Before we got activated, we had a meeting with a representative from the Church’s Military Relations Committee. In addition to all the necessary things we needed to know about having church overseas, he emphasized that people would notice something different about us. I didn’t think that “recognition factor” would happen here but it did when we were out on the ECP (see earlier posting) lane. As the platoon leader, I interacted with the OC’s (observer/controller) throughout the whole day. At one point we were talking about the humidity. I mentioned that I’d lived in two different places where the humidity was high – Virginia Beach when I was on active duty and the Dominican Republic where I lived when I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After I told him that, he said that he knew there was something special or different about me. He said he didn’t know what it was but he knew. He then said something about maybe it having to do with my last name but when I told him that I was a Mormon, he said that was it. He then said the “sh” word and apologized for cursing in front of me. Of course, I was inwardly ashamed at the fact that I had used that word earlier in the day with my troops. I told him it was OK. THEN, that young punk SGT Aaron laughed and told him that I’d said the same word earlier. (Thanks a lot Aaron!!! Dirty, rotten, snot-nosed can’t keep a secret SGT.)
That allowed me to talk to him a little bit about the gospel. He is from Illinois so we talked about Nauvoo and the exodus of the saints to Salt Lake.
That experience made me realize that people do watch us and if we try and live by our standards, they’ll notice something about us. Let’s hope it’s something positive.