Monday, March 02, 2009

Honor, Courage, and Commitment.



I have always considered myself very lucky to have been born and raised in the United States of America. I have been thinking a lot lately about the things I take for granted. For instance, I have never, ever gone hungry. I have always had a roof over my head, and growing up, I had access to a top-flight education.

I can say and write what I feel inside without fear of reprisals. I can worship in my own way. I am protected by the rule of law and under the provisions set forth in the United States Constitution. I can cast a ballot for the leadership I believe in. I can follow my career path and make myself into what I have always wanted to be-- an Actor, a Writer, a Director; I fashion myself into what I wish to be: Someone who tells stories for a living, giving people the opportunity to escape, reflect, and see themselves from a different perspective. I can own my own property, and no one can take it away from me.

Most importantly, I am free to be myself.

My shelves are full of books. My refrigerator is stocked with food. My mind and soul are comforted by the knowledge that I have a strong, diverse network of close friends and an incredibly large, wonderfully supportive family. I am part of a wonderful community.

I am the luckiest man I know.

I have always felt that I owe something to this country for the blessings it has bestowed on me. Now I am going to attempt to repay that debt in a very small way. That is why on September 1st, 2009, I will travel to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, to begin training to become a Sailor in The United States Navy Reserve.

I wanted to join the Navy when I was in College, but didn't. After my junior year, I was ready to go. A friend of mine talked to me about the importance of "finishing what you start", and so I finished college and immediately started working in the entertainment business. Somewhere along the line, the Navy got lost in the vast network of roads not taken. Now, some fourteen years later, I am giving myself the opportunity to finally do it, forging a new path in service to my friends, family and community.

I have already told several people about this decision, and--while the news has usually been met with stunned disbelief--the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

When do you leave and how long will you be gone?

I leave September 1st for eight weeks of recruit training in Great Lakes Illinois. After that, I will spend eight More weeks at Class 'A' Technical School in Meridian, Mississippi. I will learn what I need to know to become a Logistics Specialist in the US Navy. My primary duties will involve supply movements. My Rating (Job Title) will be StoreKeeper, or 'SK.'

What is your commitment? For how long?

My commitment is for Eight years-- Six active in the Reserve, drilling one weekend a month and two weeks per year, then two years on 'Individual Ready reserve' status, or 'Standby' mode, whereupon I may be called to serve at any time.

Will you be deployed overseas? For how long?

The short answer is, yes, at some point, although I'm not sure. I am actually thinking of volunteering to go IA, which stands for 'Individual Augmentee', where Navy Personnel fill needs of various branches, regardless of Rating. One may find oneself driving trucks or filling in as undesignated manpower for the Army, Air Force, or Marines.

What does this mean for your Acting career?

We shall see. The drilling schedule is printed a year in advance, and if Local Theatres are willing to work with me and give me an understudy, things should run very smoothly. If anything, my participation in Navy Operations and the need for an understudy may be a way to 'Create Jobs' in the Theatre!! In the meantime, I am thinking very hard about creating my own material-- autobiographical stuff-- which I can do anytime, anywhere, 'a la Slash Coleman.'

You have your college degree-- why didn't you go in as an Officer?

It isn't that simple, actually. While I do have a 4-year degree, it isn't a very competitive degree for OCS (Officer candidate school) selection... especially not in the Reserves. There are no 'Theatre Officers.' However, I am thinking long-term, and the surest way to attempt to become a Navy Public Affairs Officer is to first be able to present a solid Navy record. In other words, can leadership look at me and say "This guy went in enlisted at thirty-five; he has a college degree and look at his performance record, etc." Am I reliable? Responsible? Do I have leadership qualities? Is my OCS package competitive? Basically, I want to do the best job possible in my current rating. Then worry about what comes next.

Did your participation in SEAL Team drive you to enlist?

I'd be lying if I said no. Through SEAL Team, I have been fortunate to meet some of the best, brightest, most inspiring folks around. People like John McGuire and his brother, Rusty, both of whom have served their country with distinction. Several others in SEAL Team have served, or serve currently, including several young men-- Like the 18-Year Old 'Human Dynamo' Hardy Reichel-- who ae on their way to places like West Point and beyond. Being around that kind of dedication day in & day out definitely rubs off on you. And while SEAL Team has provided me with inspiration, it is also preparing me both physically and mentally to meet the challenges of recruit training. When i told John McGuire that I leave for RTC in September, he smiled and said "Oh, man, you're gonna CRUSH it." I am seriously going to run those 18-year old kids into the ground.

What else inspired you to enlist?

My family. because I love them very much. I'm doing this for my Mother & Father, Bebop & Nanny, Jimmy & Judy, Charles & Margaret, Jan & Stu, Uncle Michael, Uncle Larry, all of my Cousins and their children and the vast network of family members on both sides. Hell, I'm even doing it for my biological father, Ralph Jackson, because, although he may not realize it, I love him, too. I'm also doing this for my Grandparents, to honor the sacrifices they made, and for my cousin Shaun, who floors me each day with his amazing strength and courage.

The Navy's Core values are HONOR, COURAGE, and COMMITMENT. I seek to uphold and embody those values from this day forward, each and every day of my life, secure in the knowledge that I am not alone and never will be.

In closing, this will be a new adventure, one that I am looking forward to with great anticipation. I hope to do well, and represent my community favorably at recruit training command and beyond. I have roughly six months to prepare for boot camp, and I am currently part of the US Navy DEP (Delayed Entry Program) I'll post a little more about my experiences as a 'Depper' and the preparation process as I get closer to my step-off date. Thanks for reading this blog, and for all of the ways in which each and every one of you has inspired me to do my best. I'm looking forward to being a part of the World's Finest Navy!!

Here is a short Navy Tribute Video, which shows the proud tradition of the Greatest team on the Planet. Enjoy it, and thanks again.

Best Wishes,

Scott Wichmann

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Scotty,
I love you brother! God bless and don't take any shit from the Yankee fan drill instructors that will kick a little extra dirt in your face.
Your sacrifice is honorable, the Navy will be stronger with you in it. Jen’s sacrifice is even more so, the toughest job in the world – Navy Wife.
My mother had 5 children under the age of 10 when my dad was off on 6-month cruises. Two of my sibling were born in Japan. Growing up on Dam Neck Amphibious Base in VA Beach, I grew up with the wonderful sound of A-6’s and F-14’s thundering overhead.
He’s been retired for 20 years, when I visit home and he drives me onto Oceana Naval Air Station to play golf, I still get chills when I see a 20 year old kid guarding the gate snap to attention and give a sharp salute to my 70 year old father when they see the Officer’s sticker on his car.
A proud tradition, a noble undertaking, you’re a good man Scotty.
Your pal,
Tony

Anonymous said...

Scotty,
My Dad was a Navy officer and in the reserves for many years. I think it is awesome that you are fulfilling this dream. Rock on!!

Sandy

Frank Creasy said...

I got this image in my mind of Louis Gossett Jr. saying "Only two things come out of Virginia..."

Okay, I had to get the joke out first, because the rest of my comment is pretty somber.

Funny how life takes you in a twisting direction along the way, isn't it? When I got out of college in early '82, thinking of an acting career, we were in a terrible recession and acting was among the little work I was getting at the time. With a girlfriend going in the Army through ROTC and our country recently rattled by the Iran hostage issue and Soviet aggression, patriotic feelings were running high among young folks for the first time in a long time. Joining the Air Force seemed right not only for steady employment, but for doing what was right for my country.

No doubt, like me Scotto, you've had family members in various brances of the Armed Services. For my family, it runs the gamut, excluding only the Coast Guard. My father was Army; his brother a Marine; their father a Navy vet from WW I, and so on. Another uncle was in Pearl Harbor overnight on December 6th, 1941. With no sailors on shore leave, they hoisted anchor and steamed out, one of only two ships not damaged or destroyed in the attack the next morning.

I have done some stupid things in my life. I've made some bad choices at times. I don't live with regret, but even if I did, I would never - not for ONE SECOND - regret my decision to take an oath to serve, protect, and defend my country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. I wore my country's uniform with great pride. When you walk down the street in America, and you're in uniform - the political differences folks have drop aside as they catch sight of you. They KNOW what your commitment means to this country, and to them personally. Striding with head up and humility fully matched by pride, the respect you're given is earned many times over.

Scott, you and I have some differing views on how to best solve this country's problems. What we share is a strong desire TO solve our country's problems. This country has always stood on the premise that "I may disagree with what you say but I'll fight to the death your right to say it".

For what you've committed to doing, Scott, I thank you. As a theatre colleague, I wish you God's blessings will keep you safe. And as one who treasures you as a friend - I love you.

Rich Travis said...

I am very proud of you, sir. For my two sons who are serving now I thank you for your committment and love of country. God speed and keep us posted of your experiences and adventures, based on what Kellan and Kyle have told me you will have plenty of both.

We are all proud of you.
All The Best Bud.
Rich

The Voice123 Team said...

Godspeed my friend,

This sounds wonderful. Follow your heart where ever it may take you.

We only have this one life...make the best of it, and look back with no regrets.

Peace homie!

Carrie said...

Know that Boppy or Grampy as you called him is looking down on you and is so very proud of you.

Love you,
Carrie

Audra said...

Well, I think everyone is duly impressed. I will be much more impressed, however, if you update your blog. Also, I will be at softball in the morning. Expect to get dirty.

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