I’ve never looked at my service in the Air Force as a sacrifice, nor as a selfless act. It was among the best years of my life and with them came many opportunities.
I came away from those days so much more the benefactor. I was blessed beyond measure to have been born in this country. It was the least I could do for it.
If I am a prideful person it’s for two reasons: I’m proud to have served in the military and I am a proud American.
On this day, while I salute all those who took the pledge — those who wear and wore the uniform — I remember especially those who I knew personally, those who never returned to their homes and family. The 6 crew members of a B-52 who frequented our fire station for the “good food and vending machines.” The F-105 pilot whose ejection seat malfunctioned killing him and another firefighter on my crew. And then finally a high school classmate, Robert Bolt “R.B.” Dickerson an 18 year old Marine killed in South Vietnam in May of 1971.
There were a few others I knew and served with who paid the ultimate price and whose names I don’t now recall. Of course there are tens of thousands more from that era and from various wars and conflicts before and after. It is them I think of today. Any other “sacrifice” pales in comparison.
Today is Veteran’s Day. Joining the military was without a doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done. I will forever be grateful that circumstance led me to that day when I swore my allegiance:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
The day before taking that solemn oath of enlistment I celebrated my 19th birthday. Like most new recruits I was young and not well prepared for those days of training, discipline, rules and the rites of passage just ahead. But, I learned a lot and even shaved for the first time during those first few weeks. I’d like to think I grew up a lot during those next four years. The military changed my life for the better and it’s been a big part of me ever since. It’s an honor to be a veteran. Continue reading