Being born with hearing problems and then briefly going deaf for about two years in my early years, I suspected my parents thought I would live a hard life in going without, but that all changed when I got my hearing back from many a prayers and seeing the right doctors. I had to practically re-do my early school years as at the time deaf children wasn't something most public schools could handle. So with time and effort my mother helped me along and taught me what she could. Once my hearing returned I was able to re-turn to public school but at a more slower pace to catch up with the other kids.
As a young 17 year old High School Senior I felt very strong in joining the Navy. While not knowing what to expect for such a big decision I really was excited. Being under 18, my parents had to sign a form to allow me to join. That was an interesting conversation I had with my parents let me tell you! For me, boot camp was great and never really been out of my home state, Chicago Illinois was very neat and an adventure. Leaving after boot camp to my first ship the U.S.S. Laboon DDG-58 was very hard leaving my family. This would have been the longest I ever been away from my family. It wasn't like another sleep over at a friend's house, this was more permanent.
Laboon was just commissioned the same year I joined in 1995 and it was in the shipyard in Bathe, Maine for some repairs and upgrades. I truly felt like a small ant on a big mountain. My rate was first a Boatswain Mate, which is mainly a shipboard crew that does everything from painting, anchoring the ship to driving the ship. I personally drove the ship for two years as a helmsman and that was truly awesome. Over 100,000 horsepower on a 9,000 ton warship that drove almost like a car was absolutely a one of a kind experience. Afterwards I then chose to become a Radioman which is the ship's communication team to include satellite communications, UHF, VHF, EHF and ELF. In addition, cryptography, onboard Computer support, repair and maintenance. Radioman was eventually changed to what is now known as IT (Information Systems Technician).
During my first 5 years I deployed 3 times to the Arabian Gulf, to include support Operations and some combatant events to include Desert Strike, Thunder and several others. In addition I got to visit every country that touched the Mediterranean Sea to also include Israel and Jordan (exclusively Petra which was awesome). Laboon was also part of the Battlegroup and on the Deployment with the U.S.S. Cole during the very sad event of the explosion and ultimately deaths of several shipmates in which I knew a few of them.
Leaving sea duty and then reporting for shore duty was another adventure. I was stationed mainly in Norfolk, VA Naval base which is home to the Atlantic Fleet at NCTAMSLANT (Naval Computer Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic). There I was part of the other side of the Navy which was the communication of all ships in the Atlantic Fleet, including all Operations, SITREPs and so much more. I earned two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals from NCTAMSLANT and one from U.S.S. Laboon including several others totaling 13.
Due to some medical issues, I left the navy after serving 9 years. Since then I was then transitioning from military to civilian life which was pretty rough and also trying to find a job like any other citizen and a place to live. I then created a resume and posted it over 70 times to multiple places, job fairs and several other ways. One day I received a phone call from a man whom never seen me before and asked when I was willing to start. WOW I thought! I was very blessed in getting hired at the Pentagon as a Defense Messaging Technician which deals with the Messaging systems in DOD. Living in Arlington a little over 3 years I then was lead to apply for a job back in West Virginia so I searched USA Jobs and found IRS posting in Kearneysville. Without really expecting to get hired, I applied. What a blessing that was and I was so excited.
So to date I have been at MTB ECC Kearneysville since 2007. I have been very blessed even through times of struggling which I know we all do. I eventually bought back my military time and with my current time I spent in IRS I am totaling 18 years this October 2016.
Given all the experiences of my Military Career I have to say there is nothing less of a word I can use than Awesome that allowed me to first serve my country and maintain a good career even during War time. While suffering from PTSD and other medical issues I am very grateful for being able to work in the Federal Civilian work force.
Learning what it means to be part of a team I learned by standing watch while underway at sea with other sailors and identifying hazards and targets, being part of the firefighting team onboard ship during drills, loading the 5 inch gun with fellow sailors while creating a chain of sailors handling 80 lbs bullets and kegs of powder, doing underway replenishments while also refueling at sea with sailors handling lines and cables across water over a 50 foot span while traveling 15 knots, engaging in naval combat with enemy ships or aircraft, maintaining radio communications and cryptography equipment ensuring each others work, not being able to communicate to family and seeing only water for months at a time and able to share stories and circumstances with fellow sailors, sleeping in some of the tightest spaces a person could be in, not being able to eat good food or take showers for weeks sometimes, giving each other support and moral boosters, etc.... There is a lot more stories I'm sure many could share. Team work is definitely a lesson learned from my military experience. In addition, you learn much about yourself including strengths and weakness. All kinds of gifts and talents should be put on the table to succeed in any mission.
The skills of teamwork is one of a select few I think qualifies my position in my section as to being given tasks that may seem undoable to me but in knowing what I have accomplished you know you can even with some help. In addition to give a perspective that is outside of the box sometimes helps give the upper hand.
I am very happy to share my story of my career and working for the Government is something I literally been doing since I was 17. I practically grew up in the Government in my opinion. I thank you for reading.
God Bless America
Donald McCallister, Petty Officer Second Class, U.S. Navy, 1995-2004