It’s a war zone around here!

Have you ever looked back and realized that you’d dodged a bullet – or quite possibly an IED?

Què hi ha darrera una porta tancada? // What's...
(Photo credit: ~Oryctes~)

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.

Army training
(Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

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.

Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle on Exercise ...
(Photo credit: Defence Images)

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.


  1. Some of the time, it just seems life happens and throws curves our way for a reason that is immediately clear, but most often, not. It is what it is and what it was – the question is: and what of your now? And perhaps your tomorrow?

    Interesting post – thanks for sharing – especially the more personal pieces.

  2. Couldn’t agree more! Declaring war on terror always smacked to me of a promise to catch the wind – spurious and grandiose rhetoric to muddy the waters around less-admirable motives. And if I’m now drummed out of WordPress, so be it.We were there too, people on both sides died, and all that’s left is a mess.

    • It reminded me of the so-called “war on drugs”, where it was a lot of politicians paying lip service and implementing useless programs in an effort to distract the people from figuring out what they were really doing, and then when people started saying “it’s really about the oil”, I was standing there going, “no kidding.”

      • The oil – Bush’s well-documented obsession with Iraq – a knee-jerk reaction – political expediency in the face of public outrage – a touch of all four… Whichever way, there was no moral high ground involved when nobody paused for even a second to ask why 9/11 happened. Was it really religious fanaticism, or was there a more practical or eithical grievance that was never addressed? Would it have been so terrible to run up a white flag for a moment and ask what it was all about and whether a more peaceful solution was possible? Hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides might have been saved, and billions of dollars might even now have been bolstering the economy. One thing’s been proved beyond doubt: it was nothing to do with Saddam Hussein.

  3. […] I joined the Army in 1999. That lasted thirty days exactly, and as it turned out I wasn’t fit for it. That was a little different because I felt like I was on an adventure – until they said they were sending me home. It was like “hey, I’m joining the military!” And then I got there and I thought, “I thought it was going to be like this, but now I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea . . . ” again, I learned a lot in that month, but would I have done it, had I known? Probably not. Who wants to waste their time? […]

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