Today will be the final piece about boot camp. Some of you who read the blog regularly may be saying to yourself, ‘whew… glad he got past that one…’
After turning our company around from near disaster, Chief Ford made it his mission to make his last company the best he’d ever trained. He pushed hard for us to excel at every test including swimming, shooting, marching, Naval history, physical fitness, barracks inspections, cleaning duties, dress code, and many others.
By the end of week seven, we were neck-n-neck with one other company for the top spot out of twelve. The final test was a series of physical fitness tests. These were, for me, some of the toughest. Not the running so much, but the pull-ups. Being tall and slender, I didn’t have the upper body strength of someone with a smaller frame.
It was down to just a few of us and I may have been one of them. Those pull-ups were waiting. I jumped up and grabbed that bar and, with everything I could muster, I ‘pulled it off’ in record time. What a relief!
The next day, we were told our scores. Chief Ford played a game with us making us think we hadn’t done it. But, after a few minutes of stress, he announced that we did it. We were NUMBER ONE!... We all cheered and high-fived. What a great memory.
Of course, he didn’t let that last too long before he said, 'Now, get your blanking blanks back in line! We still have work to do!’ What a feeling to have come from one of the worst companies to finish first ahead of all the rest.
It was a team effort, for certain. It was a joy to call cadence for the company as we marched past the review stands during graduation as number one. I had volunteered early-on to call cadence because no one else would and I figured, I can do that. Sure enough, it was ‘a left, right, a right a left, right….’ and so on for seven weeks. My voice had gone down to a baritone by the end!
Looking back, one of the biggest things that helped me get through that time was a verse in the Bible I would read nearly every day and meditate on. To this day, it’s still one of my favorites and has seen me through some tough times.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
So, today, here’s to not giving up in adversity. Here’s to looking up to the hills from whence comes our help. Here’s to hard work, perseverance, and trusting a higher power to get us through when life seems too difficult to make it on our own. Finally, here’s to the great US Navy who I love to this day. Anchors Aweigh!!!