USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- After working 16 years as a division manager, managing 214 deli departments for a major supermarket chain, making $150,000 a year, a man from Ajo, Ariz. decided to quit his job and join the Navy at age 32.
Personnel Specialist Seaman (SW) David Bigbey now works aboard USS Abraham Lincoln's (CVN 72), Personnel Department assisting Sailors coming into the Navy and preparing Sailors for the transition back into the civilian world.
"The fact is I can do anything, but I chose to do this job," said Bigbey.
Serving in the military is something Bigbey has wanted to do since high school.
"After high school, things came up and I never got to join," said Bigbey. "I continued to earn more money as life moved progressively quicker. The next thing I knew, I blinked and it seemed as if time had flown by."
With the company closing three of the stores in his region, Bigbey had to let go of a few employees, and wanted to make sure they were set for their next jobs. Explaining what the military had to offer opened doors for his employees, as well as himself.
"I wanted to make sure my employees were taken care of after they were let go," said Bigbey, "so I took them to talk to a few military recruiters. I wanted to make sure they had a job and got an education. In the process, I found out I was still under the age limit for joining the Navy. The cutoff age limit was 33, and I was 32. I was definitely interested and wanted to join."
Bigbey's employer laughed when he told them he had joined the Navy.
"My employer was shocked when I told them I had just signed the paperwork to join the Navy," said Bigbey.
"They laughed and didn't believe me. I pushed the paper in front of them to prove to them. At the same time, I realized I was walking away from my job and everything I had."
Confused about whether his decision was a good one, Bigbey trusted his instincts and made a commitment to naval service.
"At first I thought, 'Am I doing the right thing?'" said Bigbey. "I always tell people to live without regrets. My regret was not joining the Navy, so I knew I had made the right decision. If you're going to do something, do it on your own terms."
Bigbey came from a military family and lived in a small town where a majority of the people served in the military.
"My dad and grandpa were in the Marines, my brother and one uncle were in the Air Force, two of my uncles were in the Army and two of my uncles were in the Navy," said Bigbey.
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.