Veteran profile: Mark Cage, U.S. Navy

Courtesy photo Mark Cage

Alisa Boswell

  • Name: Mark Cage
  • Military background: 11 years active duty in U.S. Navy and New Mexico National Guard; 8 years in Navy Reserve, all in law enforcement.
  • Current career: A lieutenant with the Portales Police Department.
  • What was one of your most significant military experiences? We were traveling through the Straits of Hormuz during the Gulf War. I was on the U.S.S. Nicholson and we were coming back home from the gulf after a five-month tour. We were called to general quarters, which is basically all hands, man your battle stations. We were going through Hormuz and Iran had weapons on us. They claimed to own the strait and were threatening us. We were at general quarters for about 12 hours. We had never done it for real until that day, so it was pretty intense. At the time, I was 19, maybe. It was very humbling. You have to trust these guys to do what they need to do to keep you alive.
  • How did that particular situation impact you as a person/professional? That situation was kind of a defining moment in my life that I wanted to be a leader. I decided right then and there that I wanted to be one of those guys ‘cause I remember how I looked at those higher ranking officers like ‘wow, these guys know what they’re doing.’ And I got to be one of those chiefs and I’m very proud of that.
  • How did your military service impact your life? I did some stupid things as a sailor, but I learned. I want to set an example. I want to be that person that people look up to, because if I hadn’t had those people to look up to back then, I wouldn’t be who I am today. But I don’t want to just be that guy; I want to be the guy that’s worthy of that leadership title. That’s my goal in life is to be a positive influence in people’s lives. The moral compass that I have is what I achieved in the military.
  • What was one of the most challenging things about your military service? The biggest thing that you saw over and over again is to watch young people who are away from home for the first time and spending Christmas away from their families for the first time or young fathers missing the birth of their first child and their kid is four months old when they come home. You can’t just stop the war and go home to your family. Your wife could be having a crisis and it would make a big difference for you to be there but you can’t. To me, that was and continues to be the hardest thing to watch.