Hello Space Cadets, I wanted to take a moment to write a hard post. Anyone who has read my posts knows that I proudly served my country in the US Army. I enlisted into the US Army Reserves as an 88K (Watercraft Operator) in a riverine squadron when I was 17 years old. I was in a unit that was supposed to provide direct support to infantry units so I was sent to Fort Benning, GA for Infantry OSUT and given infantry as a secondary MOS. Then I was off to my watery school of Navy lite training.
For those of you who don’t know, the Navy boatswain’s mates have a playful animosity with their enginemen. We call our boatswains mates “watercraft operators” and have the same competition with our 88L’s. Sure, we call them Watercraft Engineers, but it’s all the same flavor with a different name. Add to that, the typical Army-Navy rivalry…and you have a Thanksgiving with enough playful stones to throw to sink a skiff!! Imagine my Dad’s horror when I told him I would honor his twenty years of Naval service as an Engineman (EN1) by joining the Army…as a boatswain’s mate.
The joke was on me, however, because when I started college and transferred to the local unit. When I reported in, I was told that unit I was assigned to had shut down in the early 80’s. Someone forgot to tell the Army. Because the Army needed drivers, I was laterally transferred into an 88M (Large Wheeled Vehicle Operator) and sent to a second AIT. I did okay, though I never could learn to back up the M915. That is your basic 18-wheeler, if it wasn’t painted green and riddled with Army jargon on its bumper. While trying to, I accidently knocked over a row of porta-potties. I had listened to my ground guide, so it technically wasn’t my fault. Sadly, the sergeant major covered in blue goo from the potty he was in when it tipped wasn’t so quick to forget. The next day was our shooting while driving drill, a useful skill in Iraq. I passed, highest grade in the battalion. As a reward for my skills with my rifle, I was transferred into the infantry. They were kind enough to award me the 88M designator as a going away present; for the promotion points.
When I got back to in processing for my new assignment, they asked us who wanted light vs heavy infantry. Lightbulb moment, I didn’t want to carry as much! Light infantry it was! Jokes on me, they carry MORE since they don’t have the heavy support of armored vehicles. I spent the rest of my career bent over at the waist with a full rucksack, loving the suck. No regrets. Even after getting hurt in Iraq and medically discharged as unfit for continued service. I’d gladly do it all over again, though maybe I would duck when the IED goes off? Nah, shit was getting real and I had a mission to accomplish.
I mentioned this, so you would understand where I’m coming from when I say what’s next.
To my brothers and sisters who held the line with me, I salute you. Today, as you receive the honors you so rightly deserve from a grateful nation and eat free food at [insert location], please take a moment to remember our brethren who weren’t so fortunate. They died that we might live, giving up their tomorrows for our todays. I know it isn’t technically Memorial Day, but were it not for their sacrifice they’d be celebrating Veterans Day with us. Maybe instead of us.
To the husbands and wives of our warriors, I apologize. In my Facebook post, I forgot to mention you. I honor you too, because those who stand and wait at home also serve. For honoring your warrior, keeping the hearth burning, I salute you. For holding him/her when the demons haunt their sleep afterwards, I honor you. For raising the next generation while we were away, I thank you. And for being something worth defending for the men/women who have the privilege of serving on the tip of the spear, I love you. Thank you.
And most importantly, to Randall. Wherever you are in the afterlife that awaits, Thank You. Your sacrifice wasn’t for nothing, two beautiful boys grace this world because of the life you saved. When they’re old enough to understand, I will tell them about you. You’ll become immortal, through the love all who lived because of what you so bravely did. Many others who were there with me would tell similar tales of blessing that couldn’t have existed without you. You are still one of us, and you are still loved.
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
—> As usual, the two images I used today can be found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.