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From 'Battleship' to the Navy
Posted Oct. 5, 2007

Rhiannon Mim
Photography Editor

As the band begins to play, the audience rises to their feet. One by one the divisions begin to march into the drill hall. My family searches the sea of nearly bald heads for a familiar face and at last there he is, third to last in the second row. My brother Doug, one of the newest sailors in the United States Navy, distinguished by his glowing white uniform. In this moment I am truly proud of my little Dougie.

From Hot Wheels to battleships, it’s crazy how much has changed in 18 years. What started as a sibling rivalry grew into a close friendship. My little brother Doug, only two years younger than I, was the one I grew up with playing Legos and football.

While I made it into my first choice college, my brother was failing his classes in high school. A pure genius yet school proved not to be his cup of tea. That cup came one day in his decision to join the Navy.

On his entrance exam he scored in the top 5 percent of the nation, and on August 2, he shipped off to the Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. In our final embrace of tears I couldn't even mutter the words “make us proud.”

After this past weekend those unspoken words hit their mark. On Sept. 27 I watched Doug and 600 other young men and women graduate from eight tough weeks of basic training. The term knuckleheads was replaced by their official title as sailors and my brother earned three ranking stripes as well as two ribbons.

At the end of the ceremony I ran down the stairs and threw my arms around Doug, no longer a childish boy but a composed young man. This transformation brought tears to my eyes. But within minutes the tables of time turned and I resumed my role of big sister. I asked my dad if poking him would be assaulting military personnel and he responded with, “Nope it’s just picking on your little brother.”

We were all glad to be reunited, especially my brother since he had been confined to the base since his arrival in August.

When we walked around downtown Chicago it was entertaining to see how many people would just stop and stare as my brother passed by in his uniform. Two even giggled as Doug walked past. My dad wouldn't let him live that one down as he shouted, “Women love men in uniform.” My sarcastic brother simply responded with “Yeah, I know.”

By Sunday our time together came to a close, as Doug was required to return to the base for his transfer to technical school. This departure proved to be harder than when he first left.

With tearful eyes we stepped back into the rental car as Doug mouthed “I love you” before stepping off to resume his duties.

It still hits me hard now to think that the friend whom I spent almost everyday with for the past eighteen years will only be coming home for four weeks out of the year. My mom reminds me that a job is a job but I can't help but be selfish and miss Doug.

I wish we could go back to our childhood, when nothing mattered but playing all day till our mother called us back home. Yet, I couldn't be more proud of my little brother.

My car will be easy to find now. It's the blue Mazda with the yellow bumper sticker that reads “My brother is in the Navy.”

Rhiannon Mim, a junior journalism major, is photography editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at rmim@ulv.edu.