Orders to Nowhere….

Hello there!  This is the first post on what I hope will be an ongoing endeavor.

So why am I writing this, and what does “Orders to Nowhere” mean?  Well, let me start at the beginning, or at least close to it.

I am a career Marine, and I have been serving for over a quarter of a century.  At the ripe old age of 17, while Ronald Reagan was still in his first term, I raised my right hand and swore an oath to support and defend the United States of America.  Soon after I enlisted I received my first set of orders.

Orders, in military terms, are a set of documents that tell you where you are supposed to go and what you are supposed to do when you get there.  The closest thing in the civilian world would be a transfer from one location to the other, but the difference between the military and the outside is that civilians have the option to take it or leave it.  Not so much in the military.  You don’t have the option of turn them down because you don’t like them.  That’s why they call them orders…

Anyhow, that’s the way it works.  Every couple of years or so the Marine Corps (or the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and even the Coast Guard) issues out a set of orders to send you to your next assignment, and off you go.  Pretty much everything is decided for you- where you are going, where you will be working, and even in many cases where you will live.  All things considered, it is a pretty good gig because all you have to do is what you are told to do- pick up your orders at your administrative section and off you go!

That is, until you find yourself on the offramp from military service, which interestingly is where I find myself now.  For the first time since big hair and parachute pants were all the rage I am faced with making a transition from a life that I have thoroughly loved (most of the time, anyway- there were times when I hated it, but such is life) to one that I left a long time ago.

This blog is about that transition.  As each day passes I find myself learning things I didn’t know (but are second nature to pretty much everyone else) and doing things I that I have not done in a looooooooong time (like getting to know my hair comb again!)

I hope that you, the reader, get something out if it, particularly if you are in the service.  Someday you won’t be, and maybe I can help make your transition a little smoother by sharing how mine goes…

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16 responses to “Orders to Nowhere….

  1. I watched my step-father go through this process after his retirement as a Master Gunnery Sergeant. He opted a few years later, to go back to public service as a jail sergeant for his local county sheriff. After 14 years there, I watch him retire yet again, this time for good.

    This is such a strange transformation to go through. He seems to have found his footing after not having anyone telling him where to go or what to do (except for my mother that is!) and is THOROUGHLY enjoying himself.

    I wish you the best in your retirement from the corps. Thank you so very much for your years of service to our beloved country.

    All best-
    Brandy

  2. Sir,

    Although transitioning out is exciting, some days will be challenging. Remember, you have brothers everywhere. The transitiong I made back in 2007 led me to a place where I ended up back in the middle east. After two years there, I am finally back in the states; hopefully, for good. No matter what challenges, your brothers in arms are all around, and always there when needed. That’s one of the best parts of being a Marine. The camradery still exists to an extent once you’ve moved on.
    Best of luck with everything. God Bless.

    Joe “lucky” Sutton

  3. Nice post Mike. Good job on finishing it out to the end though Marine. Although less years seperate my on ramp and off ramp from that of yours it is still a road that I enjoyed the travel on as well. And I never get tired of looking back at that particular road and wish that sometimes I could get back on it since it is definitly the road less traveled by most. But what brings me comfort and maybe you as well is that you did travel it and there are many that you will come into contact that indeed traveled as well and you will be able to share
    those memories forever.
    Semper Fi my Friend.

  4. Great blog. It’s not better or worse on the other side- just different. Always remembered your advice- Lead, Teach or Learn- and it continues to serve well. Good luck with your transition and finding the next challenge. If you find yourself back in Texas, look me up.

  5. Even while ensconced in your own transitional turmoil, you take the opportunity to help others. That exemplifies why you have been/are/and will continue to be excellent. The Corps was lucky to have you, and the outside world will benefit from your new focus.

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