Carlton Philpot is Veterans Services Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Business at University of Saint Mary.
1. Why did you decide to join military service, how old were you and how long did you serve?
I joined the Navy in 1970 at the age of 25. My college roommate and I went to Atlanta University with the intentions of getting a Master's Degree in Animal Physiology and then going on to medical school. However, there was a draft at the time and of all my close friends, I was the only one drafted. I took the Army physical on a Monday, and enlisted in the Navy on the following Wednesday. At the same time that I enlisted in the Navy, I took the Officer Candidate's School exam. While waiting to go to Boot Camp I was accepted into Officer's Candidate School.
Towards the end of my initial enlistment, my old college roommate called and asked if I was ready to go to medical school—without hesitating I told him NO, I was enjoying the Navy, my corvette and the travel too much. After 24.5 wonderful years, I retired at Fort Leavenworth in August 1994. This was one of my best tours in the Navy. I could not have picked a better place to end my military career.
2. Were you deployed during your service and if so where and for how long? What was that experience like?
Naval deployments are not like Army deployments. Naval ships usually deploy for six months and return to homeport for about one and a half to two years, and then deploy for another six months. Of course, some deployments may be a little longer or shorter. I never actually saw any combat, but the first ship I was assigned to did deploy to the western Pacific and the waters in and around Vietnam and Cambodia.
During my 24.5 years in the navy, I spent about 11 years on ships that deployed to the Indian Ocean, the North Atlantic, to Guantanamo, Cuba, the Mediterranean, and through the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea. In spite of being sea sick a great deal of the time, I cannot think of a better way to see the world.
3. What did serving your country mean to you and what advice would you give young people who hope one day to join the Armed Forces?
Military service meant a great deal to me. It allowed me to grow up and mature as an individual, and gave me the chance to make meaningful contributions to the country and the local communities that I lived in. It also gave me a true sense of accomplishment, especially my efforts to enhance awareness and appreciation of the Buffalo Soldiers and other iconic African -American military units
Page 2 of 2 - I would encourage young people today to know that there is no more honorable way to serve your country. I would advise them to maintain their personal and professional reputations and appearances, maintain their credit and pay their bills, and—if they want to improve their situations—to take positive actions toward positive outcomes.
4. What is the best way in your opinion for our community residents to remember and honor veterans not just on Veterans Day, but every day of the year?
It is extremely heartwarming to see the number of businesses and organizations that give discounts and free meals to servicemembers on Veterans Day. Some businesses give discounts throughout the year. However, I believe for the service members themselves, each would be grateful if all institutions, especially schools and colleges, were consistently cognizant of the family members, spouses, and children left behind during deployments, and to also remember that each of them is experiencing a great deal of stress and worry—whether there is a war or not. I know when I would deploy for six months, my girls' behavior would change to some degree. But not everyone is aware of the extreme stress a parent's deployment can place on a child.
I am the Military-Veterans Coordinator at the University of Saint Mary, and I am extremely proud and pleased that the leadership, the faculty, and the staff value the university's military students and are constantly seeking ways to better serve their educational and personal needs. On Nov. 12, Sister Diane will hold the annual President Pinning Ceremony and Reception for veterans and active duty at Saint Mary. At this ceremony the university recognizes veteran and military students, faculty, staff, and their family members by giving each one a lapel pin that says—"Thank You for Your Service." Following the ceremony there is a reception and each veteran, spouse, and/or military dependent is treated to a free meal in the cafeteria.
5. What were the positive ways in which your military service changed your life?
In addition to the normal positives of enhancing my leadership and management skills and abilities, I cannot think of a more honorable way to serve my country, to provide for and to educate myself and my family, and build friends through the Social Networks you develop. Without a doubt, I had a ball.
— Rimsie McConiga