Sunday, September 21, 2008

Guest Blog Post - Bill Leighty

Day 2

At 14:23 local time (that is 2:23 in the afternoon local time and 8:23 am eastern time for you non military types) we arrived on the Island of Crete, Greece. Our landing field was Naval Support Activity Souda Bay. We arrived three hours ahead of schedule because we were able to skip refueling in the Azores (Portugal).

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant overlooking the beach on the Sea of Crete (Southern Aegean Sea). Our speaker was Admiral (four star) Mark P. Fitzgerald.  He commands all naval activity in Europe and also has considerable responsibilities with NATO. His talk was detailed and very informative. While there are about 45 of us on the trip the dinner group was well over 80 people. Also with us were many of the sailors and airmen from NSA Souda Bay. The organizers of this trip are making a real effort to give those of us on the trip an opportunity to interact directly with the troops.

At one point one of the participants, a woman, asked a young Marine that is travelling with us, "How did get such a great assignment?" With the typical Marine strict straight faced posture he replied, "Well ma’am, the Marines are very particular about their image and for that reason alone they select only their most handsome Marines for these assignments!" He never smiled, leaving a definite punctuation mark that the statement must be true.

But talking to these young men and women is compelling. Their personal stories of what motivated them to join, and to stay, despite the demands placed upon them is inspiring to say the least. The level of responsibility they hold and the type of work they do at their amazingly young ages is mind boggling. In fact, the level of responsibility they hold is a common theme in why many of them have chosen to stay.  They understand that in the
private sector they never would be given the kind of opportunities to command and direct such large operations. Yet when they get out and come home, our society and our employers do not recognize, well enough, the tempered and tested value they bring to the table.

It is 4:30 am here and I am up and excited about the day before me. In fact my mind is spiraling upward at the prospect of what the day will bring.

Yassou,  Bill

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