Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Real good post over at JO RULES HERE.

Several good points in there worth considering.  As a "PRIOR" myself, I've seen all the things he's talking about and probably have been guilty of at least one offending behavior.  In fairness to "PRIORS", I have seen equally disruptive and counter-productive behaviors by officers from all other commissioning sources (USNA, NJROTC, DCS, and OCS).  Thankfully, no one commissioning source really has the monopoly and produces a higher percent of jackasses than any other (though many would disagree - you're probably one of the offending jackasses) per capita.  I think we can all agree LDOs and Warrants are the worst !

More AWESOMENESS from my Shipmate Jeff Bacon HERE.

And here is some info from one of my Shipmates from NSGD Atsugi circa 1980s.  Robert E. Morrison and another mustang, Bill Calderwood, were the best COMEVALs we had:

            I really liked your recent blog post on “Priors”.  Making that transition is always tough, especially in a small closed community like the Naval Security Group was.  Detailers would always try to transfer a newly commissioned mustang a considerable distance from his former duty station, but in a small community one had a reputation which proceeded arrival at the new command.
            When I was selected for LDO there was no knife and fork school.  I walked into the CO’s office a First Class and walked out as an Ensign.  The commissioning ceremony was in whites.  The next morning I got up, unwrapped my new khakis, and realized I didn’t know how to pin the bars on!  I had to find a copy of All Hands Magazine to see a picture.  The advantage of being an LDO was I knew where to look.  This same principle applied throughout the remainder of my career.  The enlisted experience for NSG officers was extremely important, that is why so many of our officers (not just LDO/CWO) had enlisted service as CT’s of some branch.  There wasn’t any civilian school that taught cryptology, consequently a good portion of our officers rose from the ranks.  Further proof is the way they detailed LDOs, that is interchangeably with 1610 officers.  This was not the case in many other LDO communities.
            Being a mustang had some other advantages, one of which was a more mature outlook on the Navy.  When I got to Atsugi I was a very junior Ensign (about 3-4 months in grade), but I wasn’t really interested in playing Bull Ensign for 2 years, and I made that known.  Wasn’t so much of a problem within NSGD, but I had a little trouble convincing some of the VQ J.O.’s, until one day when I showed up in uniform at the club for lunch.  One particular protagonist looked at my ribbons, and said something to the effect of “You have a lot of ribbons!”  My response was “That’s the difference between an Ensign and an LDO”.   I had no problems after that.  Having spent some time with the Q in Da Nang, I was able to relate better with the senior pilots and sevals.  The J.O.s were about 4 years behind me experience wise.
            The hardest part of transitioning was having to distance myself from friends who had been close associates while I was enlisted.  That included nearly all the enlisted crew at Atsugi, who were for the most part CTI’s, many of whom I had been stationed with before.  The reverse is also true, in that some of them surely thought (with good reason) that I had been a mediocre I-brancher at best, so why would I be any better as an officer.  Like any job, it took me a while to figure it out, but in the end I figured out how to make it work.  Atsugi was nice in another way.  It was a small detachment, and rather informal.  One didn’t have to wait for feedback, and I had easy access to the top.  It lacked the structure of a wardroom like Misawa, but I really enjoyed the chance to get established without getting lost in the grass.
            When I did make it to the fleet (as an Outboard officer), I was lucky enough to be assigned to a wardroom that was mustang heavy.  At one point three of four department heads were mustangs, and we had six LDO’s and two CWO’s out of approximately 30 officers total.  Some of the other JO’s were mustangs as well.  We drove our XO (who was a Real Naval Officer – Annapolis 3rd Generation) nuts!  We also did very well on deployment, thanks to a very talented enlisted crew and officers who knew how to get out of the way.
            If I had to put my finger on one thing most important for the transition, it would be to be a professional at all times.  My advice to someone newly commissioned from the ranks (at least in the old NSG) would have been something to the effect of “you have a special education (via your enlisted training) that your USNA/OCS/ROTC peers don’t have.  It’s your responsibility to train them and get them up to speed.  Make them your equal in the shortest possible time.”  Those who followed that adage became part of a team, rather than the strong link in a weak chain.
            Know I’ve kind of rambled here, but I wanted to weigh in, and this was too long to post.  Notice that I have used the term “mustang” throughout.  Mustang is the traditional Navy term for anyone (not just LDO/CWO) commissioned from the ranks.  I’m not crazy about the term “priors”, most people with priors have a long criminal record.
            Hope you and yours are all doing well.  Warm regards, Bob


CWO4 Brian Ashpole, USN-Retired said...

Great Post.

I sincerely hope that I was never "that guy" and was a learner as well as a teacher to the Ensigns I had the priveledge to work with throughout my commissioned years.

As a CWO it was obvious as to my past. There were times that I would growl, however, you get more done by poring oil on the gears than you do using salt or sawdust.

The best advise I ever received from a Department Head was "get educated" and you alone are responsible for your "training." I got educated (SIU grad) and never turned down a training opportunity.

Whenever the word was passed to assemble all JOs not on watch on the Bridge, CIC, or CCS, I was there. The CO/XO would not have said anything if I hadn't shown up, but that was not the point.

Every officer, regardless of commissioning source has a lot to learn at evey level. Failure to participate is failure to lead, learn, and grow as a professional.

Mike Lambert said...

Thanks Brian!

Dean said...

Jeff Bacon weighed in on CWOs on his Broadside for 29 Oct:


That Jeff Bacon is one awesome blogger!

Kevin said...

Not a prior myself, but the absolute best Bull Ensign I've ever seen was an LDO at Maryland. Using his prior experience, he had the situational awareness to know when to speak up and when to shut up. Knowing when to joke with the XO and when to be quiet and listen is a valuable skill that comes with experience.

Since then, every eligible prior has refused the title of Bull Ensign. I feel like the wardroom is cheated every time.

Anonymous said...

Had similar experiences as Bob Morrison's: commissioned from first class to Ensign, although we had knife and fork school in the mid-80s, filled 1610 billets at sea and in leadership positions.

Wouldn't change a thing.

Agree with his recommendations about the transition. It was important to become an integral member of the Wardroom and part of accomplishing that was working relatioships with the non-Mustang JOs.

A different opinion I have is about being the Bull. I understand what Kevin said about having an LDO in that position. I did it as a member of the Wardroom, had fun, and got some things done with / for the other JOs.

Anonymous said...

enjoyed the read from Bob.