After I graduated from high school, I was making good money painting houses, my girlfriend was cool with a rockin' little bod, and I partied almost every night. But after a year or so, I started to wonder: "If someone wrote a book about my life, would anyone want to read it?"
I wanted discipline and training, but I didn't want to give up my hard-rockin' lifestyle. Where, I wondered, could that elusive combination of rigid authoritarian structure and unbridled monster power chords be found? Then I saw a commercial for the U.S. Navy. That's when I knew what to do with my life.
And guess what? The U.S. Navy fucking kicks ass, dude. From the time we're awoken at 06:00 by System Of A Down or Disturbed till we drift off to sleep to an instrumental guitar version of "Taps" performed by Zakk Wylde, it's a nonstop rock block.
How do I even begin to describe the constant barrage of adrenaline-fueled, over-the-top kick-assitude that is the U.S. Navy? Every day is like a rapid-fire montage sequence of high-tech action and thrill-ride imagery that makes your fuckin' head spin.
One minute, I'm crouched on the deck of an aircraft carrier barking something into a helmet-mounted headset that you can't even friggin' hear because the music's so loud. Next, I'm dashing through the Mojave under the weight of a large pack and jumping out of a helicopter into the ocean wearing some kind of James Bond one-man submersible scuba suit. If I'm not roarin' down the high seas with the wind in my hair and 800 pounds of rad-ass Batman shit strapped to my uniform, I'm standing at perfect attention in my dress whites, fucking whippin' a sword around like I'm a goddamn samurai master.
Even basic training was an edgy, quick-cut mosaic of running and climbing and shooting and learning and Pantera riffs. There was this rad obstacle course we did twice a day carrying sandbags, and when you did it, it was like you could feel yourself morph from an average guy into one of the sword-carrying knights of old. I may not have slain actual dragons, but when I came out, I looked just like Iron Man, and my father was very impressed with the changes that he saw in me.
Serving aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Linkin Park, which is just about the most hardcore carrier in the fleet, I spend the morning working on high-tech projects like blowing up long-range sea targets with giant artillery guns. In the afternoon, it's firing missiles, Tomahawks, and torpedoes into the sea. And my nights? Getting valuable intel off our way-advanced radar screens. That's when I don't dart off in a super-fast motorboat in full frogman gear to train in underwater demolition and special ops, emerging from the water at sunrise.
But there's also these quieter moments that really put things in perspective. Usually, it's when me and my multiethnic buddies are coming back from a long, kick-ass day, and we experience an unspoken moment of camaraderie. The music shifts to a power ballad, and we take a minute before the American flag to gaze in silence at the epic sunset. When I glance at my friends' chiseled faces and see their quiet pride and masculinity, I realize that I made the right choice. Sometimes, we're joined by a flying eagle, but the eagle isn't a pet of ours, it just kind of appears superimposed behind us like 50 feet tall when things get patriotic.
I gotta admit, though, as much as the Navy rocks out with its cocks out, I'm not sure if I'll be making a permanent career out of it. Sometimes, when I'm flying around in my F/A-18 Hornet, I imagine myself morphing out of my action gear into a three-piece suit heading up my own Fortune 500 company which I built on the skills the Navy taught me.
When I get shore leave and go home to visit my family and old friends, they can't hide their pride. As the background music slows to a stately march, my normally hard-as-nails dad salutes me and shakes my hand with tears in his eyes.
I'm sure glad that I didn't join the Marines. All those guys seem to do is climb sheer mountain faces with their bare hands.