A Message from the Commanding Officer
Boot Camp 1986
In 1985, a skinny kid from Texas landed in San Diego, California. As he stepped off the bus from the airport and onto RTC/NTC, he was greeted by a mean looking sailor telling him to spit the gum out of his mouth. So, he did, right onto the asphalt. What happened next can only be described as a rude awakening that high school sports, a police officer father and other teenage activities in the Piney Woods of East Texas could not prepare him for. As he was so impolitely and unceremoniously ordered in a not-so-gentle voice to pick the gum up and hold it in his hand, he came to the conclusion....playtime was over. He was in the Navy now.
And so my time in the United States Navy and all it encompassed, began. Looking back over the last 29 years, I spent many of them involved in the navy or the military in some form, or another. Active duty, reserve duty, overseas deployments in the war on terrorism, military contracting in the Middle East and several years serving with the US Navy's youth program, the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps. I started in Cincinnati, OH doing recruiting, then took command of a new unit back in East Texas, and then commanded Kentucky Division prior to deploying back overseas. Therefore, you can imagine how nice it was to be asked to return and assume command again, which I did in January 2014. I am 100% convinced that if I had the opportunity to join the Sea Cadet Corps as a teen in East Texas, that initial meeting and the next several weeks, would have been more enjoyable, or atleast expected.
The Navy looks upon the Sea Cadet Corps as great motivator for youth in America. Instilling pride, self-confidence, self-discipline and helping them to form friendships and bonds that will last the rest of their lives. As much as the Navy would like for these cadets to join when they get old enough, it's not a requirement. Former cadets have travelled on to lead international corporations, become important political figures and for those that joined....there's several high ranking staff officers that still fondly speak about their time in the corps. Admirals, Generals, ship commanders and more.
I look at this program from different angles. Where else can a boy or girl between the ages of 11 and 17 go to experience such exciting things, such as having active duty SEALs teach them about scuba diving, land navigation and amphibious operations? A rescue swimmer that teaches them life-saving techniques and how to provide CPR and control bleeding? Or a culinary specialist that teaches them how to cook a meal for hundreds of hungry sailors and marines? They get to fly in aircraft, spend time aboard multi-million dollar ships of every conceivable type, and get training on state-of-the-art equipment, by the highest trained instructors in the world? This is that place.
In the Kentucky Division of the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps, we provide the tools and knowledge that teenagers need in order to make an educated decision about serving in the military after high school. We give them an escape from the everyday lifestyle that leads to obesity and the crutch of video games, drug addiction and gang violence. In short, we offer them the ability to lead an exciting, rewarding and fulfilling life. This is their journey. As the volunteers, instructors and officers, we are merely their travel guides.
I thank you for considering being a part of the Corps, and part of the Navy and Coast Guard family. I challenge you to take that next step towards your future. It is what you make it, and is built with the tools that you acquire while you're young. What will you build?
LTjg Joe Ryan, NSCC
US Naval Sea Cadet Corps
Armed Forces Reserve Center
151 Opportunity Way
Lexington, KY 40511