hqdefaultOn a Monday morning in early September, 1988, I began the check-in process at NSGD Monterey.

I had just graduated from boot camp in San Diego and was off to “A” school at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA.  Decked out in my dress blues holding a thick manila envelope containing my service and medical records, I proceeded downstairs to first deck of building 629 to begin the check-in process.  I was standing in the passageway with my roommate trying to get my bearings, when we were summarily summoned by the Command Senior Chief.   “You two.  Come over here.”  We hustled down to the quarterdeck where the Senior Chief was standing.  “Stand here at parade rest,” he said.  “Come to attention when called.”  We quickly complied, wondering what we had done wrong.

As we waited, I started to look around.  We were standing on the command’s quarterdeck.  A podium was set up to our left and a Chief and two Petty Officers were posted across from us.  A few minutes later, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) stepped onto the quarterdeck and took station behind the podium.  After conferring momentarily with the Chief and two Petty Officers, he donned his combination cover and we were called to attention.  The Master at Arms instructed a Sailor to enter and report.  Once complete, the OIC read a list of charges, most of which involved the unauthorized, and colorful, use of alcohol. Apparently, this Sailor had a penchant for drinking and getting into trouble.  The Chief and Petty Officers were given an opportunity to comment, followed by the Sailor being charged.  Finally, the OIC spoke, expressing his displeasure for his actions  before delivering his punishment — dismissal from “A” school and transfer to “the Fleet.”

Now keep in mind, I had been in the Navy for approximately 60 days.  All of that time had been spent in boot camp, followed by a short 3-day liberty in San Diego prior to arriving in Monterey.  I had never witnessed a mast, and really wasn’t sure what “the Fleet” was all about.  Regardless, witnessing the short proceedings it was immediately clear to me that I didn’t want to find myself in that Sailor’s shoes.

The proceedings complete, the Senior Chief sent us on our way to commence our check-in.  “Any questions,” Senior asked.  “No, Senior Chief, no questions.”  The Senior Chief’s intentions were clear.  He wanted us to witness a mast so we understood the consequences of misconduct.  Lesson learned — on day one of “A” school.