Just over four and a half years ago, Matt Corcoran of West Roxbury, MA grew bored with his life. Having just graduated from Salem State College, and recently acquiring a job at JP Morgan, Matt was feeling restrained and under stimulated. Life inside a cubicle was dull and unrewarding. He worried that this would be his life forever, and realized that he needed to add some excitement if he were going to be happy. Mulling over his options over a few beers at the Bell In Hand in downtown Boston, Matt began talking with a guy from the Navy. Interestingly, the officer was a recruiter, but had made no efforts in recruiting Matt, because he was off duty. Matt liked what the guy had to say about the United States Navy anyway, and was sold on joining, without ever having heard the recruiters pitch.
While at boot camp, Matt realized he was the only person there who had joined the Navy out of boredom. Most others joined to pay for college, or to acquire important skills in their choice of career. He never questioned his decision though, no matter how hard they worked him, or where they sent him. Matt had found the excitement he was longing for, and knew he wouldn’t be returning to a cubical in a Boston high rise.
During his four and a half year stint with the Navy, Matt traveled the world on the USS Cleveland (an amphibious assault ship that has been in use since the Vietnam War). The original purpose of the ship was to bring soldiers as close to land as possible, in order to storm the beach and bring soldiers in on the front. Primarily now, however, the ship is used to transport large numbers of Marines to and from the Middle East, as well as bringing soldiers and cargo to other bases around the world. In his first trip on the Cleveland, Matt traveled up the west coast of North America, before stopping in several Asian countries, and a trip through the Middle East. After passing through the Suez Canal, stops were made along the European Mediterranean coast, and the western coast of Africa, before circling back around to Australia, which was the final stop before returning to base in San Diego.
“At first, I wasn’t too crazy about the traveling. During the first few days I experienced some sea sickness, but that wasn’t even the worst of it. I was assigned to an all guys ship, and we weren’t allowed any alcohol on board. We’d be out to see for twenty days at a time without drinking, and without seeing a woman”.
Eventually Corcoran was able to adjust to this new lifestyle, and he even grew to like it. The camaraderie that developed on the ship was of pure testosterone, and Matt found that to be a lot of fun. The twenty days without drinking was still tough, but the officers more than made up for it during the four days they would spend in each port.
“We’d drink our asses off” Corcoran said. “The first three nights we’d get hammered drunk; do nothing but party the entire time. But on the fourth day, when we were all hung-over, that was the day we’d check out the sights and take pictures to send home to our parents so they’d think we were behaving ourselves”.
Corcoran was most surprised by the warm welcome they received in most of the ports the USS Cleveland stopped in. Matt was surprised by how welcomed they were over seas, having heard so many stories about a global negativity toward the United States, especially the US armed forces. “The women loved us the most;” he said, but continued by adding, “most of them were hookers.”
It wasn’t all a party though for Matt. For nearly eight months of his service with the U.S Navy Corcoran was stationed in Afghanistan. He had been trained as a communications officer, and the Marines unit they were transporting were in need of his service. Being the primary source for communicating with base was not comfortable for Matt while in the field. Often these men are the primary target, because when the man with the phone goes down, or if the phone is destroyed, calling for back up becomes much more challenging. Friends from home sent care packages while he was there, and Matt exchanged letters with family and friends to help him get through some of the scarier times.
Matt finished active service with the Navy just over a month ago as a Second Class Petty Officer (E-5). He is still in the reserves, and has been unsure what to with his life at this point. He has a follow up interview with Raytheon soon, who is interested in the security software skills he obtained during service, though he has also put applications in with the Boston Police Department and the Boston Fire Department. If none of these opportunities work out, Matt has a job lined up in San Diego, working as a boarder patrol officer. The job doesn’t appeal to him very much, but the prospect of moving back to southern California is something Matt likes a lot. Everyday, he finds himself thinking about the troops he served with, and missing the camaraderie that he found with the Navy. Even with the possibility of landing one of his hopeful jobs, Matt is feeling tempted by the Navy once again, and has not ruled out reinstating himself for service on another trip with the USS Cleveland.
The Long Jump
4 months ago