In two previous posts, I chronicled my path from boot camp through Navy Nuclear Power School, and then from graduation from prototype to my time spent aboard USS Sandlance (SSN660). Today’s post will be the final installment of this series and will follow my path from Sandlance to recruiting duty and the end of my Navy career. This is my picture from my first day on recruiting duty at NRD Atlanta!
Recruiting Duty NRD Atlanta
Why go to recruiting duty after spending 6 years going through nuclear power training and qualifying aboard a submarine? It was a little strange, I guess, but I had been aboard Sandlance from October 1985 – August 1989. In May 1988, Sandlance went into the shipyards in Portsmouth, NH, leaving Charleston, SC. I got married to the lovely and adorable Lana in July 1988 and moved her and my daughter Laura to Dover, NH. We spent a year there, but it was time to move on to something else. Lana and I wanted to head back to the warmer world of the South, and recruiting duty seemed like a good fit. I requested the transfer and it was granted! Below is my recommendation from my CO.
The first part of recruiting duty consisted off 5 weeks of training in Orlando. The coursework was not difficult – especially compared to the previous regimen I experienced in Orlando, but it was challenging in its own way. One of the more awkward training sequences was making cold calls. Anyone who has been in most any kind of sales knows about cold calling. Basically, you have a list of phone numbers and a script and you call someone at random and try to convince them to buy your product. Memorizing the script was pretty easy, but trying to stay on script with people who didn’t want to talk to you was difficult. It did help to develop a thick skin, which was a necessary trait for a recruiter, and one that I still use today in my role as a global supply chain manager.
The 5 weeks flew by and I graduated and was selected as “Most Likely To Succeed” by my classmates. I was surprised and humbled by the honor! Here is my award!
My duty station was Naval Recruiting District Atlanta and my office the Naval Recruiting Station Americus. For those who don’t know where Americus is, it is in South Georgia about 30 miles from Albany and about 10 miles from Plains, GA (home of former President Jimmy Carter). If you have ever gone down I 75 and turned at exit 101 in Cordele, you were at the eastern edge of my recruiting territory. The western edge was at the Alabama line in Stewart County. I had 9 high schools to visit monthly, so I logged a huge amount of windshield time!! One thing about recruiting duty is the awards you get. The recruiting world is very keen on recognition! I added a few pictures of awards I received further down in the post and pictures of my recruiting badge (rookie cookie and with gold star) and business card.
Recruiting Badge Rookie Cookie
Recruiting badge with 6 gold wreaths
Interestingly enough, recruiting duty helped me decide on my college major. Georgia Southwestern State University is located in Americus, and happened to be right on my way home. It seemed only natural to go to school there and, given that recruiting is part of the Human Resources function in most places, HR Management became my major. That is probably about as diametrically opposite to nuclear power as one can get!
What did I do while on recruiting duty? Besides logging the windshield time, I did my high school visits, and made the required cold calls> I filled out tons of paperwork and ran waivers on kids that needed them. Mostly, I tried to present an accurate picture of what the Navy was all about. I know the reputation that recruiters have for telling potential recruits whatever was necessary to get them to sign on the dotted line, but I didn’t do that (as every recruiter in the world will tell you). Seriously, I didn’t! Over the 3 and a half years of recruiting duty, of all the people I sent to boot camp and only 2 of them didn’t make it through. One broke an ankle and the other caught pneumonia. Of all of the kids I recruited only 3 didn’t go to boot camp, so I had a pretty good track record. Below is one of my Delayed Entry Program (DEP) Management Awards.
DEP Management Award
For you submarine sailors out there, you know the cup, but we had a couple of cups, too!
I have to recount one story, though. During a visit to one of my favorite high schools, I set up my table at lunch to talk to kids while they were in the cafeteria. Across from me was a Marine Gunny Sergeant, all decked out in his dress blues. I was wearing my normal winter blues, so I was definitely out dressed.
Anyway, this kid asked the gunny what all his ribbons meant and all was fine until the gunny pointed to his sea service ribbon (with 3 stars) and told the kid it was some kind of Marine Corps ribbon. I couldn’t take it and told the gunny to tell the kid the truth. The gunny gave me a cold stare, but the kid noticed that I had the ribbon, too (with no stars). He asked me what it was and I told him. The kid got mad because the Marine was lying to him. The Marine was mad at me because he thought he lost a recruit, and I just smiled! I think the kid eventually went into the Air Force.
That was the way I conducted my time as a recruiter. I would tell the kids that, based on their ASVAB scores, they qualified for certain jobs, although I couldn’t guarantee that job. I drove most of them to Atlanta, and waited while they went through physicals and job classification. Afterwards, I drove them home, encouraged them to tell their friends about me and the Navy, and monitored them until they departed for boot camp. Many of my recruits came back to work for me for a week after boot camp and enthusiastically spoke to former classmates and friends about their Navy experiences.
While on recruiting duty, I finished my degree (which the Navy mostly paid for), and was a walking poster child for getting an education while serving on active duty. Since school was on the way home, I often wore my uniform to class. That generated a lot of leads and conversations – especially when people found out that I served aboard submarines! I did nuclear power lectures for math and science classes. Once I had to speak extemporaneously for an hour during a school club day! Like I said, while not as academically challenging as nuke school, recruiting duty taught me a lot. I still use the presentation skills in my job today.
I wanted to go back to sea after recruiting duty and planned to go to King’s Bay, GA on a missile boat. However, when I called my detailer, he told me I could go to Bremerton, WA or Pearl Harbor, HI. I told him that he forgot option 3….see ya! I had recently graduated with my degree in HR. My wife was in graduate school and my daughter a junior in high school. Uprooting them was out of the question. August 23, 1993, a little over 10 years from my date of enlistment, I left the Navy with an honorable discharge. I headed out into the civilian world, my Navy career at an end.
I never worked in HR after I got my degree. I’ve spent most of my post-Navy career working in the human and animal pharmaceutical business in supply chain. I went on to complete a master’s degree in Management and have had a great life. I’m happily married to my amazing wife, Lana. I have an amazing daughter, and two incredible grandchildren. I’ve written four books (The Gemstone Chronicles series), about to start my fifth book, learned to hunt for gemstones, prospect for gold, and generally enjoy life! I do occasionally wonder what would have happened had I stayed in the Navy. If I had, I probably would have applied for OCS, and who knows where that may have led? I miss the guys from the boat (not the boat so much), and stay connected with quite a few of them. All told, my Navy career was a formative time and one that remains firmly entrenched in everything I do!
Did any of you readers spend time as a recruiter? If so, leave me a comment and let me know how your experience was. If you served in any branch of military, did your recruiter tell you the truth? Did you know what to expect when you enlisted? I’m always interested to hear stories about recruiting duty or tales of the wrong and right actions of recruiters.
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