Do. Not. Volunteer. For. Anything.

Before I left Boston for Great Lakes in February, 1967, I received some strong advice from a Senior Chief who was stationed at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station. He looked me in the eyes and said: “Do. Not. Volunteer. For. Anything.”
OK. Got it.
Our first night at Great Lakes, which was spent in old WW2 barracks - you know, no insulation, old steel bunks, a thin mattress- was, well….cold. On the plus side though, they did roust out some mess cooks who gave us what was left of that day’s chili. Yum.
But improvements were on the way. We moved into newer barracks, and our training began.
Then one evening after chow we were called to “Attention On Deck!”
In came the Company Commander and a couple of other officers. As we were all lined up at attention, one of the officers said that they were looking for a volunteer.
Of course, no one stepped forward, and I smiled and remembered the words of that Senior Chief: “Do. Not. Volunteer. For. Anything.”
Since no one was raising their hand or stepping forward, the officer walked down the line, selected one of the guys, and said: “Congratulations. You have just volunteered to be stationed on the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston harbor.”
Wait. What?
Not long after that, we were again visited by a couple of officers and the Company Commander. As we stood at attention, they were once more looking for volunteers. I have to say that I was tempted, with visions of the U.S.S. Constitution in my mind. But I still remembered what that smart Senior Chief told me, and I stood fast.
A couple of the guys “volunteered”, and were congratulated on now being part of the USMC.
Thank you Senior Chief. I will never forget what you told me.

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