Today was the day.
I woke up this morning, still just a plain old civilian. I brushed my teeth, shaved, and went to Starbucks, because as we all know, the key to any successful day is (and here I use a saying I haven’t used in a long time) one word, two syllables, six letters – COFFEE.
I had my coffee, came back home and got dressed, and then went over to the Sundance Plaza Hotel to pick up Dad and Uncle Bill. The Sundance Plaza apparently really misses me and wishes I would come back and work there. I have no plans to do so, but it’s nice to know I’m wanted.
Anyway, I dropped Dad and Uncle Bill off by Wait Chapel, and then went to park the Dodge off campus (I want no part of a $250 parking citation). Once I got back to Wait, I called my recruiter, and he and the commissioning officer (the VERY young-looking Ensign Veatch) came over from Reynolda Hall.
Then I did paperwork. Lots of paperwork. At once point, Petty Officer Green apologized for all of it, and I said, “Ah, this is just new hire paperwork. I used to make people do this ALL THE TIME.”
By the time I was done with that, quite the crowd had gathered. My roommates Suzie and Pradyu were there, as well as two of my friends who I met through Suzie, Nathan and Molly. Mike and Kathy, Claudia, Cheryl, and Bob were there as the contingent from First Christian Church. And Wake Div was quite well represented – Ashley, Carter, Patrick, Jeremy, Zac, Alex (and his wife Alison), Baylee, John, Terry, Paula, and Cindy, as well as Jon’s wife Angela, and JoAnn from the Dean’s office.
We started things off with Petty Officer Green saying a few words about what it takes to get into the Navy – especially officer programs – and how he was particularly impressed by the dedication I showed in dropping sixty pounds since he first met me.
And then, we moved on to the reason why so many of my fellow Wake Div students and several members of First Christian were there, and why Uncle Bill had driven down from Baltimore, and Dad had flown out from Phoenix.
“…and do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.”
And that was that.
Then Ensign Veatch handed me my commissioning orders, which are quite ornate, are mounted in a nice frame, and read as follows:
“THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
To all who shall see these presents, greeting:
Know ye that, reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of JAMES MICHAEL GAWNE JR, I do appoint him an
Ensign, United States Navy (as a Reserve Officer)
to rank as such from the twenty-sixth day of July two thousand and eleven. This officer will therefore carefully and diligently discharge the duties of the office to which appointed by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging.
And I do strictly charge and require those officers and other personnel of lesser rank to render such obedience as is due an officer of this grade and position. And this officer is to observe and follow such orders and directions, from time to time, as may be given by the President of the United States of America, or other superior officers acting in accordance with the laws of the United States of America.
This commission is to continue in force during the pleasure of the President of the United States of America under the provisions of those public laws relating to officers of the Armed Forces of the United States of America and the component thereof in which this appointment is made.
Done in the City of Washington, this eleventh day of July in the year of our Lord two thousand and eleven of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred an thirty fifth.
By the President, Barack H. Obama
Mark E. Ferguson III
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy
Chief of Naval Personnel
Secretary of the Navy”
The rest of the day went by quickly – lunch, take Dad to Greensboro Airport, go out for a celebratory beer with Suzie, Adam, Molly, Carter, and Anna.
AND SO IT WAS… morning, and evening, the seventeenth day of August, 2011. And I became an officer.