MARINE CORPS BASE, CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Instead of a normal doom and gloom safety stand down, the leaders of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific invited Ken Whitener to perform a comedy-hypnosis show to literally instill safety into the minds of their Marines at the Sunset Lanai here Dec. 7.
“We all have the responsibility of choice,” said Whitener who has performed more than 6,500 shows all over the world. “We want to remind people that they have the choice to do what’s right in any situation. I think we understand that on some level, but we need it reinforced from time to time.”
Marine volunteers were pulled from the audience to become the “stars of the show.”
“I remember dancing like Elvis and I didn’t even care,” said Sgt. Ian Manion, a training noncommissioned officer here. “Now I feel like a million bucks, completely relaxed and refreshed.”
While Manion and the other Marine volunteers danced, sang and otherwise acted a fool, their fellow Marines laughed and gathered blackmail material.
“It was entertaining to watch these usually serious guys make complete [fools] out of themselves,” said Sgt. Jerod Mann, the force ammunition NCO here.
As embarrassing as some of the stunts were, it was all in good fun.
“I knew people were laughing at me, but while I was under … I was having as much fun as they were,” Manion said.
While it was mostly fun and games, Whitener wanted to drive home the idea that even in rough situations the individual will ultimately decide how he will think and act.
“He showed that you have control,” said Manion. “At the very end when he told me that my hands were stuck to my leg, I couldn’t let go. Then he said ‘you have control,’ it dawned on me. I do have control, and I was able to pull my hands free.”
Whitener said he wants people to understand that what they think they are they will become.
“If you think negatively, you will act negatively,” he said. “It’s that simple. Some people just choose not to think.”
According to Whitener, who studied clinical hypnosis at Bailer Medical School, military personnel make excellent candidates for hypnosis.
“They are already conditioned to respect authority, listen and respond to commands,” he added. “It makes my job easy.”
Whitener wants to continue performing for Marines.
“They need a laugh,” he said. “Life for them is pretty grim and serious, but that’s why I love performing for them.”