The Older I Get, The More I Reflect

December 27, 2005

The older I get, the more I reflect. For some reason a few days ago I began to think about my army days. My serial number began with RA, which means Regular Army. It also means I enlisted of my own free will. The draft was in effect back them, but I had this wild idea that at 17 I needed my freedom!. I had been a handful for my dad. He was frustrated just enough to sign for me to go in at such a young age. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the Army was the last place I should have gone to secure my freedom.

I had told my recruiter that I want to do something in the Army that I could use when I got out. I suggested heavy equipment operator. He said OK, and I ended up in Armor – Tanks! Have you ever seen a Tank on a construction site? Me neither.

It finally hit me that I was in the Army and would be for three years like it or not. So I tried to make the best of it. I moved through the ranks at a pretty good clip for a kid. I was a Specialist Five after two years. (That is the equivalent of a buck sargent.) I went to NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) academy and that helped. There were four position on a Tank, Loader, the guy that puts the 105 round in the breach. The driver, what he does should be obvious. The Gunner, the guy that sites the target and pulls the trigger. And finally, the Tank commander. He has the highest vantage point on a tank and shoots the 50 Caliber machine gun mounted on the turret. During my stint, I had all four positions.

I dug out my DD214 (all military personal have one that is a record of their time served.) I began to search the web to see if I could learn anything about my old unit. With the exception of one battalion, the old 68th. Armor, the unit is history. But I did find a Yahoo group for the 68th. What a blast. They all served with some part of the 68th. at one time or another. They live all over the country, and though I didn’t serve with any of them it has kind of been like old home week. We share our stories and pictures and reflect.

It has now been forty years since I was in the Army. I rotated out in October of 1965. I just missed Vietnam by a matter of months. Many of my unit ended up there.

As I reflect on my time in the military I am thankful. I am thankful it aided me in growing up. Basic training did in a few weeks what my parents had not been able to do for 17 years. It made me realize what was important in my life. Family, Friends, and My girl! Barb and I married during my military years. I am thankful that it pointed out the importance of God in my life. Without Him I would not have made it through that time. I am also thankful I missed Vietnam. Those were tough years for soldiers who served during that period. Soldiers always pay a price, but few ever paid the price that Vietnam vets paid.

The older I get, the more I reflect.


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