Serve and Protect
Story by PO3 Katie Cox on 01/09/2019
NORFOLK, Va. – It was 1991, during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, when Norman Teague trekked the Highway of Death for the first time in his life.
“I remember death mile,” said Teague. “There was an Iraqi convoy that had been bombed, and we had to go clean up the mess afterwards. That was the first mass casualty I’ve ever see. You don’t forget it, you learn a lot about life, it’s an eye-opener.”
Norman Teague, now an officer at the Virginia Beach Police Department, served 20 years in the Navy. He enlisted in the Navy as a steelworker in Sept. 1988, cross rated to culinary specialist, and retired in 2008 as a culinary specialist 1st class.
The Navy sets a strong foundation for future opportunities and successes.
“I learned many important lessons from the Navy,” said Teague. “The lessons I learned were to be on time, be responsible, be accountable for your actions, do the best job you can, attempt to do your job better than what is asked of you and respect the people around you.”
On top of obtaining more than 65 qualifications in the fields of welding, carpentry, chemical, biological, and radiological defense and weapons training, Teague has also served in two wars and earned 24 medals and ribbons combined while serving. He speaks thoroughly about how many opportunities the Navy has presented him for future endeavors.
“Serving in the military has been a very rewarding experience,” said Teague. “If I hadn’t served in the military, I don’t think I’d be a police officer today. In the police force you talk to people on the worst day of their life, and in that moment you are helping them. The Navy prepared me for that, it’s never easy but it is a part of life.”
On New Years Eve of 2018, Teague and another police officer responded to a structure fire in the Virginia Beach Fourth Precinct area. Upon arrival, the apartment complex was engulfed in flames and there were people trapped upstairs by the fire.
“I knew what needed to be done because of the damage control and firefighting training I received in the Navy,” said Teague. “In the Navy it’s ship, shipmate, and then self. In the police force it’s the public first and then ourselves.”
Both Teague and the other police officer went to the hospital later that day for smoke inhalation. Putting the public first and worrying about his life second is a sacrifice that Teague knows all too well from his experiences in the police force and the military. No matter the outcome, he said he wouldn’t change a thing even if he could do it all over again.
“I met my wife in the Navy,” said Teague. “I met her in Texas aboard the coastal mine hunter USS Cormorant (MHC 57). We have been married for ten years and have two boys and one girl. My wife’s name is Amy and she is a chief mineman, she’s now stationed in Bahrain with the Navy Munitions Command Atlantic fleet.”
Two years apart still couldn’t discourage the love he said he has for his wife. Sacrificing time apart because of the Navy has taught him how to value the little things that many people take for granted, such as spending time at home with his wife and kids. Ultimately making him a better husband and father.
“I’ve learned to appreciate the time spent with my family,” said Teague. “It’s a sacrifice being separated from them, coming home to an empty house, and dealing with problems when your spouse isn’t there to help you.”
He has not only learned about responsibility, love and sacrifice from the Navy, but has also gained a new profound determination for education. When Teague first enlisted, he had 90 college credit hours. While serving, he completed an associate degree in business and a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, graduating from college with honors. Teague is now only five classes away from finishing his master’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in homeland security.
“The Navy has set me up for success in earning my degrees by teaching me to be disciplined in my classes and get my work done,” said Teague. “The work ethic I’ve developed leads me to do the best job I can in any endeavor I choose.”
His advice to anyone who wants to join is to do it because you want serve your country and push your limits. Teague believes the military is a very good road for people who want to make a difference and gain opportunities for future endeavors.
“Twenty years of naval service will help you get to where you want to be,” said Teague. “I have a wife, good kids, a house to live in, food on the table and the respect of my peers.”