I should probably start writing down my Navy stories before I forget them. I’ll start with this one, as it has come to mind this weekend due to recent events.
I met Jesse while I was on summer training for NROTC. This was just after my freshman year of college, and I was assigned to Norfolk, Virginia. We were assigned to the same squad.
Scene 1: Introductions
At some point, I was his squad leader; another week, he was mine. The first clear memory that I have was one day just before PT. We were all gathered in a field and were getting our flight suits for the next week’s training. I was happy to note that I had the smallest flight suit of all the girls. I like being little, what can I say?
Anyways, Jesse was talking to some of the others about how he had been in the Navy as an enlisted prior to being sent to college and ROTC. He had been a Corpsman and had attained the prestigious rank of E-2. I must have thought that he sounded rather arrogant or something, or maybe it’s just that punk streak in me, but I felt that I had to take him down a peg or two. Most of the other midshipmen there were straight from high school; there were very few mustangs like Jesse and I. So, I gleefully told him that not only was I *also* a fellow prior enlisted, but I had made E-4!
He wasn’t so happy to hear this — taking his thunder or whatever. He asked how I had gotten to E-4 so quickly, as apparently it’s much harder to make rate as a corpsman. I let him know that I was a Nuke, which is way awesome. I think he rolled his eyes in denial of my awesomeness and made some remark saying that I was a “push-button petty officer,” implying that I didn’t earn my rank, I just got it with the job. Sour grapes, my friend…. 🙂
A few minutes later, he takes the cap off one of those 32 oz. Gatorade bottles that he was using as a water bottle, presumably to take a sip. He comes up to me and, on purpose, splashes me with it, making some lame excuse like, “Oops. I tripped.” Right. Sure.
Soon after, we were told that we were going to be playing Ultimate Frisbee, and that we should take our flight suits back to our barracks. Half of us were to change into white shirts (instead of the brown shirts that went with the camo pants we were wearing). Both Jesse and I were on the white shirt team.
I had fun playing Ultimate Frisbee. After it was over, and most people left the field, I saw that Jesse was in the middle of the field doing some more PT. I think he wanted to be a Navy SEAL or something. Me being the sweet thing that I am, walked up to him — water bottle in hand — and promptly dumped the entire contents on him, saying something like, “Oops. I tripped.”
He jumped up and wrestled me to the ground for a bit. We both ended up — in our thin, government-issued white T-shirts — all wet and muddy and thoroughly disreputable-looking. 🙂 Then, we both had to head back to the barracks to change. Because the barracks were built with the doors of the rooms emptying out to a wrap-around balcony, pretty much everyone was outside on a balcony watching the two of us return, and noting our appearance. Ha!
Scene 2: A Marine Outing
It was still Marines week. All week long, they had us pushing fluids so that we wouldn’t become dehydrated. Periodically, we were told to drink half a canteen or a full canteen. Each of us was issued 2 canteens to keep on our belt. Unfortunately, I only got one. So, I only consumed half the water as everyone else.
At the end of the week, we had a field exercise where we simulated taking a beach, doing night rounds, and then the final push in the morning. I think this happened the first morning. I know it was earlier, like 8 am or so and we were getting ready to go out on one of the amphibious vehicles. I started feeling awful. I was dizzy and lightheaded and I think I started crying for no reason. They took me over to the corpsman on duty, where it was found that I was pretty dehydrated.
The corpsman’s name who took care of me was Livesay. I know that I’m a bad stick, and when I’m dehydrated, I’m *really* bad. After many unsuccessful attempts, Livesay told me, “I have never not gotten a stick. If you do not cooperate this next try, I’m going to put this needle in your neck!” He wasn’t joking.
The needle went in.
I got some ridiculous amount of IV fluid pushed into me. Then, I had to go to the bathroom. Like, NOW. Gotta say, when you are in the hospital, you got it good. You have your IV bag hooked up to the little pole on wheels. When you are in the military, you have to do your business with a guy holding your IV bag, while you try to be discrete and pretend he isn’t 3 feet away, hearing everything.
After a while, I was deemed hydrated enough and allowed to return to my squad in the early afternoon. I don’t remember if they were eating lunch, or had just finished eating lunch. I don’t think I ate anything. Next, we took a ride in an amphibious vehicle. We went up and down some sand dunes, then out to sea in the waves, in a circle. There was a turret with some sort of gun on it, and we took turns so that each midshipman would get a chance to sit up there. I was in the back and would be one of the last people to go. The way the vehicle was, there was seating in two rows inside, and the top of the vehicle had an opening lengthwise. Most of us were standing on the seats, so that we could peek our heads out and look. I was too short to see anything, but I did stand up and hang on as we were bouncing around.
Now, I have to mention what we were wearing: camo pants, jungle boots, T-shirt, heavier camo shirt, flak jacket and a helmet. It was warm and humid out. I get seasick. I was just treated for dehydration. We were going up and down, up and down, up and down — in addition to being generally rattled around by trying to hang on while standing on seats in a moving vehicle. Needless to say, I was starting to feel very nauseated.
Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to get off this vehicle or yak. I told one of the guys (who was part of the vehicle crew), and he started to signal to the driver to stop to let me off. Jesse was standing near me, but didn’t hear what I had said (it was very noisy). He must have thought that I was having issues from the heat or something because he started to take off my clothes. He had unzipped my flak jacket and was in the process of unbuttoning my camo shirt when I said something like, “I’m okay! I’m just nauseated!”
Poor boy turned beet red. And stopped undressing me.
Embarrassing, maybe. But he was only trying to take care of me. 🙂
Come to think of it now, being cooler probably would have helped with the nausea. Getting off the vehicle was still a way better treatment plan.
Scene 3: The Goodbye
It was one of the final days at Norfolk and I was heading back from the Navy Exchange. At one point, I passed by Jesse (I don’t recall who he was standing around with). As I passed, he called out, “What? You’re not going to say goodbye?!” I was a little surprised, as I didn’t think that Jesse had given me very much thought after the Marine week. I think I turned around and gave him a hug goodbye.
Scene 4: The Picture
This is probably out of order with the Goodbye scene, but I don’t remember precisely where it fits in. It was one of the last days and we had a picnic where we played some flag football or something like that. After, as we were resting in the picnic area, I tried to get pictures of everyone. When I got to Jesse, he was smiling, but the moment I went to snap the photo, he made this stoic, Terminator face. I think to show how tough he was. So, this is what I got. Jesse’s the guy on the right: