Episode 18 - The only real training for leadership is leadership

Back in 2003 I decided to enroll in the Navy's Basic Underwater Demolitions Course. I had already passed the Combat Diver Classes (which was a piece of cake). I was there to test myself at what was widely considered to be the most physically demanding training course in the entire military. For me, it was a way to gain respect from the men I was enlisted with. I was the only Corporal in a class made up of soldiers, sailors and airman. It was the worst three weeks of my life. But it paid off. The fact that I outranked Roy and Ben had little to do with my success as a team leader. They respected me because of my achievements with the Demolitions Course, including the Korean Rescue, which is now part of my file. When I heard Ben telling Corporal Grisham about how I saved 4 Korean soldiers in the Sea of Japan, I new I had their confidence. Grisham is a nice kid. He's the youngest of us and he's getting along fine with everyone here, especially with Dr. Johnson. The professor and I have been spending a lot of time together looking at data sent from our mini-sub. It's as if Argo 3 is the 8th member of our mission. And I must say: a good one. On Sunday afternoon Ben and I made our way to McMillan's Cliff for a little rock climbing. I've been wanting to do that since I got here. My first week as a command officer at the Mulberry Ridge went by without a hitch. One of the underwater cameras is malfunctioning, but I decided to wait for replacement parts, before putting anyone in the water. That "thing" is still out there and I would hate to loose a man under my command. I now understand how Sergeant Palmer feels about us. To think I doubted him on the beginning of this mission. I ordered supplies for the first time this week, including more rations and a cabin tent to be used as dining place and shelter for some of our equipment. Hopefully Captain Schneider will be back from her leave to drop the supplies. I've been expecting the test results on the scute found by Grisham a week ago. Nothing yet. The scute found by Roy is still in my duffle bag sitting in my tent. Roy has been good about keeping it a secret. I want to keep things under control till the sarge gets back. I can't even imagine what Dr. Johnson would do to put his hands on a turtle that big. Not to mention the Professor and his Radiation Genetics Department. I know they are under contract with the US Army, but I can totally see the situation getting out of control. Yesterday I had an idea. At the end of October I remember seeing many of little turtles getting ready for hibernation. I even had one inside my tent at some point. So I decided to find one of those turtles and compare measurements with the scute I had hidden. This way I could estimate the size of our monster. Then, I compared scute shapes using one of Dan's books that was left in Sergeant Palmer's tent. If I am right, the Mulberry Ridge Turtle is about 4 feet long, not counting the head and tail! I know a Galapagos Tortoise is about that big, but we are talking about a carnivorous water turtle here. No wonder Dr. Johnson's trap has not caught anything yet: it's way too small. For now on, I'll be carrying my pistol everywhere I go.

by Corporal John Harris, January 12, 2006