@Hikaro: Wow. Did you enjoy being in the Navy? Or would you have chosen a different career if you could?
Well.... How to best answer this question. On one hand, between the long hours, constantly having officers breathing down your neck, just looking for any good excuse to send you to NJP and bust you down to Seaman because you cared more about doing your job than sucking up to them, receiving either no credit for my hard work or having the brown-nosers in the division steal it from me, you could say I didn't enjoy being in the Navy very much.
I developed anger management issues and post-traumatic stress from constantly having to watch my back around A-hole officers who were out to get me for the simple fact that I didn't sacrifice my highly mission-critical job just to play silly buggers with them, and have had re-occurring nightmares about being back in the Navy as recently as last year. Add on top of that, performing electronics repair miracles that would have done Scotty from "Star Trek" proud, and not even getting a thank you from the Captain, yet seeing the suck-ups getting Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals just for doing their jobs (or even better for MY hard work), and it's easy to see why I was really un-motivated and kind of dropped off the face of the planet as far as my friends were concerned for about a year after I got out.
Two incidents that highlight how crooked the upper chain of command on my first ship was are as follows: One of my friends got busted down from Petty Officer Second Class (E-5, equivalent to Army Sergeant) to Seaman (E-3, equivalent to Army Private 1st Class) based on nothing but HEARSAY, and the Captain even KNEW the charges were BS, so he delayed my friend's request to be tried by Court Martial (where his case would have been thrown out due to lack of evidence) and waited until the ship was out at sea, in which case you CANNOT request court martial for matters that can be tried by Non-Judicial Punishment, a.k.a. "Captain's Mast", and believe me you my friend GOT the Captain's "Mast" if you know what I mean. In addition to being busted down to Seaman, he ALSO got fined half month's pay for 6 months, and was confined to the ship for 60 days and assigned extra duty for 60 days.
This same captain WOULD have gone after me, but I pretty much derailed his crap by letting word get around that if they tried that BS on me, I'd off myself, and since I was the only tech certified for a mission-critical system, there WOULD be an NCIS investigation, and I knew, and the Captain knew that I knew that there was some shady stuff going on around that ship that the CO would rather not have the NCIS discover. I also let it be known, indirectly, that I had some friends out in Yokosuka who were members of a nice, big happy 'family' who wouldn't appreciate it if anything happened to me, and I was sure that the officers in question would prefer to be able to leave base once in a while without worrying about unfortunate 'accidents' happening to them...
The only other person I knew who was able to derail the USS O'Brien Express (as my friend, FC1 Mark Shiftlett called it, due to the fact that said captain held and average of 15 Captain's Mast cases a MONTH, with no acquittals which is ridiculously high for a ship that size) was my friend ET-2 Olavessen.
Olavessen's dad was a career Navy man in Vietnam, so he gave my friend some REALLY useful tips, and when they tried to send HIM to Captain's Mast on some trumped-up BS charges, during the first part of the process, where the accused appears before the Chief Petty Officer's Disciplinary Review Board (which determines whether the case should go on to Captain's Mast), he proceeded to produce a packet of photographs showing just about EVERY CHIEF ON THE SHIP involved in "activities" that could not only have resulted in being Court Martialled, but also have civil and familial repercussions as well. He then proceeded to say, "It would be a shame if these pics were to somehow get out.... Oh, by the way, if any of you guys try and get clever, I have copies of these pics held by trusted Japanese friends with instructions to turn them in to the nearest Judge Advocate General if anything 'unfortunate' should happen to me."
Needless to say, he walked, and they never tried to pull that crap on him again.
Another incident which served to increase my general hatred towards senior officers, and the ones on that ship in particular was once, when the ship was at sea, I had a critical circuit board in my radar go bad, which was a BIG deal, since my radar was a mission critical system (it was the primary anti-air defense targeting radar). Furthermore, this card, with turn-in (sending it back to a service depot for refurbishing, while getting a refurbished card in return) would have cost the US Navy (and the American Taxpayer) $74,000, not to mention that it would take AT LEAST 2-4 weeks to get the replacement card. I went and used my basic electronics training (despite not having the "official" micro-miniature repair certification) and traced the fault to a single transistor, which was listed as costing $0.98...
I told the official micro-miniature repair guy (who refused to even look at the board because his magic troubleshooting computer he had to use for official diagnostics was broken) to try replacing the transistor, and he told me that I'd have to cover the cost of the component with my own money if that didn't fix it. Of course, my response to THAT bit of bean-counting BS was suitably sarcastic, and he replaced it (but only after getting permission from the CO).
Lo, and behold, that 98 cent transistor fixed the card, and my radar was back in operation less than 24 hours after it went down, and at a savings of $73,999.02 to boot. Now I'm willing to bet you all are going to think that I got some kind of commendation for that bit of miracle-working, even if it was just for saving that much money, but you'd be wrong.... DEAD WRONG! Not only did I NOT get any kind of recognition, not even a "Thank you" from the captain, but the captain's ACTUAL response was something along the lines of "Sure took you long enough!"
Now you know why, when I put in for separation leave (to use up the last of the paid leave time I had on the books), and drove out of the 32nd Street Naval Base in San Diego, California for the last time, I had "It's My Life"
by Bon Jovi blasting on my stereo while I was singing along at the top of my lungs.
On the other hand, though, I did enjoy living in Japan for 3 years and getting to travel to all different countries and see the world. I also was grateful, after witnessing the terror attacks on 9/11 and feeling the outrage that most Americans did at the time, to actually be in a position where I could actually DO something about it and get back at the scumbags responsible.
I'm also grateful for all the life lessons and job experience that I got while in the Navy (even if some of the life lessons were about how big of A-holes people could be and/or took a toll on my sanity at the time), as well as the leg-up my veteran status gives me in the job market: I did, after all, join the Navy mainly to get money for College, get training and work experience in electronics and to get a shot at being stationed in Japan, and since I accomplished all those goals (and much more), I'm pretty satisfied overall.
If I had it all to do again, I might have joined up right after getting out of high school, instead of trying to go to college for 2 years, run out of money, work for a year at a textile mill that, if you can believe it was WORSE than the Navy (If I had a choice between working another year at that textille mill and re-enlisting for another 2-4 years, I'd take the Navy any day of the week) before finally getting tired of my dead-end job at the mill and joining.
Of course, if I had done things differently, I would have never met some of the friends I made while in the Navy, and I certainly would have never met my wife, so I guess I wouldn't change a thing after all.
SO, in summary (TLDR): The Navy had its ups and downs: When things were good, they were usually AWESOME, but when they were bad, they tended to really, REALLY SUCK! I just did my job and tried my best to keep out of trouble and not strangle some of the officers who really deserved it for being either royal pricks or incompetent morons.
Oh, and on the Frog topic, I'm guessing those tropical frogs Mac was talking about are overwintering in people's basements or crawl spaces....