The first spark that struck my interest for writing a memoir about my Navy experiences came to me in 2008 while attending the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy. I remember sitting through several days of watching guest speakers who were all retired commissioned officers telling their unique stories of courage and leadership. Not one guest speaker was a Chief Petty Officer or Non-commissioned officer. I just completed my first tour of duty as a Command Master Chief for Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two in Little Creek, Virginia. During this Command Master Chief tour of duty, I experience a deployment to the 5th Fleet area of operation with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Forces and two incredible Navy Dive missions while leading great Navy Divers; Minneapolis, Minnesota Interstate Highway 35 bridge collapse victim recovery and harbor clearance, and salvage of sunken Russian Submarine Juliet 484 in Providence Rhode, Island. My experience with these Navy Diver’s and EOD Technicians I worked with were more compelling than what I was hearing on stage at the Senior Enlisted Academy.
When I returned to Joint Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach, Virginia to begin my second Command Master Chief tour of duty, I started collecting thoughts of all the Sailors I worked with, the leaders I worked for and the most memorable moments of my career that shaped my ability to progress to top enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy and earn the highest qualification in the U.S. Diving Navy, Master Chief and Master Diver. I created one Microsoft Word document that I titled, “my view of my career”. After several months of inserting fresh notes in this document, I began to realize I was writing more about the people I worked with and leaders I worked for more than I was writing about myself. My target audience for my book started forming. I wanted my book to be on the required reading list at the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy.
Looking for employment in a recessed economy after I retired from active duty in 2013 kept me from completing my book. When I finally found meaningful work in 2016, I continued writing. Struggling to transition from military to civilian life made me think of inserting into my book social challenges Sailors faced during my Navy career, alcohol, drugs, Women in the Navy and changing of the homosexual policy. Managing social change, for me, was the most challenging part about leading Sailors. I included a dedication to my mother and father. I highlighted the struggles my father faced growing up poor in a small town, Alice, Texas and his life challenges, mainly picking cotton and working for food.
Several months before I finished my first manuscript draft, I noticed I was referring back to and making “then and now” comparisons between Sailors on my first ship, the USS Reclaimer ARS 42, and the Sailors I worked with toward the end of my career. I remember the first Navy Master Diver I worked for, Master Chief, Master Diver Ed Starkey on board USS Reclaimer. I worked for him only a few months. I remember him describing life on the Reclaimer is for Iron Men only. After completing a 3-year tour of duty on the USS Reclaimer, I understood what Master Diver Starkey meant. Every time my memories reflect back to the USS Reclaimer during my career, I thought of the deep-sea dives I made using the MK 12 deep sea dive suit and the Iron Men I worked with on the Reclaimer. These thoughts created my cover and shaped my book title.
In summary, “View Through a Faceplate Window, Adventures of a Navy Master Diver” is a leadership book. Leading people is never about self. Yes, the memoirs are my experiences in the Navy, but the book is about the people I served with in the Navy who I call Iron Men and America’s sons and daughters.