Sunday, June 14, 2009

Only 5 days left!

Let me begin by describing my last day and a half to you. On Friday night our liberty (time off and away from base) began at 1630. I quickly made my way back to my room to shower and pack for the weekend because I was going to pick up my wife from the airport at 1900. This was the first time that I had seen her in a little over a month. I picked her up and we had dinner and just relaxtogether. We fell asleep around 2330 excited that we were finally in each others company again and anticipating the next two days together, but at 0300 that would all change.

My phone rang and I was able to get to just before it went to voicemail, it was LT Atherly (a dentist who is in the room next to me back on base). His first words were "Earls I got bad news". He proceeded to inform me that an ODS student in a separate company went out on Friday night, got drunk, and eventually assaulted a cab driver (the word is that he punched him in the throat) and got arrested. This, obviously, angered the XO of ODS and the Class Officer to the point that they started the chain of calls going out to every ODS student that they were to return to base by 1300 the on Saturday. For Annie and I this meant that we were able to wake up, get breakfast, and then drive down to Newport in just enough time so that she could drop me off at the base.

Once back at base our company (Romeo) quietly waited for our senior Chief to come in and give us the news of what would happen to the rest of the liberty weekend. After an hour of standing on the line in uniform (waiting outside the door to our room) he finally came on the hall. First he asked if we had all heard what happened, we said yes. Then he stated that we are all one class, therefore our liberty was to be secured. We are now authorized to be in our building (King Hall) or the galley, nothing else. If your families are here, too bad! If you spent money on other plans, too bad!

Our company works hard to be good to go and have our stuff together is still made to suffer because of one person who is in a completely different company. Needless to say this has dropped the moral of Romeo company alot. Instead of being excited about the last week of ODS and enjoying the rest of our time here most of us have taken on the attitude of we don't really care anymore, we don't want to participate in any of the end of class celebrations that are to take place throughout the week. All we are thinking of is 5 more days.

So now I talk to Annie on the phone just like I have for the last month, but when I talk to her today I am haunted by the knowledge that she is less than 5 minutes away from where I am and there is no way I can see her.

I don't want to be angry or bitter. I want to feel joy in Christ and let that joy radiate out to others even in a time of despair, but today has been a hard day.

May the Lord bless me and keep me
and make His face to shine upon me.

Joshua Earls


  1. Welcome to the military Joshy-boy! I understand your frustrations... It's all part of the process of trying to break you from your individuality. Don't worry though, they ain't never gonna bring you down fella. Set the example for all those throat punching dentists; stay positive. Last mile budd, you're almost there!

  2. A Navy Chaplain writes -

    Josh, I sound like a broken record (which is why I didn't respond immediately to your post) when I say, this event and your personal response to it are important lessons for your chaplaincy experience over the next 20-30 years. Now you KNOW what it is like to be punished unfairly for the actions of others and to take that punishment as a unit and not as individuals. When a young Sailor or Marine comes to you with a similar story you will understand on a visceral level what they are telling you and your ability to be empathetic will be far greater. Notice also how bummed out you and your classmates were...So when this happens to your Sailors or Marines you will understand the potential need to approach the CMC, SgtMajor, XO or CO and provide feedback on the morale of the unit based on recent liberty restrictions, etc. You will be a better advocate for the members of the command. On the other hand, you may want to interview the Senior Chief and find out why the command decided on the course it did (restricting liberty for everyone). Their response is important because one day you will need to interpret the orders of the command in a way that will help your Sailors and Marines obey them in more than a desultory, resentful fashion. You get the honor and privilege and dubious joy of standing in the liminal area between the deckplates and the bridge. It is not an easy place to be.
    Blessings on your graduation! Welcome to Chaplains School, where it will be a 24/7 group hug. Not.