Where does someone start when their little brother becomes an Officer of the U.S. Navy and proposes to his girlfriend in the same day?
I spent a lot of time thinking about these two promises my brother was going to make — and made — on the ride to and from Newport, RI. He’s not only committed himself to the Navy, but also to his dedicated girlfriend in one swoop. I’m proudly impressed with the path Gabriel has chosen for both his personal and professional life. Neither is easy. Both will take work and sacrifice, but he loves both and will dedicate himself to them vigorously.
Navy OCS Graduation
Twelve weeks ago, my brother left warm, sunny Miami, FL for the cold port city of Newport, RI to attend the grueling Officer Candidate School (OCS) in the dead of winter. He arrived with his documents, a backpack, and the clothes on his back. Nothing more. They had him give that up, too. The U.S. Navy has only 12 weeks to turn civilians and other candidates into competent naval officers ready to hit the ground running. They waste little time.
“I knew this was real by day three when they came banging on my hatch door at 0430,” he said, “The first two days people were pretty nice. The D.I.’s change that really quick.”
For the next 12 weeks he and nearly 100 other candidates were under the strict and unrelenting tutelage of both Navy and Marine instructors who instilled in them the skills, discipline, and physical training necessary to formulate Navy Officers. Assisting the Drill Instructors (D.I.) was the seaside winter weather of Newport. Physical training and duties occurred outside more than once.
At the end of the grueling 12-week program, my brother stood before us, faced us and the auditorium, raising his right hand. In a thunderous and unified voice he took his Oath of Office.
“I do solemnly affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.”
Proposing to Angelica at The Breakers Mansion
After graduating from Navy OCS, my brother took his girlfriend for a tour of The Breakers Mansion. Because scheduling was so tight, I was unable to hide on the premises beforehand to secretly photograph him popping the question. He and I did some “adaptive storytelling” to explain my presence on this little field trip. With such a beautiful property, I needed little excuse to be there with my camera gear. So, he and I didn’t need to stretch the truth very much.
We walked into the lobby area of The Breakers Mansion, but I faded back to give them some room for privacy. He dropped to one knee.
My brother had just promised himself to the nation, but the entire time — through the push-ups, sleep deprivation, and pressure — he was also preparing to promise himself to her.
Gabriel made two promises that day and both Angelica and the Navy can trust he’ll keep them.