Death is omnipresent, but it is not omnipotent. You cannot have death without life or a process. For some, death spells the end to biological energy. For others, death means the end of a process or an era.
In the life of the protagonist of this story, it is the end of an era and livelihood. It is the causality resultant from choices that went against the status quo.
Sometimes, raging against the machine you volunteered to work for will have you rage against the choices in your life. In other situations, however, that rage can bring change to a dying world.
This is the story of John Dooh (real name withheld). His choices affected his life in what I felt was a negative way.
The Pipeline and the Hebrew Hammer
John called himself the "Hebrew Hammer." A true child of the Jewish faith, according to this fast talker and drinker", his purpose in life was threefold:
I met him after I completed qualifications in the Navy's training station. I just took over as lead for a division of chemists and radiation health technicians. The training pipeline was fast-paced, and John was my second. He got the job done and met the regulations. The crew liked him, and so did I.
He had a casual demeanor about him, and that was important. You can't let the regulations and atmosphere force you into the abyss. That path leads to solitude and attachment to an organization that can and does replace you in a heartbeat.
The Training Program
Once students arrive at the training command, they've received quite an extensive education equivalent to a 4-year college education compressed down to about 1.5 years. At least half of the sailors drop out or fail out of the training program. There are another six months to a year left to their training before heading out to their first ship.
Students that arrive where I was stationed get to work on a functional power plant. They must learn virtually every system and operating procedure before they're allowed to move onward. They work rotating shift work during their entire stay. Once they're done, though, they get to live in relative peace until their transfer.
My field of expertise was no different. The students I had needed to meet their requirements and understand how chemistry and radiation impacted operations in every way imaginable. They needed to complete a long laundry list of expectations. It was understandable since everyone on board a ship had to operate at a moment's notice—their level of knowledge needed to be in place.
I had a successful run in the training command. I ran a tight ship. I felt I was always fair with my crew. I explained the rules and expected them to be followed. You slip up, and I expected that you owned up to your error.
I promised them all that if they were honest about it, I would protect them with a warning even at the cost of my career. However, the hammer would drop if they lied, and I had to find out myself or through someone else. Thankfully, I always kept that promise. It kept things very stable and prosperous.
It was probably because of this and the success of my students that I got promoted. They gave me great reviews, and my crew produced excellent results. Instead of leading a division, I was notified that I would lead the power plant and officers during operations while I was on shift. That meant I would need to choose a successor...John Dooh was my first choice.
I like to keep things simple where trust was involved. I saw John's habits daily. He got the job done and did it well. My superiors and I didn't look any further than John. I turned over my responsibilities to him, and we shook hands before departing. I would have liked to get to know him and his family better, but the needs of the service prevented me from doing so. Maybe I could have helped him.
Anyway, John became the leader of the laboratory. When he asked me if I had any other advice I could give, I said:
Luckily for me, after I turned over my duties, I took a vacation before my new training phase began. I returned to the command afterward refreshed and ready to go. Little did I know, I had work to produce again in my old department.
My first direction upon arriving was to create a new remote laboratory. It was to have the same capabilities as the current one in place. I asked for reasons and was told there was no time. I had a blank check, people to work with, and a timeline to meet. Once I completed that task, I was then questioned by my superiors about the conduct of student training and my expectations for them.
Once the work and questioning were complete, a dark realization fell upon me. I did this work because I had something to seek out. My superiors questioned me about the standard because they were using me as a measure against someone else. That someone else had to be someone with whom I had a history.
It turned out Mr. John Dooh messed upon on some analyses and tried to cover it up. Covering it up affected the work of different training divisions and delayed training across the board. The delay came from troubleshooting the problems hidden by Mr. Dooh. Had he owned up to the error, only one section's training would have been delayed. The new laboratory I had to get set up allowed for training to continue unchecked.
Unfortunately, that wasn't all. Mr. Dooh also falsified documents for training sessions. He also convinced students to sign documents stating training was completed. He reasoned that the training evolutions could be discussed instead of being performed in the field. However, he had tried to hide this too.
Dead Man's March
The military is a harsh taskmaster. The job must be accomplished. Everything else was secondary. EVERYTHING.
Some people I worked with were human, though. It made time in the service bearable. Even the most complicated people will protect you if you make a mistake. The caveat is that you have to hold yourself accountable. Heaven help you, though, if you attempt to conceal. I learned what "no mercy" meant after John's sentencing.
John could have been court-martialed. However, the Commanding Officer (CO) took an interest in this case. Instead, John went to Captain's Mast. It's a form of non-judicial punishment where one person...and only one determines your fate based upon the evidence provided.
The CO asked John various questions about his career. John made rank in < 5 years what other people spent decades trying to achieve. He had an impressive resume. The CO asked him about his wife and kids. I was kind of surprised about the small talk the CO was having.
The CO's apparent warmth of frigidity is in disguise. John was reduced to the same rank he had when he first joined the Navy. He was stripped of any awards and certifications he worked towards his entire career.
And his family? The CO said that he would make an example of John both to the Navy and his own family. The Captain held that if John admitted his error, none of this would have occurred. John, however, did NOT make that choice.
The CO issued John transfer orders to Iraq during the war on terror. He stated that if John survived, he would have his second chance at life and a family, but he would be dishonorably discharged once his contract was completed.
The world continued turning. I finished my new set of qualifications, concluded a relationship that was never meant to be, and found I was losing even more hair from my head.
On a whim, I decided to give John a call to see how he was doing. He was still in Iraq. They assigned him to a security detail standing atop a wall overlooking the dessert. John said they called those positions bodies because the most important parts of the job were that:
His wife left him, and they were now divorced. His kids wake up in a different house with their "new" daddy. They are much happier without John (according to him). The divorce left him high and dry. He's also in Iraq, wondering if he'll make it out alive.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
This is a story from my life. Thank you for reading and following on throughout my Hive journey.
Always try and be honest. It will save you more often than not, but more importantly, know that what you're doing is genuine. Ignorance is not always bliss.
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