Hell of a Guy
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them - Isaac Asimov

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Military Daze


Back in 1963 serving in the United States military for a young American male was looked at as a rite of passage.  So, one day, at the tender age of 19 years, 7 months, and 6 days, I enlisted in the United States Air Force.  I was excited about what lay ahead, about the classy uniform I would wear and about the amazing training I would receive in one of the “career fields” I had chosen with the guidance of my recruiter (that son-of-a-bitch).

On September 16th at about 8pm I left the induction center at Fort Holabird, Maryland with 100 or so fellow recruits and traveled to Friendship Airport outside of Baltimore, as BWI was then called, to board a TWA Constellation for the long flight to San Antonio, Texas and Lackland Air Force Base.  Having taken an oath to “solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God,” I was ready to man up; to be the best I could be; to serve my country, and to look good in my USAF uniform.

We arrived in San Antonio in the wee hours of the next morning and immediately boarded a bus that would take us to the base and our first day of Basic Training.  I am not sure what I expected to find at the Air Force Reception Center, but what I got was 180 degrees from any expectation I might have had.  As I exited the bus with my fellow recruits and hearing the voice of some jerk yelling at the top of his lungs, I suddenly realized I had made a grievous error in judgment.  I knew within seconds of stepping off the bus this boy was never meant to be in the military.  The “Gestapo” types who were there to “welcome” us spoke only in deafening, abusive tones.  I did not enlist to be told upon my arrival that I was a useless, brainless, stupid piece of shit.  This was not what I wanted to hear at 4:30 in the morning.  It was not my best Tuesday ever, but more like the end of the world as I knew it…and it was.  It was the longest day of my life, and it is still very vivid in my memory. 

Shortly after arriving there for Basic Training I discovered a four-year calendar I could fold small enough to carry in my wallet.  For four years I took it out every day and crossed off that day with a little “x” mark.  This little action helped to make it the longest four-year period of my life.  I thought it would never end. 

My Air Force career lasted only for the time I agreed to serve with my enlistment.  The career field I ended up in was not one I had selected with the assistance of that SOB recruiter.  To say he lied through his teeth with a smile would be a gross understatement; he would have made a great politician.  My time in the military did provide me with some truly great life experiences.  Among these some were quite useful at the time, but not so much any longer - I learned how to march in step with a group of with 50-60 others, clean floors with a tooth brush, arise in the middle of the night with a smile as some idiot beat on a metal trash can lid with a stick, and to keep all of my earthly belongings in a wooden box 3’x2’x2’, and I must not forget to mention how I learned to eat some sumptuous meals like over-cooked liver and “shit on a shingle.”  My how I do not miss those days, but I must admit some good things happened to me in between my enlistment and my discharge.

To think this occurred 50 years ago this month is to me mind boggling.  Time really does fly.  In fact, 50 years ago today I would have had seven little “x” marks on calendar.

And that is all I have to say about that…