MARIANNA, Fla.— “Always courageous and ready now, anytime, anywhere.”
These are the mottos of the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve. So, it is also the motto of Frank Cianelli.
Cianelli, 48, completed two tours during his time with the Navy. He currently serves in the Navy Reserve.
Cianelli enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1988, the year he turned 18.
He was first stationed at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida and assigned to a P-3 squadron.
“Really the military is all the same,” he said. “Generally, you get sent somewhere where you don’t know anybody and before you know it, you know everybody.”
He then went on to serve two tours overseas for the Navy.
“Afghanistan is a beautiful, yet deadly, place,” he said. “And the news doesn’t cover what it’s really like. It was odd to always look over when you’re driving through the streets and kids are just kids, no matter what country you’re in. You hate to see bad things happen to them.”
Cianelli says the news often times didn’t cover the events occurring in Afghanistan.
“When I was there in ’15, it kind of went away,” he said. “No one wanted to talk about it anymore. Stuff happened every day and we were seeing it, but you check the news and none of it made the news. Some would if it was really big.”
Cianelli reflected on his shift into the military. For Cianelli, the change wasn’t all that difficult.
“The transition, I didn’t find hard,” he said. “But it’s all about balance. Where some people have one job, whether you’re a civilian or military, the biggest challenge, especially on the reserve side, is doing both. A lot of people don’t have that.”
Many would conclude that to transition out of such a situation, however, might be difficult. For Cianelli, however, it was just a matter of getting it done.
“As far as the transition even coming back from Afghanistan, it wasn’t that big of a deal,” he said. “You just put the foot down and do it.”
Cianelli says that he still keeps in touch with the friends he made while serving. He gives credit to texting, FaceTime, and social media for their ability to keep up communication.
“My best friends are military more than the people I grew up with,” he says.
Cianelli says that he served during the time period when marriage to a foreigner would guarantee their citizenship. He says that while he was stationed in Honduras in the early 1990’s, it was popular for servicemen to be set-up with the local women.
“They invited us all to this USO Barbeque,” he said. “So we get there, we think it’s going to be this nice eating event, and two vanloads of women come out. And all of a sudden, they start mingling with all these guys.”
Cianelli says that he was aware of what was going on. Some of the guys, however, weren’t so enlightened.
“Most of these guys were pretty young,” he said. “I was a little older, in my late 20’s, so I knew what was going on. But a few of those guys ended up marrying some of those girls. Now, I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I just thought it was weird that the USO set that up. It was crazy.”
Cianelli left the Navy in 1995. He didn’t stay out long, however. In August of 2012, he joined the Navy Reserve, where he still serves. He also currently works for Marianna Toyota as a sales manager.
Cianelli is grateful for the opportunities the military has lent him.
“It’s not for everyone,” he says. “That’s why it’s the 1 percent. But it affects you in a way that it’s an opportunity to see things, to meet people you may never meet.”
To Cianelli, the military has been more than just a job. Because of his service, he’s had opportunities and experiences he would otherwise not have had. He even recommends the service to those who may not know what they want to do yet.
“I think the military is a good opportunity for everybody,” he says. “Especially if you have a kid who doesn’t know what he wants to do. A quick tour in the military is probably the best thing they could do until they know. They show you a lot of things. You get to have experiences. Especially in a small town like this where someone may never see any part of the world. It’s a good learning experience and some of them may stay in.”