MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (NNS) -- She has steered an aircraft carrier, guided hovercraft into an amphibious dock, and trained countless Sailors fresh out of boot camp on everything from anchoring at sea to chipping paint.
For Petty Officer 2nd Class Corrie Parrish, it was perfect training for how to steer, guide, and mentor the next generation of Sailors living in middle Tennessee.
To hear Parrish talk about it, being a recruiter at Navy Recruiting District Nashville is pretty basic when you get to the heart of it. It's all about sea stories.
"It is awesome to give a high school presentation and put a picture of yourself overseas in a slide and say 'This is what I did and where I've been,'" said Parrish, a native of Burbank, California. "It's like getting to share my Navy story all the time."
Some of those stories are focused, while others are just about having fun. Meanwhile, some don't make sense to the uninitiated until hearing the passion in her voice. One might ask why a Sailor would enjoy having to sleep in the well deck of amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) in between multi-day operations to load equipment at sea. Her motivation is found in the reason which led them there in the first place.
"The main mission of our ship was to transport the Marines and their equipment, and so it all revolves around you," she said. "Even while you don't sleep that much, it's really cool to be in that spot. You are in charge and the ship's mission is on you."
As the ramp marshal, she was responsible for being the one person in the middle of well deck, armed only with two wands and charged with guiding in a 185-ton Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC). At the age when some people are just finishing college, she was already leading a team that, in the moment, was responsible for a vehicle worth nearly $40 million.
But in some way that was a step down in responsibility, because a few years prior she was the master helmsman aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), an aircraft carrier worth nearly $5 billion. With a team of three others, she would rotate in 30-minute shifts while leaving or entering ports to accurately navigate the ship according to the instructions of the conning officer.
"It's stressful; for the master helmsman, you can't be off by more than a half of a degree of your ordered course," she said. "If you are over that, the captain will relieve you on the spot. You literally have to focus the entire time you are steering."
Now she helps to navigate young students fresh out of high school. She tells them about the stressful situations and the hard situations, but she doesn't leave out the lighter side -- like being able to make port calls in Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia.
"I went whitewater rafting in Australia, but we had to be careful because there were crocodiles," she said, laughing. "The guide told us not to stick our hand in until he said it was okay."
Being forthright has allowed her to develop relationships with the applicants who walk through the door. In just over a year, she has already had her name written on the "21 Club" plaque, which means she has recruited 21 new Sailors for the Navy. Recently, she put four people in the Navy in one month and helped her station to achieve recognition as the Large Station of the Month.
Part of her success is her desire to use her experience as a petty officer, formerly referred to as boatswain's mate, to tell the real story of the Navy and not just the one that might play out on TV.
"The best part is being able to share my knowledge about the Navy to those that have no idea about the Navy at all," Parrish said. "You get these kids that come in here and they say 'I want to join the Navy.' Then I ask them, 'Why?'"
Some tell her it's because they read a story or saw a movie. Others tell her they don't want any part of the Navy for the same reasons. According to her, both situations usually reveal the applicant doesn't know the full story. And they definitely don't know her story.
"In the fleet as a boatswain's mate, I worked with a lot of kids that had just come out of boot camp," she said. "I was able to train them in the Navy way. Now I get to do the same job in recruiting with high schools students. I like that; I like when they challenge me on the Navy. I say, 'Please, let me shoot down your incorrect assumptions.'"
But just like her time as ramp marshal on Germantown, recruiting isn't always an easy day.
"There are so many different aspects to recruiting; you may not be good at everything but you learn the tricks of the trade," said Parrish. "It is one of those jobs in which the amount of time that [you] put into it determines how successful you will be. I don't want to say it's not hard, you just have to put the hard work in to make it a success."
For her, it comes down to a simple mantra.
"I always told myself, I can't fail," she said.
Looking back on the 21 new Sailors she helped into fleet, it's hard to argue with her story.
Navy Recruiting District Nashville is responsible for recruiting efforts throughout more than 100,000 square miles in the states of Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Virginia.
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