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Commentary: Career advice from a 42-year veteran

Jan. 25, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
BMCS Don Gore served more than 40 years before retiring at the end of 2013.
BMCS Don Gore served more than 40 years before retiring at the end of 2013. (Courtesy of BMCS Don Gore)
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Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Don Gore retired Oct. 26 after more than 42 years of service. Past assignments include serving aboard the replenishment oiler Wabash during Vietnam; as a leading petty officer at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif.; and seven years as command senior chief of Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 14 out of Port Hueneme, Calif.

I recently retired from the Navy after more than 42 years of service on active duty and in the Reserve. I joined at my earliest opportunity, age 17. I served in Vietnam and provided leadership throughout the Cold War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. I instilled leadership and a sense of discipline to sailors deployed in various corners of the world.

Here are some of my lessons learned on the job:

■Have a sense of purpose. From the seaman apprentice painting the side of the ship to the boatswain’s mate of the watch underway — focus on the task at hand and the importance and meaning of completing the task in a timely manner, within standards and with minimal mistakes. Never focus on the negative — always concentrate on the positive aspects of what, at the time, may seem like meaningless efforts. You will always be rewarded for a job well done!

■Follow your dreams to the point of realizing the benefits of the end result. Never give up. Persevere in your endeavor to be the best you can be. Always complete tasks on your own terms; that is, follow the standards and guidance but never give in to ill-advised comments and pressure from others. Lead and conduct yourself in a manner that others want to emulate: sharp appearance, military etiquette, adherence to standards.

■Focus on honor, courage and commitment. Demonstrate honor throughout your day-to-day activities, show your courage to stand up to the goals and mission of your command, and commit to your promises of upholding the oath of your enlistment.

It is easy to lose focus due to many distractions and peer pressure. Establish personal values early on and never lose sight of those values.

■Research opportunities while focusing on career advancement potential. Many opportunities are available to members of the Navy, from exciting duty stations, commands, deployment opportunities and education to a rewarding retirement. Do not become stagnant.

■Always strive to exceed standards, and complete mandatory requirements well in advance of due dates. It is easy to lose faith and sense of being when you are serving in an arduous situation. However, overcoming the temptation to give up or to take a less-demanding path will make you a stronger person.

■Your health, fitness and spiritual well-being are important aspects of your career. You cannot succeed in anything you aspire to do if you do not live a healthy lifestyle, eat sensibly, exercise regularly and attend to your religious beliefs.

My time in the Navy seems like it just started, but the journey began on the day I swore in and declared my oath when enlisting in the Navy’s delayed entry program: Dec. 2, 1970. I have absolutely no regrets. It was a good, long ride and I would do it over again.

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