Decisions, Decisions by Grin & Barrett
As a reformed squid, people always ask me why I chose the Army over the Navy when I made the decision to leave behind civilian life and come back to military service. Often, I am left muttering to my other personality, twitching uncontrollably, and wondering the same thing myself. After a few brief moments of self reflection, however, I usually come out of my trance and offer some semblance of a reason. Some folks can’t quite wrap their minds around the idea that I would choose the Army over the Navy, and usually they have some pretty valid reasons why they think I made a huge mistake.
“Why didn’t you go back into the Navy? Army life sucks!”
Typically, the aforementioned “Army life sucks” comments are bracketed by the stuttering that comes with sleeping in the cold, eating cold MREs, and waking up at 0300 for watch. When you are dealing with someone who is currently enduring this level of suck, it’s hard to argue your point. When these comments come from a place like Iraq or Afghanistan, you are fighting a losing battle. It doesn’t help my argument when most Navy bases are surrounded by sun, beach, and bikinis, and there is a very alluring, certain “Hollywood” that goes with being in the Navy. Aircraft carriers, submarines, and Navy SEALs. All very cool.
After three years of civilian life, I had to make a choice. Army vs. Navy. The only real possibilities I had in the Navy were as a Supply Officer or a Navigation Officer, not exactly my first choices. But it wasn’t the branch choices that made my decision so hard; it was the essence of Army life versus Navy life. And so, without further ado, I present to you the top five reasons to “Go Navy” and the top five reasons to “Leave Navy.”
Top Five Reasons to “Go Navy”
1. Port calls. This one is too easy. Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Australia, Japan, and Israel. Basically, anywhere awesome. What exotic locals will you visit in the Army? Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. No contest.
2. The JAG factor. The Army has a long way to go to match wits with the Marines and Navy in the media. Coolest military recruitment commercials = Marines. Best recruitment exploitation in the movies and television = Navy. This one really is a no brainer. Top Gun, A Few Good Men, Navy SEALS, JAG, NCIS. Don’t get me wrong, there are some GREAT Army movies, but they don’t seem to become pop culture like the Navy movies do. Who sings, “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling?” Is it Tom Cruise or The Righteous Brothers? If you had to think longer than half a second on that one, you just made my point.
3. Everyone wants to visit a carrier. Politicians, athletes, movie stars, and musicians all flock to see Aircraft Carriers when they are in port. They really are that cool. From sitting presidents and mega-stars to that guy from the movie “Speed” whose convertible Keanu Reeves uses while chasing the bus, they all want to visit.
4. Port calls. Did I mention Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Australia, Japan, and Israel? Israeli girls are wicked hot. (Side note, Israeli Army chicks = Hot Ranger Up girls, just an idea…)
5. Annual Army/Navy game. I know all the West Point graduates are seething in rage as I say this, but come on, Army football sucks. The only great football player to come from West Point since Pete Dawkins is….wait for it….wait for it….crickets….
Top Five Reasons to “Leave Navy”
1. The Dining Facility. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, segregation still exists in America today. On Navy vessels, you have one chow hall for E-6 and below, the Chief’s Mess for E-7 through E-9, and finally the Officer’s Mess. No mingling allowed, enlisted DO NOT eat with officers, and officers are not allowed in enlisted messes.
2. Staterooms. Cram 120 Sailors into a space that would normally fit 20, stack them in bunks three high, stuff their belongings in the very limited space under their mattresses, and you have the enlisted berthing area. Take a room that w
ould fit about 20 Sailors, provide spacious beds, desks, and wall-lockers, and you have a two-man officer’s room. Things that make you go hmmmmm.
3. Priorities. In the Army, officers and senior NCOs eat last, go on pass last, and are (supposed to anyway) first in when the day starts, and last to leave when the day ends. This is the complete reverse order in the Navy. On port calls, the most junior Sailors on the last one off the ship, and the first ones back on. They have the longest lines for haircuts, PX (NEX) access, and chow. Officers and Chiefs have head of the line privilege for all the aforementioned items.
4. Bathroom segregation. Yeah, back to the segregation thing. Separate bathrooms for enlisted and officers. To completely pour salt in this wound, junior Sailors clean the officer bathrooms.
5. Uniforms. In the Army, I get to wear ACUs and dress blues. In the Navy, I had dungarees and “Cracker Jacks.” This is another one of those no-contest-why-did-I-even-bother-to-compare items.
There you have it, top five reasons to go/stay Navy. If you are ever faced with this situation yourself, please feel free to print out, and use this article for your own decision making process. Or, feel free to simply print out and put on your dart board. Either way, I hope it’s helpful.