Let's talk about the Navy and my time to Japan
Well, I like to think of it as the spices of life. Everything implies all facets of life to include those elements that make our lives special. For me, it all started when I joined the Navy and my wife and I had our first daughter. What a scary time in the life of a couple of newlyweds with a baby in a new city with little to no money. My first duty station landed us in Norfolk, VA.
We secured an apartment in the Willoughby Spit neighborhood with barely any furniture. We actually had to change diapers on a blanket on the floor. I wasn't going to be detoured though and I was going to make a life for my family no matter what. I remember checking in and assigned to the First Lieutenant Division for undesignated/problem Sailors. While checking in and walking around the hangar I would see Sailors washing helicopters and thinking to myself, this was not the life I had envisioned when joining. Remembering what Tony Robins would say, "The path to success is to massive, determined action" and I decided to take action! I spoke to the chain of command and anyone else that would listen regarding what it was that I could offer. I was a hard charger, intelligent, and willing to take on the toughest jobs. Quickly my name got around the squadron and I was approached by my soon to be Division Officer and HELO pilot who said my name had been floating around and that I was looking for a job. He said the squadron would be installing a computer network soon and needed help on the installation. Did I know anything about computers he asked, to which I replied not much but willing to learn. For the next 2 weeks I spent countless hours in the library learning everything I could about computer networking, cabling, and basic maintenance. The next time we spoke, I was able to speak the language and he made me the lead for the project as an Airman. I ended up running the network and struck Radioman because it was foretold they would be merging with the Data Processing (DP) rating. I advanced to Petty Officer 3rd Class and received orders to the USS Wadsworth (FFG-9).
My second daughter Jordyn was born and we moved to San Diego to meet the ship. Because of my prior experience, I quickly took over the ship's ADP network operations and spent countless hours developing a program that would convert email in a proprietary (SALTS supply program) format on floppy disc to Microsoft Exchange output. This allowed the ship to avoid utilizing the "Sneaker NET" and receive email as it is designed today. This process consumed most of my time and I would be visited throughout the day/night be eager Shipmates asking if I had done a download hoping to receive correspondence from their loved ones. It wasn't until the Commanding Officer came over the 1MC to announce, "No one is to approach RM3 Jones from this point forward" then I was able to get some sleep. Needless to say, I was awarded a spot Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NAM) for my efforts, advanced to RM2, and transferred to the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center San Diego (NMCRSD) following the deployment for shore duty.
NMCRCSD was a great place to work and I was surrounded by good people. I began going to college and decided to major in Psychology. Due to money being low I also started a side job in plumbing for Escondido Plumbing Repair in north county. This was also the beginning of the NMCI transition and I was able to save the Nay $500,000.00 by designing a dockable workstation solution avoiding a per seat cost for all 3,000 reservists. I was awarded a spot NAM for my efforts on this as well. Around this time I became heavily involved with fitness and became the Command Fitness Leader. I decided it was time to combine fitness with mission and took orders to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit SEVENTEEN. By far my favorite command to date and brought me full circle in the Information Technology field by introducing mobile communications. I served as the Command Career Counselor, Command Fitness Leader, and Comms Department Leading Petty Officer (LPO). It was here that Ii volunteered for a Joint POW Accounting Command (JPAC) Individual Augmentation to Vietnam. When I received my orders they had been modified sending me to Pyongyang North Korea. I spent 30 days in a palace about 5 miles north from Kim Il-Sung's fortress relaying SITREPS back to headquarters in Hawaii. On a routine trip to the Chosin Reservoir I saw out the corner of my eye all dilapidated and heavily listing was the USS Pueblo. When I asked to snap a photo, the answer from our Military Foreign Affairs minders was an unequivocal no! The team walked across the DMZ to South Korea and greeted by US Forces, Korea General LaPorte and CNN reporters. We conducted a re-repatriation ceremony for the remains of 8 American Soldiers lost in the battle. The General looked over at the team and saluted us for our endeavors. That ceremony moved me and the first time I've ever shed a tear in uniform. Understanding their commitment and the family's reaction to finally bringing their loved ones home, changed my life forever.