Monday, January 24, 2011

My Sailor Boy

Any posts about Navy pride and parental pride would not be complete without one regarding my oldest, Shaun, who joined the Navy when he was 20.
(This picture was taken in October 1999 when he was home on leave.)

For a little background on Shaun...

He was the kid that barely graduated from high school. In fact, the week before graduation we still weren't sure if he had enough credits to pass.

He got a standing ovation when he crossed the platform. They were all so glad to see him leave graduate. He was, to put it mildly, quite the challenge in school.

He read his text books the first 2 weeks of school and never opened them again. He never turned in homework assignments because (in his words), "The teachers know that I know the answers. All they have to do is ask and I'll tell them." In fact, he always had his hand in the air to answer the questions and teachers frequently had to tell him to put his hand down so someone else could answer the question. Many times, during class discussions, he would be reading another book for pleasure but true to his word, if the teacher called on him, he not only knew the answer, he knew what the discussion was about.

He was pretty cute, too

He always aced the tests - without studying. Ever.

He took a math course (the name of the class escapes me) that usually (for most people) involved several steps to figure out the answer to the problem. The problem would be at the top of the page and the answer spot at the bottom. The middle was reserved for the student's work. Shaun would read the problem and write down the answer. The key was to show the work. He couldn't figure out why or what the work would be. "It's simple. You read the question and this is the answer. There's no work involved." The answer would be technically correct, but without the "work" being shown, the teacher marked it wrong. Every time. But, he was fascinated with how Shaun's brain worked and requested that Shaun take the second level of this math course the next year. The results were the same.

He couldn't keep a job. McDonald's, Sonic, you name it - if it was a fast food restaurant within walking (or bicycling) distance, Shaun had probably worked there and been fired from. He didn't drive. He was hyperactive and took Ritalin so (based on Kansas requirements) couldn't get a driver's license without a doctor signing off on the paperwork. His doctor would not. He was that hyper - ADHD to the max!

He spoke fluent Klingon. (that's his words)

He decided when he was 18 that he wanted to join the military so he talked to the recruiters. They told him he had to be medication-free for two years before he could join, so he took himself off all of his ADHD meds (cold turkey). That could be why he had trouble keeping a job but he was determined to make it happen.

He scored so high on the ASVAB that they had him re-take it. He scored higher. So, they had him take the Nuclear Power entrance exam and scored very high on it, too.

So, into boot camp he went. My family took bets on how long he'd last. I'm happy to say that they all lost. He lasted and although he didn't win any awards, he proved his resiliency. His years of walking around Wichita and riding his bike around town made him in better physical shape than many of his "shipmates" were. He didn't get blisters from walking. He sent several letters to us that talked about how the drill sergeants didn't yell all that much and not always at him, so that was good. From spending years of having others make fun of him at school (he was the butt of many cruel jokes because of his "differences"), he had learned to let most comments and insults roll right off his back. That truly helped him get through boot camp.

After boot camp, he went to school for two years for power school training. That he survived - and did well - was really surprising to us all because he had to study. And turn in homework. Two foreign items to him. He had to spend a certain number of hours each week at the school doing his studies and turning in the assignments.

But, he ended up doing quite well and when he finished, he was stationed on the USS Harry S Truman.

His Boot Camp photo

Various Certificates

Certificate and Press Release photo

Discharge and 1st re-enlistment certificate

He's making a career of the Navy and is now a 1st Class Petty Officer and studying for Chief. Shaun is currently stationed in Bremerton, WA on the USS John C Stennis.

We're very proud of our Sailor Boy!


Jumble Mash said...

Much to be proud of!!! Sounds like he pulled through just fine.

Thisisme. said...

You're so right to be proud of him, Teresa. It must have been very frustrating for him at school. He was obviously really clever but just couldn't conform to the rules. I am so pleased he is doing so well now.

Bouncin' Barb said...

What a great post Teresa. He sounded much like my son as a youth. My husband wanted Mike to go into the military so bad because he thought they could shape him up but with his bad asthma it wasn't an option. He's still floundering at 29. Maybe someday he'll stand firmly on the ground.

Jimmy said...

Very Nice post Teresa, you have a young man to be very proud of and I am proud you shared this great tribute to him with us.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Congratulations on your son's accomplishments! I bet you burst with pride--you have every right to. What a joy to see a kid struggle and then land on both feet and stand up straight and tall doing something he succeeds at.

Marla said...

What an awesome story of your amazing young man. Did I ever tell you our son was on the Stennis? He is career also.

Tell Shaun we said, "Well done, Sailor!"