Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Redemption through remediation

An honorable retirement as a PO1 after 20 years Service.
Sailors are everything to our great Navy.  I have cared deeply for all of my Sailors, though some required some really "tough love" to see their own limitless potential and then pursue it.  The Sailor in this photo with me was one of my "tough love" Sailors.  Our best communicator at the time, he was persistently and predictably late.  Verbal counseling, threats from his Chief, written counseling from his division officer and chiding from the Executive Officer - nothing worked.  Three months from retirement he appeared before me at Captain's Mast.  All because he repeated;y chose not to come to work on time. The punishment was severe, reduction from E-6 to E-5 and a healthy fine.  20 years in the Navy and forced to retire as an E-5!

Fortunately, the story has a better ending than that.  That Captain's Mast and the personal mentoring that followed turned things around for this Sailor and others who were headed in the same direction.  The Sailor changed his behavior and became a better example for his peers and subordinates.  A week before his retirement, I reinstated him to E-6.  He earned it back and in the intervening years, has turned his life completely around.  He's Vice President for IT at one of the world's finest banks.


Anonymous said...

A great story, Mike. And proof that our "zero defect" policy in the Navy isn't necessarily the best course of action.

James Hammersla said...

While enlisted in the Marine Corps, I was subject to NJP and afterwards was pretty down on myself. An outstanding leader, First Sergeant and overall Marine had a sit down with me on how to get myself back on track. I regained my Corporal chevrons, then kept going and eventually was commissioned as a Naval Officer. I owe my recovery to that talk from my First Sergeant who plainly laid out that I had 3 ½ years left on that enlistment, and it was up to me what to do with it. 18 years later I still keep in touch out of a great deal of loyalty, respect and gratitude.

I have had Sailors who were the recipients of Captain’s Mast & earnestly believe when people make mistakes they should be held accountable. If you want some insight into their character, look how they handle themselves AFTER the incident.

Jim Murphy said...

@Anon 6:18 AM - Remove the word "necessarily" from your comment and your spot on.

@James Hammersla. - HERE HERE Exactly! Given the opportunity to overcome my own deficiencies and mistakes, I was able to prove some people wrong, some people right, and continue a rewarding and (hopefully) productive career.

Anonymous said...

the zero defect policy is for leaders afraid to lead. If it was not for people like SC Paul Aubee and CMC Bubba Owens, I would have retired a first class. I hope that I helped a few along the way who had a few minor issues that now-a-days we blow up and blame everyone else for. Leadership is essential to identifying future leaders and adversity sometimes is tbe best challenge for a potential leader.
we were all young once

Unleash Enthusiasm Here! said...

I know more than my share of sailors who had disastrous career events and turned out pretty damn good.
Five colleagues from my first tour in 1985 were commissioned, I know that at least three of us went to mast or at least XOI at one point or another, all of us should have at one point or another. The underlying factor for eventual success is as varied as we are. The likely thread involved a combination of personal guile and stubbornness, and a Chief, JO, or other senior who took the time to see beyond the rebellious hair tucked over the ears and under the cover, beyond the drinking that had more to do with boredom than illness, beyond the failed MIL-LEAD exam, and the multiple “passed but not advanced” reports, and other marks of failure. They stopped long enough to listen and observe before rebuking and that made all the difference.

You may recall, a training movie something about the "first 72 hours" in which a Admiral lements what happens to one of his sailors within the first three days aboard his ship was he was an ensign DIVO. I search but I can't find it, I think it was Burke, but I am not sure. Someone out there will remember the film, it was shown to me serveral times in the late 80s.

Thank-you Mike for the reminder.

Robert Maguire said...

Simply put (always a plus for me), just be a shipmate to your shipmates and all will work out.

I had a PO2 who worked for me on a deployment who had a bit of a problem with keeping off the booze. He was an outstanding CTI, but he just wouldn't toe the line. I was the first guy to hold his feet to the fire, but I also made sure that he had access to things like AA. Heck, I even went to a meeting with him since I'm a long time member myself! That was an experience to go to a meeting overseas, I can tell you.

I ended up sending him home cause he just didn't get it, but I was glad to hear from him years later when he thanked me for holding him accountable. He went to a successful career as an officer.

I like to think I was a shipmate helping a shipmate.