July 22nd – I’m walking around all day – trying to figure out the significance of the day…I knew that something was special about the day, but I couldn’t remember why.
July 23rd – Whilst (yes whilst) driving to work I remembered that the 22nd of July marked my 14th year in the U.S. Navy….I was saddened when I realized that I was now that old Chief that couldn’t even remember his Navy B-day. With all of that being said – I would like to recap my last 14 years – normally this recap is done during retirements but I want to share with family and friends my experiences and stuff…..yeah…..and stuff.
Here goes nothing…
July 22, 1999: Ken Bradley shows up to Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, IL – at bootcamp i was the RPOC and i suffered many push-ups because of it. I got meritoriously advanced due to my leadership position.
September 1999: RMSN (Radioman Seaman) Bradley shows up to Naval Training Center, Great Lakes to learn communications – I learned a lot but knew that that was not a field i wanted to continue in. Our RM “A” school class was the last one ever…and we started the IT (Information Systems Technician) curriculum – bored to death with all of this tech-talk – I requested to cross-rate to be a Yeoman (YN) or basically a paper-pusher (but with much more swag)
November 1999 – Ken goes to Meridian, MS and learns to be a YN – not much to say here…well I could speak on the ridiculously huge mosquitos but I’ll digress.
January 2000-2003: YNSN Bradley reports to Yokosuka, Japan on the USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC 19) onboard the RIDGE I visited Hong Kong and Shanghai, China; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur; Pattaya Beach, Thailand; Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Cairns, Sydney, Australia; Vladivostok, Russia (which was my fave port of all time); Chinhae, Korea and various parts of Japan. I picked up YN3(SW) while i was there and I wanted to stay overseas….so next..
2003-2006: AFSOUTH (Allied Forces South) Naples, Italy was the next stop – completely changing theatres – and I tell you the culture shock was a major one – becoming used to Japan and then transitioning to Italian culture – hard deal even as an American…but I fell in love with the food, the clothes and Naples became and still is one my most favorite parts of the world. We traveled to Switzerland often to invade the swiss alps in January and also visited Germany and Greece as well – Rome was a frequent stop to just get ice cream (i know…be very jealous) I worked for 3 different 4-star Admirals and met some people there that had great impact on me. I picked up YN2 while I was there and wanted to stay challenged…so next…
2006-2011 – YN2(SW) Bradley showed up to the quarterdeck of the Navy and that’s back to Recruit Training Command in Illinois – I went as an RDC – worked out of Ship 6 and due to injuries didn’t remain one long at all…I got my Small Arms Marksmanship Cert and became a certified Marksmanship instructor with the 9mm. There were many accomplishments at RTC that I won’t go into because that stuff is not important…lets just say that place (the range) had one of thee best Chief’s Mess that has operated in the Navy – they made me want to be a Chief! I found my mentor here Master Chief Barry Tunstall- in 2011 I FINALLY picked up YN1..with 2 years left before I hit high-year tenure….now it was time to go back to sea and lead as a YN1.
2011-2013 – At sea SHIPSEC/LPO tour onboard the USS NEW ORLEANS (LPD 18) AKA “The Mighty NOL” or the “BIG EASY” – the great AMPHIB Navy – out of sunny San Diego, California – some of my hardest times in the Navy was spent on her. I picked up my 2nd mentor (my sea momma) Senior Chief Rikki Brown – he led in a stern yet caring manner – an amazing person. I picked up Chief onboard the Big Easy…love my brothers I got inducted with and I’ll never forget the times on there.
2013 – Present: I left the NEW ORLEANS due to a foot injury and had surgery – in the interim I found out i got picked up to be commissioned as a Naval Officer as an Limited Duty Officer (LDO) – a mighty-mighty MUSTANG! – i get commissioned in 2014 and then the story will continue. I now work at the Fleet Weather Center with a bunch of really smart people – and a great Chief’s Mess that is really showing me how to be a Chief – and for them I am grateful –
the story will continue – Lord willing…and I love serving and they’re going to have to kick me out – hopefully one day I can be a Commanding Officer…a place where statistically speaking a little kid from the housing projects is not supposed to be.