Sometimes it's hard to believe that more than 26 years have passed since I joined the Navy. What began as a four-year adventure has turned into a passionate and fulfilling career of service. I joined the Navy primarily to "get out of town," to do something different from my high school buddies. I was never much for following the crowd or the well-worn path. I had a sense of adventure, and the Navy seemed like a great starting place.
The military lifestyle was a good fit. My parents had instilled in me a solid foundation of core values and discipline, which made the transition from civilian to Sailor relatively easy. I was raised on an Illinois farm and learned early in life what hard work was and to start the day at 0400. My father's admonition that "anything worth doing is worth doing right and deserves full effort," was on the mark. I applied his advice to every assignment I received, no matter how insignificant or unimportant it may have seemed. Dedication, commitment, and performance resulted in opportunities. Before long—within what seemed a short 15 years—I climbed the advancement ladder as a hospital corpsman from E1 to E9.