Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Morning Vietnam!

  My August 24th post, The Cold War, indicated there was another story.  I made reference to the fact that I felt fortunate I did not spend any of my active duty military service in Vietnam. 
  I had the opportunity to attend college but being the dumb kid that I was, I didn't 'apply myself' (one of my paternal grandmother's favourite expressions).  Consequently, my grades were horrible and I judiciously opted to withdraw from college.  Problem was, the Vietnam war, oops, excuse me, 'police action' was going on (1968) and the draft was going strong.  I believe that there was a 'hotline' phone between the Registrar's office and the Selective Service Board.  Assuming I would be drafted into the Army if I didn't take some evasive action, I started enlisting into the Air Force which would reduce my chances of seeing any jungles.  Not good enough, while I was enlisting, I received my draft notice.  Normally, that would supersede my enlistment efforts and I would be on my way to Army boot camp.  However, the Army had my grandmother to reckon with.  When she heard the news, she was afraid that I would be doomed in Vietnam and never make it back alive.
  It just so happened that 'gram' was tight with Senator Ed Muskie of Maine and she wrote him a letter expressing her concerns.  Basically it said that I had a great desire to join the Air Force and apply my technical talents and I shouldn't be inducted into the Army.  Well, it worked, the draft notice went away and I found myself on a plane heading to Lackland AFB, Texas.  It happened so fast, that I got to the base before the paperwork did.  That caused some confusion and the remaining four years in the Air Force was always an adventure.  After I was discharged from active duty, I was in the inactive reserves for two years (which required nothing) and then did Air National Guard for 17 years.  Following through with retiring from the military was one of the smartest things I ever did.  It might even make up for dropping out of college.
  In retrospect, I did have some remorse about being rerouted away from the Army.  I wondered about the guy that took my place and hoped he made it home okay.
  Finally, I want to add that it would do anyone good to spend a couple of years in the military.  It builds character, responsibility and maturity.  And adding national guard service to the blend makes it all the better.

2 comments:

  1. The only career interests I've ever had were in the arts or education. The brief interest I had in entering the military was shot down when I told the recruiter about my heart murmur. It's good to know that I might never have been born if not for Great-Grandma's intervention on Dad's behalf.
    --Brent

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  2. Oh, and by the way, I love this story about my dad's draft dodge and subsequent devoted military service, and I tell this story to people all the time.
    --Brent

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