Plan A died in August of 2003, but it did not die in vain. Like most people under twenty, my knowledge base was limited acquired primarily through books, movies or second hand account. I knew that I was naïve, but I also knew that the Navy would broaden my perspective… I just could not have predicted how.
Part Two of Four
My first cruise showed me how magnificently beautiful the world could be, yet it also revealed the ugliness of that world – the destruction and devastation of the world. In early 1999 the Frank Cable was fortunate enough to assist the UN in a humanitarian mission in East Timor. Revolution had ended an Indonesian occupation, but it had also left behind a lot of rubble. Essentially a floating repair shop, the Cable and its personnel were able to purify drinking water, provide medical and dental exams, repair damaged utilities and manufacture furnishings for offices and schools and more in just a few short weeks. In return, East Timor gave me a true sense of how precious Freedom is; also how steep a price is paid for that freedom.
The isolation of the ocean taught me self-reliance; after all, calling 911 in an emergency won’t help when the closest land is hundreds of miles away. As a result I experienced the awesome weight of being responsible for the life of another. At the same time, I felt comforted because I knew my life was in good hands, I was not alone.
I discovered that it is, in fact, possible to know thirteen hundred people – not just their names, but their personalities and idiosyncrasies. It is even possible to view them all as family … and that the loss of one member could bring that family to its knees. I discovered one individual can also comfort the many and help them heal.
I learned that a great leader does not demand to be followed. They drop back and carry those who can no longer carry themselves, and that ability, confidence and flexibility are qualities not defined by rank.