She did it!

ITSN Ator returned home on Thursday, January 17th: Tired, proud of her accomplishment, full of stories about the experience, and oh so happy to be back with her family!

"Under the redline!"
Robin's shipmate, Honor graduate, Master at Arms (MAA) Anna Constante in front.

Robin's report:
The making of a Sailor. It is all about the core values of the Navy.

Honor, Courage, and Commitment!

Most all of you know exactly what I am speaking of, but for those of you who don’t, I’ll explain.

HONOR – I am accountable for my professional and personal behavior. I will be mindful of the privilege I have to serve my fellow Americans.

COURAGE – Courage is the value that gives me the moral and mental strength to do what is right, with confidence and resolution, even in the face of temptation or adversity.

COMMITMEMT – The day-to day duty of every man and woman in the Navy is to join together as a team to improve the quality of our work, our people and ourselves.

Every member of the Naval service (active, reserve, and civilian) must understand and live by these core values. For more than 200 years, members of the Naval service have stood ready to protect our nation and our freedom. We are ready today to carry out any mission; deter conflict around the globe and, if called upon to fight, be victorious. I will be faithful to these Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment as an abiding duty and a privilege.

Bootcamp definitely was not Camp Snoopy, not even close! Whoever it was who told me “it’s all just a head game”, I owe a big hug to. They (the RDC’s) played with my head big time. The second week was the worst experience of my life, except for the first week, which was the absolute worst experience of my life! I cannot begin to tell you how hard those 15 days were for me and how many times I wanted to give up and head home. Thankfully, I had some wonderful recruit shipmates who would not let me give up.

My division started out with about 140 recruits and we lost at least one person a day up to the last day, but I was not one of them!! I made it and that is something no one can ever take away from me.

Take the normal 8 week Bootcamp and cram pack everything into 15 days and you have NPSAC. Only it is worse because 18-20 year olds are still accustom to being yelled at and told what to do. Unlike the 30+ year olds in NPSAC who must be mentally broken and have their entire thought process reshaped and modified to fit within Navy Standards and the Core Values.

Yes, I was broken and I am not ashamed to admit it. What I went through in Great Lakes is not something I would wish on my worst enemy, nor would I trade the experience for anything in this world. At 37 I finally know who I really am and what lies within me. I know what I am capable of accomplishing, and more importantly, that no matter what, I CAN keep my mouth shut when necessary. No matter how many sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks I was forced to do, I did not do them alone. Regardless of who committed the infraction, we as a division stepped up and took responsibility as a team. After four days we were no longer individuals, we were a team and had begun to fully understand the meaning of the word “SHIPMATE”.

My shipmates kept me from bailing out by keeping my mind focused on something other than my family and the physical pain I was in. Actually, the emotional/mental stress was much worse than anything physical they through at us. I missed my family and Saturday the 12th was the only day I was allowed to call home. I hated it!

Some of the training I received included the following:
Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense
Basic Shipboard Firefighting
Damage Control
Class III Swim Qualification

We participated in several events that were simulated to represent “the real deal”, such as the attack on the USS Cole, the incident aboard the USS Forrestral (Trial by Fire) just to name a few. We marched 5-10 miles per day, everyday, and fortunately we had decent weather the majority of the time. I passed the PRT above SAT minimums, and managed to avoid catching the recruit crud which had most of my fellow shipmates hacking and coughing the entire time.

No, I did not manage to get through unknown. I was the Religious PO for my division and was responsible for prayer service prior to taps, among other things. Unlike my shipmates, I never once returned to the ship to find my locker empty and belongings strewn all over the deck. I was actually nominated by the RDC’s for the position of “Honor Recruit” which is a label given to the “most squared away” recruit.

Both the recruits and RDC’s make an individual nomination for the position, and the nominess go before a review board where they are drilled by two Chiefs and a Sr Chief. They make notations of your appearance, military bearing, how you uncover, salute, and answer questions.
Only one problem, I was competing against our Division MAA who just happened to also be from Ft Worth. A single mom, with 6 children (2 sets of twins) who had done an outstanding job as MAA and needed the recognition much more than I did.

Sr. Chief - “Who is the CNO?”
Seaman Recruit Ator – …thinking to herself ….that would be Admiral Clark, but Anna’s worked damn hard for this award.
Seaman Recruit Ator – “Sr Chief, the Chief of Naval Operations is Rear Admiral Rondeau, Sr Chief”

Honor thy shipmate, have the courage to do the right thing, and be committed to seeing that the right person gets rewarded.

I was nominated and that was good enough for me.

Recruits in formation for graduation behind their Division Commanders.