October 13 will mark 241 years since the United States commissioned its Navy. Since that time, it has become the largest navy in the world with the world’s largest aircraft carrier. Students hear about large fleets of ships going out to war like in the Spanish Armada or ships sailing to new worlds like Christopher Columbus did in 1492.

With our Navy being around for almost 250 years, there is no shortage of stories about a sailor’s time in the military and life lessons that are learned. Experiences are what get passed along through word of mouth and become stories that are told through the generations. Some stories are used to teach, while others are told year after year for their entertainment factor.

The lighthouse joke is a common sea story that is told about a US Navy ship that assumed another ship was in its path and requested it to move. In reality, it was a lighthouse that was in the way of the ship. The joke has been told using different ships, such as the USS Coral Sea and the USS Nimitz, but Navy officials have confirmed the incident between a Navy ship and lighthouse has never happened.

While some stories aren’t as happy as others, they give the listener or reader a chance to see into the lives of those who lived through peace and wartime. Are some of the stories feel good stories that are just told for pure entertainment? Yes. In addition though, there are also those that help shape a person for the better, and sometimes those are the stories that stay with people.They are stories that help a person who may not realize that they aren’t alone in their struggle to find work or want to get out of the job they are in for something better.

Brandon Webb worked as a Navy SEAL during his military service, specifically a Naval Special Warfare (NSW) sniper course manager. When asked by Harvard Law Review about whether or not he was challenged to be good at his job, he told his interviewer that he knew nothing less than excellence during his time as a SEAL, “As a Navy SEAL, and sniper, one of the things I learned was that excellence matters”, Webb said.

“It matters whether you’re on a SEAL Team, business team, family team, or part of your country, your church softball team or your Tuesday night bowling league. The drive for excellence not only motivates you, but it motivates those around you. Great players want to be on great teams. That’s why one of the hallmarks of the great leaders is their own individual passion for – and commitment to – excellence. There are always going to be a group of people who are insecure with themselves, and who will attempt to bring you down. I call them ‘Ankle Biters’ and ‘Dream Stealers.’ Watch out for them because they are quick to push their own insecurities, envy, and negative energy on you.” Webb said his time in the Navy as a SEAL instilled in him a sense of excellence and gave five key takeaways he gathered during his time in the military.

  • Train and train harder than you expect to have to perform
  • Focus on the positive, envision success, and believe winning and success is inevitable
  • Great leaders are secure in themselves
  • Start thinking of adversity and competition as chances to challenge yourself
  • Excellence comes at a price

What Kay Lynn took from her time in the military was more related to how what she did translated to her civilian jobs after she retired from service. Lynn’s family has members who served dating back to the American Revolution, and to her, becoming a member of the Armed Forces seemed like a natural path to take. While they just might sound like job skills that a person can naturally acquire, the skills take on a new meaning when they come from someone who served.

  • Always be on time
  • Follow the chain of command
  • No one is indispensible
  • The power of teamwork

The military is not the same as working in the normal job field. Being in the military has unique challenges that civilians do not face on a regular basis, and it requires different skills in order to get the job done. The similarities though boil down to fundamental skills that everyone can learn while working, even if the way those skills are learned come differently. With this year marking 241 years of the US Navy, there are at least 241 years worth of job training skills passed down from person to person, year after year, and that becomes invaluable to those who listen as well as 241 years of stories that help lighten the mood and give people hope during dark times.

The Purple Heart Foundation joins the Navy in their celebration of a milestone birthday by remaining committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are looking for jobs after their military service has ended. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.

Here at the Purple Heart Foundation and across the entire Navy, we would all like to leave with one last note:

Sailor’s Creed

I am a United States Sailor.

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.

I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and all who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.

I proudly serve my country’s Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.

I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.