Wednesday, March 27, 2019

It could have been worse

OK. This is random. Forty-eight years ago today was a Saturday. It was the last weekend at home before shipping out to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.

I could count on my hands the number of times I'd been more than 30 miles from home. My family went to the beach a few times, and I'd been to Georgia twice. My family lived in Indiana for just over a year when I was in kindergarten. My Uncle Garland invited me to ride to Arkansas with him one time. He was a long-distance truck driver and he needed someone to help keep him awake. Riding in his truck was rough. I think my teeth rattled for days after we returned. The next time he asked, I made up a lame excuse for staying at home. I checked truck driving off of my list of possible careers.

But in March of 1971, I was leaving home for at least two years. Vietnam was winding down, but there were still troops in the country. I had no idea where I would end up, but it was exciting in a strange sort of way.

Basic Training was an experience. For the first time in my life, I lived with a mixing bowl of men. We were all colors and from all corners of the country. I think we all had pictures of our girlfriends in our wallets.

For the next two years, I was exposed to things I'd never experienced before or since. I had mixed feelings about serving in the military.

When I got out, it took me a long time before I would wear green. I didn't cut my hair for a long time.

But when I got ready to get a job, the Army paid part of my salary for job training.

And when I decided to go to college, the Army paid for a chunk of my tuition.

The job  I got with MaBell, was because I was a veteran.

Sometimes on Facebook, I see threads that say we should bring back the draft. I don't weigh in. Had you asked me back in 1972 what I thought of the draft, I would have filled your ears. But these days I can say there were a great many things that could have happened to me that would have been worse.


  1. My travels had been all the way to ALAbame from NC. And yes, that boot camp shock is something. I had to smile at the ride to Ark. in the truck. My brother, a truck driver, asked me once to go with him to keep him awake on a long run. My same reactions.
    Life is good. The different experiences make it very real.
    Good entry!
    Sherry & jack

  2. I was very happy to get a 1Y and later a good draft number. THe army can have benefits and even straighten out some young men, but then there is that getting shot at thing. I hope we never need the draft again...I wish we didn't need a military at all but unfortunately freedom demands it.

    Thank you for your service. Glad you did get something out of your sacrifice.

  3. I remember there was actually a time in my teen years that I wanted to go into the Army. I chickened out when I was told that “once I get in, I can’t get out.” That scared me enough to not go. Now days I think they have made it too easier for those that join, but I do not think thats necessarily a good thing.

  4. I don't remember if you actually were in Vietnam bu, regardless, being in the army during any war can sober a man up pretty quickly. Many don't ever talk about it with so many having found solace in the bottle or drugs. i know my dad, a veteran of WW2, said that if my brother was ever drafted, he would ship him way up north to some cabin.

  5. I cannot give an impartial opinion. The draft was not kind to my family nor to many young men we knew.

    1. I understand. Every situation is different. Had I been deployed to Vietnam, my outcome and my story could have been worse.

  6. Thank you for serving. I remember the draft well as I watched my 2 older brothers ship out and go to Vietnam...thankfully both returned and have lived wonderful lives. They also received some perks for their service but at the time I think they too would have traded staying home for going to war.

  7. Also , thank you for serving in the military. My father was in WW 2 and none of my brothers were in Vietnam, thankfully.


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