When you start planning a vacation most people start with questions like, “how many days will we be gone?” “What can we afford?” or “will that work with the kid’s school?” After 8 years in the Marine Corps my wife and I decided it was time to take a vacation other than going to my parents on leave for 2 weeks. We had been hoping and dreaming of Alaska for years because although we got married during my second year in the Corps, I got out for 4 years and worked various jobs before responding to the Commandant’s Call to Arms in 2007, and reenlisting. So since about 2002 we have been planning trips to Alaska and cancelling them for one reason or another, usually money or too little time. We have planned all sorts of excursions, week long trips, hikes, etc, etc. They all started one of two ways though, either with a flight, which if we were lucky, we could get round trip tickets from where we were for about 3000.00 for the whole family, or a cruise which would have been the same or more but with a lot less time on the ground seeing what we actually wanted to see. We eventually gave up trying.

Then came a paradigm shift in my professional life, I chose not to be an Air Traffic Controller or Marine any longer. I started off in 1998 as a normal Grunt; I worked my way through Squad Leaders Course, Corporals Course, Mountain Survival and Winter Mountain survival courses, Scout Sniper School, and multiple others before ending my first enlistment and the subsequent reserve time. Then, as I stated before, I felt the itch again in 2007. I went to the recruiter and inquired about a lateral move. Basically what a lateral move is is a request with the military to change job specialties. The only way I could justify coming back in with a wife and two children was to move to something a little safer. So after 4 deployments in my first enlistment, one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan and two MEU(SOC)¹, I looked for a job where I knew I would get an employable skill and not have as many deployments. I found that in Air Traffic Control but, as fate would have it, I hate the job. The things I liked most about being a grunt, leadership, team work, creative solutions, did not exist in my new job. So I found a new career in the civilian world, as a Police Officer.

In making my decision to move on from the Marine Corps I created a few enemies and my work environment has deteriorated to the point where I hate going into work. So a few days ago I came home and told my wife we need a vacation, in my mind though I was still thinking just a little week or two week vacation either home to Grayling, or my other favorite, to the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountain National Park. She, on the other hand, had bigger plans and she threw them at me. “What about a trip to Alaska,” she asked. I thought about it for half a second and dismissed it, it would cost too much and we don’t have enough leave saved. After listening to me for about half a second she cut me off, “you don’t get it, we leave on the trip the day you get out of the Marine Corps.” For those of you who don’t know, the military has a process called Terminal Leave². If you have leave saved near the end of your contract you can go home early, and still be paid. You use your leave up before your contract is up but for all intents and purposes you are out. I will have 30 days of leave to use up.

It all started to click for me, it will be the end of July the kids are out of school, we have a good bit saved, and I will technically be without a job, although I will be a certified Police Officer and there are quite a few departments hiring around here in North Carolina. So I won’t have to worry about taking too many days from work, I just won’t start till I get back. Plus as a bonus I will still be getting paid by the Corps. But, then my pessimist side kicks in, those plane tickets, the hotel rooms, food, the bill was getting huge, and we would have to be back in time for the kids to get in school. My wife and I mulled it over for a few days and realized we could make this happen and not only were we going to make the trip but we are going to go all out.

So here it is I decided I am going to blog about the whole process from inception through planning and implementation to conclusion. We have solidified past the inception phase (can you tell I have a military mind I’m about to break out a BAMCIS³ or OSMEAC) and are entering the planning phase. So there will be more to come and soon, because the ideas are flowing out and we are going to make this a trip of a lifetime. There are a lot of surprises coming, we may not go the “traditional” route, and we have a ton of events planned and sights on our list to see so check back soon to see how we get there and where we go.

Key to terms:
1. Leave – Military equivalent of Paid Time Off
2. MEU(SOC) – Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations, this is when we deploy aboard Navy ships to float as a 911 force for world events.
3. BAMCIS – Acronym for military planning meaning:
B – Begin the Planning
A – Assign Reconaissance
M – Make Reconaissance
C – Complete the Planning
I – Issue the Orders
S – Supervise the execution
4.OSMEAC – Another acronym for the way orders are written meaning:
O – Orientation
S – Situation
M – Mission
E – Execution
A – Admin and Logistical Matters
C – Command and Control Issues

Until next time
Stay Frosty!