George from St. Louis, Missouri writes:
I’m about to start boot camp in a few weeks. I have been dating a girl though my senior year at high school and am planning to ask her to marry me soon. Will I have enough time after boot camp to get married and honeymoon in Vegas?
George, I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble, but the Navy will not allow you to take leave after boot camp. The standard practice is to depart boot camp for follow-on training immediately. After you complete apprenticeship training or “A” School you will normally be permitted ten days of leave while transferring to your next duty station.
I realize that ten days of leave is not a lot of time for a wedding and a honeymoon but I do have good news for you. By the time you finish boot camp, you probably won’t be engaged anymore. You will most likely receive a “Dear John” letter (a letter is a piece of paper with writing on it) during your first month of naval service.
The Dear John letter during recruit training is a naval tradition dating back to the very creation of the Continental Navy when Seaman John Jejune received what is considered the first ever boot camp “Dear John” letter in 1775. It has been preserved in the Smithsonian:
I has’t did miss thee with all mine own heart during these past two fortnight. Whilst thee has’t been hence Benjamin Brawny (the boy from the two farms over) hast been helping with the farm work and hast taken tupon himself the ease the emptiness I feeleth in mine own heart. Haply tis timeth for us to court other people. I desire thee to knowest yond, tis not thou. Tis me. I shall at each moment treasure the timeth we hath spent togeth’r but this war couldst wend on for quite a while and I am not getting any younger. I wanteth thee to knoweth I still careth for thee but just not enough to actually waiteth for thee.
With all mine own heart,
The unfortunate fact is when you leave your home to join the Navy, and I was shocked to discover this myself, life goes on for your friends and family. There I was getting screamed at by some guy I just met because of how I folded my underwear (yes this will happen) and my friends didn’t have the common decency to put their lives on hold. It just goes to show how selfish people can be.
You see, while at boot camp, your greatest social interaction will be in the communal shower with 50 other guys. Whereas your girlfriend will not be so limited (this is not to say that she’s showering with 50 guys). Your girlfriend’s life will go on for the next eight weeks. While you’re doing pushups, making your bed 50 times a day (this will happen too), marching, and getting yelled at for not being able to march and many other things that haven’t even crossed your mind yet, your girlfriend will continue to socialize with all the people she already knows, including anyone who was just waiting for you to get out of the picture.
Don’t worry though. There are a lot of fish in the sea (are you into fish?) There is also a lot of women out there. Chances are you will soon meet someone new. I wish you the best of luck.
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