Have you ever looked back and realized that you’d dodged a bullet – or quite possibly an IED?
Now, as for myself, I feel no shame in admitting that I’m glad it went down this way, but some people may judge me for it. That’s the risk you take whenever you are truthful; so be it.
I really dodged a bullet when it came to serving in the armed forces. It all started in high school when I decided I would join the Marine Corps after graduation. I scored in the 98th percentile on my ASVAB and was told I could basically write my own ticket; the only problem was that my recruiter was dead set on getting me to lose some weight. I went to the processing center on three occasions and came in a few pounds over every time. I gave up out of frustration, and so in 1995 I did not join the military.
That would have been a decent time for a four-year stint. I would have been done in 1999, which is coincidentally when I tried again – this time for the proper Army. I’d looked at the Air Force, but they told me in no uncertain terms that my job possibilities would be severely limited due to the nature of the misdemeanor that had become part of my criminal record by that time. In ’99 the Army recruiter told me that my life would be a lot easier if I could lose some weight, and come in under the 188-pound mark. When I called him a few months later and told him I was at 165, he said “damn, I told you to lose some weight, not cut off half your ass!” Apparently there’s some concern over losing weight too fast, but it turned out I had done just fine in that department.
So on November 18, 1999, I left on an airplane to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I was supposed to go to Fort Benning in Georgia, and I tried to say so, but in the end I decided it would be easier to just so what they told me to do. The sun was barely ever out, it seems. There was a lot of rushing just to sit around and wait. The first two weeks were all about processing, after all. Then we started to train, and This involved a lot of physical stress, which took its toll on me. My narcolepsy reared it’s ugly head, and it became so uncontrollable I would fall asleep while standing in formation and on a few occasions, while marching. My tendency to fall asleep whenever/wherever got me noticed a lot. eventually I was sent for evaluation by a sleep specialist at the behest of our platoon’s head sergeant, who had a friend with narcolepsy. I was medically discharged, and that was that; on December 17th, 1999 I got on a plane back to Detroit.
During my month in the Army I learned a lot of stuff. I picked up a lot of good habits and managed to quell a few bad ones. I saw a guy my age have a heart attack. I met a kid who didn’t know who Michael Jackson was, which blew my mind. I learned that a lot of people judge me by how I stand, and how I carry myself – and I don’t mean that generally, I mean a couple guys told me they had the impression that I was a “rich kid” because of how straight I stood. So self-consciously, I’ve never stopped holding myself quite upright.
I also never fired a live weapon my entire time there. Basic training was rearranged to allow everyone to go home for Christmas, and so I went home before that, before live grenade training (because we were 12B combat engineers, thank you very much), and before 9/11; that’s the bullet I dodged.
I always said I’d gladly fight for my country if I agreed with the cause, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
What do you think? Do you disagree? Got any comments or questions? Let ’em rip!
This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.
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