program and after speaking with several recent graduates of the program I decided to apply.

I submitted my application in the fall of 2010 for a January 2011 commencement date.  Before I ever received my letter of acceptance a counselor was calling me to invite me to orientation.  I expressed my concern that I hadn’t received a letter yet and I was told to not worry about it and just show up.

Since the first night of class I have had nothing but wonderful experiences with Bryan College.  The tuition is very reasonable and the work is manageable and practical for immediate implementation.

If you are even remotely considering going back to school to finish your degree I highly recommend giving Bryan College a call.

Where Were You on September 11th, 2001?

Where were you?

I was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on board the USS Louisiana, SSBN-743 Gold.  The USS Louisiana is a fleet ballistic missile submarine.

I can’t even begin to tell you what it was like to be at sea when something like this happens.  It was nearly two months before I was actually able to see images of what had happened.

Our world really did change on that day.

So, where were you?  What is your story?

Trooper Joe Snipes, Tennessee Highway Patrol

Yesterday we lost a friend and fellow officer of the law.  Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Snipes was killed in an off-duty motorcycle accident in Bradley County Tennessee.  Even though we didn’t hang out while off-duty, I considered Joe a friend.  I had several occasions to work with Joe on vehicle wrecks where I either assisted him or he was assisting me.  He always offered whatever help or advice he could and he was always very appreciative of the help he was given.  Even when frustrated he always treated me with respect.

The one thing that I will remember about Joe is that he rarely complained.  I remember pulling up to a crash on I-75 on one particular occasion.  A storm was coming in and it was bringing heavy rain with it.  As the rain began to pour down Joe just looked at me and said, oh well, this is what the State pays me to do.  He took his job serious and was always there to ensure the safety of the motoring public through enforcement.

I heard a talk-radio journalist read the headline about the accident this morning.  It went something like this, Just because your a law enforcement officer doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen to you.  That isn’t a direct quote but it was something to that affect.  I took offense to it.  No one ever said we were perfect.  We, as law enforcement officers, are human just like everyone else.  We make mistakes and, at times, our lives are cut short just like everyone else.  We just try to do our part to make this place a better and safer place to live.

As we head in to this Labor Day weekend and as we soon begin to reflect upon the emergency workers that were lost ten years ago on September 11th, 2001, lets remember that our law enforcement officers are just trying to do their part.  Thank an officer, medical person or firefighter when you see them and remember Trooper Snipes and his family.  Keep them in your prayers, especially his wife Sheila who was taken to the hospital due to the injuries she sustained as the passenger of the motorcycle they were riding.

http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/sep/01/fatal-motorcycle-crash-bradley-county

http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/15379538/police-investigating-motorcycle-crash-in-bradley-county

http://news.tennesseeanytime.org/node/7727