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Thank You for Your Service

I got out of the Army in 1973 and didn't hear those words from anyone until 1998, so I just wanted to say that to all the people serving or who have served.

I was in college in 1970, and that was the first year they did the lottery for draft numbers. Everyone that was of service age got dumped in that pot in 1970. My number was 35, and if I remember right they took 60 numbers in January, and they used up all the numbers by the time the year was over.

I knew I passed the physical, so I scooted back to the draft board and asked when I might hear. She pulled up two cards on me, looked at one, and said "two weeks". I asked what the other card was and she said it was my draft notice. I asked the date on that and she said "two weeks after the other one". Yikes... 4 weeks to figure out what to do!

I made the rounds of all the recruitment offices, but in 1970 everyone had a waiting list... all the reserves, AirForce, Navy, you name it. The only branch that didn't laugh at me needing to get something arranged in 4 weeks was the Army. I took all the tests, was offered the Army Security Agency, and signed myself up for 4 years.

In 1968 when I had my first physical, I was ready to roll. I wanted to jump out of airplanes with a knife between my teeth, but luckily that didn't happen because I probably wouldn't be here to write this now! By the time 1970 came around, I was 22 and had figured out that 'Nam was probably survivable if approached correctly. Being 3 floors underground in a Comm Center for at least 8 hours a day sounded like a good idea. As it turns out, I never saw 'Nam, but at least I had a plan.

Note that my plan included giving 4 years of my life up to the service of our country. None of my plans included packing my guitar and Engineering texts up and driving to Canada.

My father was a U.S. Marine on Iwo Jima. He didn't help put up the flag, but he was close enough that he saw the first one go up, not the one for the picture. He worked with the code talkers and told me all about it when I was old enough to understand. He should have known better, but he sat me down one night and told me "I know there's a lot going on in the world, and a lot that I don't understand. I know that this is all happening in the middle of your education, and I know you have choices and decisions. I just want you to know that your decision is yours and if you decide to go to Canada, that's your decision to make. But... if you do that, make sure you take everything you want out of this house before you go because you're not coming back"... wow, thanks Dad :)

But... that was never even a remote thought. Years later my Mother suggested that she wished I'd have gone to Canada, and I told her that she obviously had not discussed that with Dad :)

So here I am 39 years later on Veteran's Day thinking about all the above. Three veterans affect my life: My grandfather was a tanker in WWI, my father was a Marine in WWII, and I wear a POW/MIA bracelet for Capt. James W. Herrick who was shot down October 27, 1969 in Laos. I proudly served during the Vietnam Era. I didn't have a choice or thought in the matter. It was my duty. I was proud to serve, and I'm proud to have served.

Thanks to all of you, and thanks Dad for bringing me up to respect my country.

Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2009 9:06 AM | Back to top

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