Everything I Need To Know, I Learned In The Navy

Everything I Need To Know, I Learned In The Navy

By:  Garland Davis


Growing up in rural North Carolina, I learned many things to help me cope with my environment.  I learned about farming, making barbecue and ice cream.  I learned to cook and bake.  The food skills turned out to very beneficial in my Navy life.

I also learned to make Moonshine Whiskey.  Haven’t really used this knowledge although I did employ some of the rudiments making Raisin-Jack in USS Vesuvius.

The things I learned helped me reach my seventeenth birthday and my enlistment. Everything I needed to know about life I learned in the Navy.

  1. Never lie, even if it means you will get in the shits. It is permissible to stretch the truth when having a few cool ones with shipmates and telling stories of events that transpired during other drinking bouts with other shipmates.
  1. Stealing from a shipmate is the worst thing you could ever do. There is nothing more to be said on this subject.
  1. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Live by your word. Your reputation is built on doing what you promise. Don’t claim you will do something that you know you cannot do.  In other words, “Don’t let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird ass.”
  1. Clean up after yourself, and remind your shipmates to do the same. Don’t be a scrounge and don’t permit others to become a scrounge. During much of your career, you will have to clean up messes.  Don’t become the person who leaves a mess for others to clean up. If you see a mess, clean it up regardless of who left it.
  1. Procedures are tried and tested. Always, follow the procedure. If it goes to shit, the procedure will cover your ass. Now is the time to point out the error in procedures and show your better method. If you try to change the procedure beforehand and it goes to shit, it is your fault because you didn’t follow procedure.
  1. It isn’t who you are, or whom you know……, but what you know. Learn what is required to perform your duties properly. Also, learn as much as you can about what others do. You will be a better shipmate by doing your job and having the ability to help others.
  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Your shipmates sure won’t. You are no more or less important than they are.
  1. Don’t brag – let your actions speak for themselves. Don’t make a big deal out of what you did or what you intend to do. Just do it. Talking about is doing the easy part.  This comes back to the alligator mouth analogy.
  1. There isn’t a lot of personal space on the ships. Respect your shipmate’s space literally and figuratively. Don’t get in a shipmate’s face over nickel and dime matters. If you dish it out, you had better be able to take it. Don’t ridicule or denigrate a shipmate and not expect ridicule and denigration yourself.
  1. Take care of your shipmates. Don’t leave a shipmate behind, and keep an eye out for him and he will keep an eye out for you.

.   11. Help your shipmate to his rack when he’s drunk. Help him clean himself up and                     make it to quarters on time. He’ll do the same for you when circumstances require it.

  1. If you borrow something, return it, in better condition than when you received it. If you break it return a new one.
  1. Punctuality! Be on time – always, for everything. Need to say nothing more on this subject.
  1. Don’t make a lot of noise in berthing; your shipmates may be sleeping.
  1. Don’t be a slacker – pull your own weight. Do the work you are supposed to do and do whatever you promise to do. Help your shipmates.
  1. Be confident, but don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. And don’t be afraid to go learn what you don’t know because there will come another time when you will need it.
  1. Life in the Navy isn’t fair – get used to it. Actually, life anywhere isn’t fair. If you follow these suggestions, it will make life a bit better in and out of the Navy.


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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.


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