Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A couple of things about caring for Sailors that I learned at my first command - 1977-1979

Learning is a lifelong process.   "Stop learning - stop living" someone wise once told me.  First commands offer an incredible and long-lasting learning experience if you really pay attention.  I like to think that I did pay attention.

Some of the leadership best practices I picked up from then Captain James S. McFarland (a career long mentor and later-in-life friend):

- When Sailors reported to the command, he wrote letters to the parents letting them know that their son/daughter had arrived safely in a very distant Misawa, Japan and that his officers and Chiefs would take care of them.  Commands which make this time are remembered long after the Sailor departs.  Some commands have the Department Head or Executive Officer do this.

- Most Sailors were sent to the Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa photo lab for their "official Navy photo".  Little did the Sailors know that the CO actually sent these photos back to the parents.  Captain McFarland also sent a copy of my Sailor of the Quarter (SOQ) photo to my parents, as well - along with a copy of "The Misawan" newspaper's SOQ announcement.  Sent in 1979, my family still has these.  Getting a photo of their Sailor means a lot to parents.  If you doubt it, ask a parent!

1 comment:

HMS Defiant said...

My mother used to ask me why I never sat for a photo and sent it to her to sit on her dresser alongside my father's. How does a modern officer tell his mom that he's seen the light and won't go into it. I kept telling her, "ever notice how any time a serviceman dies there is always this beautiful photo of him in uniform for the press and tv?" "Me? I'm not going to sit for a photo and so, I'm not going to die."

It worked.

OTOH, my parents didn't hear from me for 6 months after I went to first ship in the Gulf and sent the captain a Red Cross telegram asking him to please have me write or call them.

Silly parents.