Quote of the Day: “My roommate says, “I need to shave and use the shower. Does anyone need to use the bathroom?” It’s like some weird-ass quiz where he reveals the answer first?”
- Mitch Hedburg
Two good calls today.
First, the extra day of leave. Golden. I guess I should have actually checked out from Marine Online but to be fair, it was down all week. I tried as often as I got a chance to get online (which was not much since it was a REAL vacation) but the site was down every time I checked. Since Officers can check themselves in and out, I figured I would backdate it when I got through and straighten out the books.
In hindsight, I should have called the Company and talked to them about it. When I did today, the First Sergeant respectfully told me that this is a problem lately since leave started being handled on MOL. If something happens when a Marine’s on leave but hasn’t actually checked out (whistle…), it could cause problems with death benefits and medical bills.
I guess I should be more responsible about these things considering the second good call I made today.
I called the LtCol that left me a message and it ends up he knew me, or at least of me. He was a Tanker and let me clue you in on something here: this is huge. The Tanker community in the Marine Corps is very small and very tight (no sexual jokes, please, I’m trying to convey something here). He left Tanks in 1997 before I got there but he had done a stint up at Regiment when I was the Adjutant.
So we had a Tanker background in common (let me point out I was NOT a Tanker but their Adjutant. But they kind of took me in as a beloved stepchild and I always point out that although I was WITH Tanks, I don’t like to lead people to believe that I was or believe I “was a Tanker.” I have too much respect for these people to perpetrate.)
Anyway, this was a serious positive in my favor.
I started out by apologizing for taking so long to get back to him and explained that for fun, I like to take leave and go to other Marine Corps bases. He said that his Adjutant, a friend of mine, called that one because she said I was the kind of Marine that would not ignore a request from a LtCol to call him.
As I figured, he offered me the job. Now I was having not a little bit of stress over the fact that I had pretty much sold my soul to the other LtCol last week when I thought the Company Commander billet was off the table.
In that conversation, it looked like the Series Officer duty was front and center so I enthusiastically agreed, not dishonestly, that given the option of that or Adjutant work, I was going to be the best Series Officer the Marine Corps has ever seen.
For this reason, it was a bit uncomfortable when that LtCol listed what he thought were my choices: first as a Series Officer, in a close second, a Company Commander at HQBN….. schreeeeeech!!! Hold the phone, I thought that was off the table!!!!
He continues, “…. and in a distant third, Adjutant work.”
So what was I supposed to do? We had just spent an hour talking about how great it was going to be to be a Series Officer and I was all pumped for it and then he indicates that Company Command could still be in the mix. I couldn’t backpedal at this point, wasn’t in my nature, so I agreed and thought from that point on, I was destined for Series Officer work. I was fine with it. Thrilled, actually.
Until I got an email from the HQ Battalion XO asking me to call him.
So, now that we are caught up, remember that I was nervous about talking to THIS LtCol after I had agreed with the OTHER LtCol. I was looking at doing something I was not accustomed to: telling a LtCol thanks for the opportunity of a lifetime but I’ll take a pass.
It was to my great relief to find out that these two LtCols had talked (of course they did, CAPTAIN, you think they got their silver oak leaves out of a Cracker Jacks box?) and had decided that I would best fit as the Company Commander. The reasons they came up with were surprising.
First, I didn’t fit the mold they wanted for Series Commander because they like to have Officers for a full three years. This way, they can bring them up from newbie and develop them into Company Commanders with some continuity. I only have two years so that would mess things up a bit.
Second, I have a sneaking suspicion that RTR is either required to send Officers up to fulfill certain billets or RTR realized that with my seniority, I would likely be going over in a year anyway.
Third, HQBN is short Majors because of the war and they are only filled to 80% manning for Majors (Staffing goal). For this reason, they have to fill certain Major billets with Captains and when they do so, they like to put someone there that is both senior and prior enlisted if possible. This gives them a bigger experience base to draw from. I fit both of those desires.
Fourth, and most importantly, I was vouched for. The HQBN Adjutant is a friend of mine who went through The Basic School and Adjutant School with me. We were also based in 29 Palms together before I went to Monterey and she went to the MEU (a plumb job that speaks highly of her abilities).
It seems that when she saw I was inbound, she stormed into the XO’s office and all but grabbed him by the collar telling him that he needed to assign me as the Company Commander. She must have made a pretty good pitch and kept up with outrageous exaggerations because based on her descriptions, I should go from this billet to 8th and I living in the big white house.
Her persistence paid off and in large part of her intervention, I will be the next Headquarters Company Commander.
How do you thank someone for something like that? I figured taking her and her husband out for one hell of a dinner would start things out and then of course not making a liar out of her. That’s always good.
The XO wanted to ensure only one thing by talking to me and he didn’t mince words about it at all. He wanted to make sure I didn’t become a ROAD Marine (Retired On Active Duty) and drop my pack the second year to do more “transitioning” than leading the Company.
Answering this is like being accused of being a child molester or a racist; the more you try to explain why you are not, the more it sounds like you are.
My best attempt was to say something to the effect of
“Sir, I can sit here all day and tell you what you want to hear and promise you I won’t but that guarantees you nothing. What I can tell you is that I give you my word as an Officer and a Gentleman that I consider this opportunity as the apex of my career. I will have 21 years in the Marine Corps and this will be my first and last chance at true Command so it’s neither in my interest nor in my nature to squander such an opportunity. I started at San Diego and I’ll be damned if I end it there any other way than fulfilling my duty as a Company Commander honorably.”
I think that eased his mind about where I was at with this.
There was only one shoe left and he dropped it.
“I need you here as close to the 4th of July weekend as you can.”
I wasn’t slated to detach from Quantico until July 14th and check into San Diego until the end of August. As it stands, I’m already asking my command to let me loose a full 45 days before I was due at my next duty station. Now, I have to go ask them to push it back all the way to June 9th so we can leave right when the kids get out of school and still get 3 Â½ weeks of transfer and vacation time.
I told him I would talk to my command and contact him when I get an answer. I was willing to do it (get out of Virginia and to San Diego just in time for summer? Are you friggin’ kiddin’ me?!) and no matter what, I would get there as soon as I could even if I had to go straight from here to there without leave.
Things just got a whole lot busier.
Free Advice for Today: “When meeting someone for the first time, resist asking what they do for a living. Enjoy their company without attaching labels.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.