CALL OFF-DUTY: THINGS SOME DO WHEN NOT WEARING THE UNIFORM

(By UTCN Marlène Houngbedji)

Though this is 2011 and few Seabees, young or… ‘seasoned’, have managed to resist the strong appeal of video games as off-duty activity of choice.  For some of them, drums, a pair of good running shoes, an acoustic guitar or a paint brush bring as much thrill, stress relief or sense of accomplishment as scoring points in a record time does for others.

Meet Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (SCW) Timothy M. Jackson, 25, of Browntown, MI, an accomplished, self-taught drummer who has been involved in music for over a decade.  “Me and my buddies got the itch to play music in 7th grade,” he recounts, also crediting his father exposing him to the majority of the music he still listens to today, including Judas Priest and Rush.  Jackson once begged his father to take him to an Iron Maiden concert, which he did.  The experience was as exhilarating as it was revelatory.  “That’s when I realized that the music wasn’t just coming out of the speakers; there were real people doing it, and I wanted to be one of them,” says Jackson, who describes himself as relentless, like a horse with blinders on from that moment forward.  It explains his reluctance to see music as a mere hobby.  His favorite drummer?  Canadian musician Neil Peart, of whom Jackson says is the best there ever was.  Though he enjoys his work, playing drums is still a passion strong enough to impact his morale and hold a therapeutic value, an experience he compares to addiction.  Jackson’s band, the formerly called Old Diamond, an alternative rock/metal group, is currently on hiatus but used to perform live twice every homeport, though he would like to be able to do so more often.  Jackson gladly shares his after-hours routine, which always begins with a hot shower, a necessary step to put him in the right mood for band practice at a space near his house.  Practice may or may not be followed by more playing at home using his electric set and headphones.  “I play until my wife says it’s enough even though she knows music is big part of who I am.”  So much so that he always brings his electric drums along with him on deployment and finds himself tapping on surfaces throughout the day.

Running is to Builder 3rd Class (SCW) Amanda Glover what drumming is to HM3 (SCW) Jackson.  Wearing work-out clothes borrowed from a friend to discuss her passion for running, the 21-year-old, of Cleveland, OH, proudly dons a shirt she wore on the Mississippi Mayor’s Cup 5K Run, which took place on November 21.  Glover confesses to have been a much lazier person before she became a Seabee, three and half years ago.  “I hated exercise but got into running after we came back from deployment in 2011,” she explains.  She now runs up to five times a week, with Saturdays being 5k-run days, and is considering officially joining the Gulf Coast Running Club.  Her best accomplishments as a runner this year?  The first was winning a state-sponsored 1-mile race in 8.02 minutes, which makes her the Mississippi record holder in her age range.  The second was ending her 1.5 mile Physical Fitness Assessment run in 13 minutes, her fastest run time thus far with room for improvement, she adds.  “Running is addictive,” says Glover, “I didn’t run before I joined the Navy and now I run all the time.”   Having developed her abilities after becoming a service member, Glover understands the challenges of training for personal improvement, especially for Seabees who often fall out of company or battalion runs.  She recommends finding a running partner to keep motivation high.  Getting better PFA scores was a prime incentive to increase her weekly mileage ran; it nevertheless doesn’t match how much she loves receiving trophies…  

 An acoustic guitar leans on a stand in LT Tyler R. Scharar’s living room beside the television.  A stack of music books mixed among internet printouts of song music and lyrics lay on the coffee table.  If LT Scharar of Houston, TX, enjoys painting (he paints a few pieces a year), the outdoors, the beach, running, swimming and kayaking, playing guitar ranks high on his list of off-duty activities.  Studying the piano, drums, trumpet, tuba as a boy allowed him to acquire a basic understanding of music theory.  Then Scharar played his older brother’s guitar and became hooked.  “I enjoy old country like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson,” says Scharar, “and have always preferred playing music with simpler rhythms.”  LT Scharar never brings his guitar on deployment, as his schedule keeps him busy. Unlike his favorite entertainers, he has never played in front of large crowds, though he brings his guitar on camping trips with friends.  He also once granted a Japanese woman’s request for him to play a Beatles song for her husband.  “The Japanese love the Beatles. I think it was the song ‘Hey Jude’ that I played. She offered me the equivalent of about 10 dollars.  That was the only time I’ve ever made money playing guitar, and probably the only time I ever will,” Scharar jests, speaking modestly of his abilities.  He believes he will likely keep playing and singing songs for a long time, but comfortable with the skill level in which he currently is, he does not plan on becoming a guitar superstar.

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