NAVY CLUB of the United State of America MILITARY EXCELLENCE Award
“Presented to the graduating recruit who best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military appearance and behavior, self-discipline and teamwork.”
This was the highest honor any recruit could be awarded.
I won that sucker in ‘85.
Before I went to Boot Camp, aka in Naval Parlance, “Recruit Training” my recruiter told my wife:
“Hey, If Lance wins this award, The Navy will pay for your plane ticket and lodging at Great Lakes Naval Recruit Center so you may see Lance graduate. But of course, it is very unlikely he will win. I mean the odds are against it, but who knows? Lance has scored the best on his ASVAB and he looks to be squared-away.” Blah Blah Blah.
My wife was an Army Reserve Vet, a Non-Com in the U.S. Army Reserve, and for her day job, a probation officer. She should have smelled bullshit. So should I. But neither one of us did. We were poor. I promised her before I left for Boot Camp:
“Janet, I am gonna win that award and you are gonna be so proud of me. The Navy will fly you to Chicago and we will be together before I ship out to SEAL training. Don’t worry: the Navy is an honorable service. They cannot make these claims if they are not true.”
She put me on the plane and I headed off to Great Lakes RTC (Recruit Training Center). I arrived at 0400hrs and somewhat scared shitless, even though I was twenty-seven and a veteran of one war zone already (see SFM). But I had seen too many movies and I knew my next nine weeks would ‘test’ me.