Veteran’s Day was Saturday and there was the usual acknowledgement in Church Sunday morning. I didn’t stand this year. I’ve made myself stand for the last few years, but not Sunday. I was glad to see several more women standing and I suppose out of solidarity I should have stood. I’m always conflicted about my service. It’s my own weird sort of Stolen Valor Syndrome.
The military services became all volunteer in 1973. With the draft eliminated, the military was less free to turn away candidates. I think the real thought was that if we didn’t maintain a huge standing Army, there would be less need for one. Too bad evil doesn’t think like that. Anyway, Viet Nam was winding down and the country was weary so the military wound down as well. I went to basic training in January of 1977. One day after Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president.
I spent nine weeks in Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base outside of San Antonia, Texas. Then went, by school bus, to Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas. Yes, I managed to hit all the garden spots of Texas in winter. My first experience with Class 100 tornadoes was at Sheppard. I hate tornadoes. After a bout of German Measles that put me in the hospital and put me back five days in my training, I went to Mountain Home AFB, in Idaho. There I schlepped tools and training records for the rest of my “tour.” I left the service the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in.
There were no hot spots, emergencies, insurgencies, no “cies” at all during my four-year tour of duty. We practiced in what was called “mobility training.” We all had to have our bags ready to go if all hell broke loose somewhere outside the U. S. I did have dog tags to identify my body if the worst happened. But, all I really did was maintain a place for the next person to come along and serve. And, ideally, that’s what you want. Just keep the lights on and wheels greased, just in case.
People did die in covert military actions during my four years but not in in “battle.” Overtly, things were quiet. We know there are covert activities because there are always covert operations being planned, executed and mopped up, no matter how peaceful it may look on the news.
This is my struggle. Saying I was in the Air Force, served one four-year TOD, and that I worked in Wing Training is disappointing for the hearer. Wing Training doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as Forward Operating Forces, or munitions. And, it’s not.
“So, you pushed paper.” Yup, that’s what I did. I helped to keep the clattery operation clattering along by scheduling people in fire suppression, small arms, and various duty-specific classes. I stood guard over freedom by entering it all key-by-key in a pre-internet computer system that ran on punch cards, daisy wheel printers, and miles of continuous-feed computer paper. I kept the bureaucracy humming along to keep you safe. All the offers of, “Thank you for your service,” are rather sad. They read like compliments to someone at the DMV for not making a hash of your license renewal. So, I sat this year.
Oh, and if you read last week’s screed on Amazon taking it’s sweet time getting me my paint sprayer, it finally came LAST NIGHT. Fat lot of good it did my at midnight. Bill tinkered with it and even read the owner’s manual. I think they walked it over after my complaint. Amazon, Google, Face Book, and Twitter. GAFT the Overlord has a nice ring to it.