I’m from Lincoln City, Oregon. After high school I didn’t feel like I was ready for college and I wanted to travel; the military was an opportunity for that. When I joined in 1996, I was expecting just to do a four-year commitment.
After I was stationed on the USS John C. Stennis, I went as an Individual Augmentee to Afghanistan. I was coming up to the end of my IA when I was up for orders and saw there was an exchange billet for a Fire Controlman Chief to Germany. I didn’t know anything about it, but I talked to my detailer and was able to apply.
I couldn’t just take the orders; I had to take the DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery Test) to see if I could learn the language first. Once I passed I applied for special programs and put in my application, just like you would for any special program, along with my DLAB score and got accepted. My wife and I both went to DLI (Defense Language Institute) in Monterey, Calif. to learn German.
I found out midway through school that I was going to a German frigate. After eight months of instruction at DLI, we both walked out with an Associate’s Degree in German and were on our way to Wilhelmshaven, Germany.