What does being a Veteran mean to Owner Mark Johnston
I was an officer on a couple of nuclear powered submarines. One of my favorite ways to describe it is 90% boredom and 10% terror. The terror part comes from the 3 sessions of drills we ran each week. We would practice for all kinds of casualties, fires, flooding and far more complex ones. Being the Engineering Officer of the Watch, I had to learn to get the Immediate Actions done and then get inputs from the senior enlisted guys on how to stabilize and then recover. You quickly learned all the guys knew their own stuff. You learn to ask a couple questions and then, trust them to implement their plan for recovery and provide you with updates as they progressed. Afterward, the Drill Team listed our every mistake. Not things we could have done better. Either we were right or we had made a mistake. I did not always like that clarity but, it made me become better. When we came back for the next watch, we would harass each other over the mistakes that were made and how we could prevent them next time.
For me being a Veteran means trust. Know who you can trust and how good they are at what they do. In time, I qualified as an Officer of the Deck. I could take the submarine from the deep and go to periscope depth. The Commanding Officer had entrusted me with the lives of his crew and an exceptionally expensive submarine.
Every submariner earns his Dolphins by learning all of the mechanical systems hand over hand, passing interviews and a qualification board. None of them was quick or easy. The rigorous process assured each of us that those who wore the Dolphins could be trusted with our life.