13 September 2009

Twenty-four years ago today...

  ...I enlisted in the US Army. On Friday, 13 September 1985, I took a flight from Albany, NY to Atlanta, GA. I got on a civilian bus chartered by the Army to take enlistees to Ft. Benning for basic training. I was under the delusion that I wanted to make the Army a career, go to OCS, and really make a difference. After 13 weeks at Fort Benning, I graduated from Infantry OSUT on Friday, 13 December 1985, and decided I was going to do my 2 years & GTFO.

   Don't get me wrong. It was a really good experience. I tested all my limits short of actual combat. (I was in 85-87 with a year in the National Guard after my 2 yr enlistment was up.) It changed the way I look at things.

   First of all, anyone who serves in uniform is special. (I don't mean that I'm special because of it; I mean, that when I see someone who serves or has served, I regard him/her as special.) It means something to have voluntarily offered to put yourself in harm's way to protect/defend, etc. It means even more if you've been in combat.

   Second, although every serviceman has his/her complaints about his branch, MOS, unit, etc., it's a bit rankling when others, especially fellow servicemen, make public, derogatory comments about a particular branch, MOS, or unit. I had my own bitches to make about the 25th Infantry Division (LIGHT), but to this day, it annoys me when I hear someone say, "Hey, I served with some officers from the 25th, and they were idiots." I'm not stupid enough to get into an argument over some disparaging comment about people who served 20+ years after I did, but I tend to think less of the person making the ill-advised comment. And don't get me started on a civilian criticizing some aspect of the military. Wrong or right, my first instinct is to tell the aforesaid civilian to STFU and GTFO. Seriously.

   Lastly, to this day, I have trouble watching movies that feature military units. Any little mistake in the way uniforms are represented, any deviation from proper military procedure or etiquette bugs me. An Infantry officer in class Bs with no Blue Cord -- Fail! And saluting? There are a lot of soldiers who never get it quite right. (I got a head inclination thing going when I salute...)  But actors. Holy shit. Even with whatever training they get from technical advisors, most of them just suck at saluting...

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