When I was 18 Vietnam was a full on war, but I was attending a Junior College, so I was temporarily safe from the draft. We (fellow students) were frequently reminded of that by our instructors. They used that as leverage to get our attention and to keep that grade point up or risk being dropped and face the inevitable…the evil draft.
My friend, Don Christy, was the first to drop out and as expected he was immediately drafted…into the Marines. I followed him a bit later when I was drafted into the Army, but not before I tried to join the Naval Reserve. I was rejected by the USNR because I wore dental braces, even though they were to come off in a matter of months. Unfortunately, that didn’t matter to the Navy, they simply didn’t want to assume the liability. So it was that I found myself drafted and in Oakland at the induction center a short time later.
Just before we were ready to board the bus to our new home, presumably this would be Fort Ord (a huge boot camp at the time), the sergeant asked if anyone had dental braces or appliances? I did of course, but I said nothing, wondering if I could sneak by? He asked again, and the recruits started looking at each other. I recall one of the guys saying if had known braces would keep him out he would have seen his orthodontist a long time ago! On the third sand final demand for anyone with dental appliances to step forward I finally did, fearing that if they caught me later I would just got tossed out anyway.
So here I was, left behind at the induction depot, watching as some of my good high school friends board army busses for an uncertain future in a war zone. What a freaking let down! I was mentally ready to go, I wanted to go and then there were others who would have loved to skip this adventure and stay home, but they couldn’t. Life isn’t fair is it?
As it turned out this situation was to take a sudden reversal of fortune when my braces came off. I recall being at the local EDD looking for work when I spotted a recruiting poster asking for men to apply for a special military program for the United States Navy, Military Sea Transport Service. Never heard of it before, but it looked great and if I qualified I could be doing any number of amazing things, from being on an ice breaker exploring the polar region to being on an aircraft carrier headed to Vietnam.
My Dad was a WWII Navy vet and I knew he would be proud if I could qualify. So, I tested and I scored high, beating out thousands of other applicants for this very special, very new position that would only accept a small number of people. I was the first of my kind in the USNR-MSTS training class. After my boot camp I would be attached to a Navy ship.
Upon graduation I applied for a troop ship and got it, next stop Vietnam! Wow, what luck! Unfortunately my luck didn’t hold up. We barely made it out of San Francisco when our ship blew a main sewer line and we were forced to turn around, much to the delight of those soldiers on board. But, their joy was short lived when they found out they would be boarding passenger planes and get to Vietnam even faster.
I wanted to go, I wanted to see Saigon, I wanted see everything I could and have the right to say, yeah I was there as a sailor. I was trying to be part of this war, even if it was only a small part, because to me this would be a badge of honor, Vietnam was a big deal and I was desperate to go. The soldiers disembarked our ship at NSC Oakland and the next day or two they were flown to Vietnam and we headed over to the Todd Ship Yards just across the bay for repairs.
Week after week we sat there and I felt the world was passing me by. Then came a break, the Navy was looking for volunteers (with my training) for a special mission and it came with a 10% pay increase! This had to be better than what I was doing, which was basically chipping paint and swabbing diamond deck plate in the engine room.
I lucked out, my request for transfer was accepted quickly and soon I was boarding a plane to….uh, parts unknown. Funny thing was, I was loaded on a twin engine prop plane with only 10 seats… this must be a connecting flight, I thought. No, it was the actual flight to my new base and we were soon wheels down at a remote civilian airfield near… Oxnard? Kee-rap, this was a barren, dismal looking, airfield. I could only imagine what the base looked like. From there we called a cab and were taken to Port Hueneme, CA. This was a USN Sea Bees base where almost all navy construction battalions were headed to Viet Nam. It was actually a pretty nice place, and things were really happening there. So much activity… it was a busy place!
My life was looking up once again.
We were assigned to a WWII victory ship, now refitted and designated a T-AGM-4, which had dual missions as tracking missiles fired from Point Magoo to doing picket duty off Kwajalein Island in the South Pacific. Oh no, a ship destined to go…. no where! Kee-rap again! Just long, boring, days at sea with nothing to see and little to do. See picture on right.
This story could end here, but a few years later I got a second chance with the Guard, but we never did anything either. I was never once called up to do anything, just train, train, train…boring. So I phased out of that, but years later I got a third chance. This time I wound up serving as a reserve NCO at the Joint Forces Headquarters in Sacramento. This was an army – air composite. I was placed on active duty three short times. Finally I was able to do something meaningful during times of natural disasters. My last 3 years of service was spent there more or less, aside from training, and then I was age limited out.
My friend Don from college became a radio operator in the USMC and he was killed in Viet Nam. So, despite my every effort to follow in his footsteps, fate obviously had other plans for me… boring, safe plans, but looking back it was for the best. I have a great family and now I get to spend my retired years on this blog… bugging our liberals! LOL
Not much of a tale, I admit, but then its kind of typical. Very few people in the military ever see combat….but for those that do, be they living or dead, I honor and admire them for their courageous service.
Thank you vets, all of you, past, present and future, no matter what you did, at least your served! And a very, very special thank you to all those military families who lost loved ones in the service of this great nation. We owe you more than we can ever repay, I can only hope the pain of your loss will lessen with the passage of time. What they have done will never be forgotten and in that sense they will live on in our memories. God bless and good night. -Jack
As they say, small world. I went through the induction center in Oakland as well (remember following the colored lines on the floor?). I enlisted at age 20 with two years of Junior College behind me. Then it was on the bus an off to Fort Ord for Army basic.
I’m sure I was a few years after you. I still remember our drill instructors pointedly informing us that there were no draftees in our company, so they didn’t want to hear any crap from anyone because that meant that we were all there because we WANTED to be there.
As an enlistee, I got to choose my M.O.S. so after basic went Small Arms Repair School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds (yeah, I know. This is your shocked, stunned, and amazed face). From there it was off to West Germany to fight the Cold War.
Keep breathing, keep blogging, keep bugging. If we quit, they win.
Double small world. I didn’t serve, but my husband (boyfriend then) also went to a JC after graduating from high school in 1965 trying to keep his grades up to avoid the draft. He figured if he was going to serve he’d rather have clean sheets than a fox hole so he went to the Air Force recruiting office. They told him when/if he got a draft notice if he opened it he was in the Army. If he wanted to be in the AF not to open it and bring it to them. He got the notice and handed it to the recruiter.
He too went to the Oakland induction center where he was told to fall in line. Then an Army and Marine sergeant went down the line and pulled men out who had signed up for the AF and told them they were now in the Army or Marines, because they hadn’t filled their recruiting quotas.
My boyfriend too was told he could pick his MOS so he picked meteorology and end up with mechanics because of his experience with the family’s auto and diesel machine shop. He joined the AF to see the world and ended up in Aberdeen, Tx for basic and Beale AFB assigned to the SR-71 for his whole tour.
We got married after basic and pulled a 8ft. long U-Haul behind his 1957 Ford Fairlane filled with everything our parents gave us including canned goods from their pantry shoved into every drawer or nook they would fit.
The SR-71 didn’t exist back then so he was never in Okinawa and never did missions into back country carrying classified information while being escorted by special ops teams. All of this didn’t come out until after 10 years had lapsed since his discharge.
As a daughter of a master sergeant I thought the military was great living in foreign countries and several different states. The hard part was always leaving friends and being the new kid at 10 different schools while going all four years to the same high school. My dad enlisted during WWII and retired out of Vietnam on Oct. 10, 1968, just three days before his first grandson was born.
As a wife of a military man I learned where the saying, “If the military wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one.” came from.
Every male member of my family since WWI has served in the military, with the except of my sons. One of my grandfathers lived his final years in Yountville as a mustard gas survivor. Now with a grandson and granddaughter I pray they never have to fight a war that politicians use as political gamesmanship with no intention of winning. Vietnam should have taught today’s leaders a lesson. Obviously it didn’t.
There’s an interesting book out called, “Leaders Eat Last.” I saw an interview with the author who explained in the military commanding officers eat after their men have all been fed. It showed them how valuable they were and if there wasn’t enough food they did without.
We need individuals with military experience to lead this country and serve in our Congress. I’ve personally had enough of presidents who spend millions on a weekend vacation and a congressman complain his $174,000 a year salary plus perks isn’t enough and every one of them will get their full pay for life after serving just one term. While our vets on the other hand live on the streets with PTSD and wound scared bodies and missing limbs preventing them from obtaining a job.
This new world is up side down. It’s time to turn it right side up again.
Thanks for sharing that personal message Peggy. I can sure relate to much of it and yes, the world is up side down. However, I still have faith that we can turn it right side up again, will just take awhile.
I lost 3 friends in Vietnam and many other came back addicted due to pain meds given in the field. many Many others were not so lucky.
I believe too we will turn it around. We’ve been through these times before, like in the 60s. But, to get there again we had to hit bottom to realize where we were and be willing to crawl back up from our knees. I believe we have hit bottom and proud Americans are standing up to those who want to destroy the American Dream and transform it into a socialist-type European-style nation.
We’ve been led by politician who have looked out for themselves and/or their party first and the nation second. Kennedy and Reagan were the best foreign policy leaders in my lifetime, in my opinion, with Carter and Obama being the worst.
I want a leader to know from personal experience what it’s like to be at war so they’ll understand the cost their decisions will have on both this country and its individuals. Obama refused to listen to the advice of his military advisors when he pulled all/most of the troops out of Iraq. He did so to fulfill a political promise during his second term campaign.
Bob Woodward, this last Sunday, repeated his belief, based on his investigating, that the WMDs did exist in Iraq and Bush was told the attack could be over in just a couple weeks
Bob Woodward: Bush Didn’t Lie About WMDs to Justify Iraq War:
“Former President George W. Bush did not lie about the presence of weapons of mass destruction to justify the Iraq War, journalist Bob Woodward said Sunday.
The argument has been used for years by Democrats and other detractors, but Woodward said on “Fox News Sunday” that his own 18-month investigation showed that Bush was actually skeptical that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had WMDs as Saddam claimed.
Though plenty of mistakes were made in the invasion of Iraq, Bush actually told CIA Director George Tenet, “Don’t let anyone stretch the case on WMD,” Woodward said.
The reason the United States went into Iraq was “momentum,” he said.
“That war plan kept getting better and easier, and finally at the end people were saying, ‘Hey, look, it’ll only take a week or two.'”
Though it can be argued the war was a mistake, Woodward told host Chris Wallace, “there was no lie in this that I could find.”
As for President Barack Obama’s decision to leave no residual force behind when American troops left Iraq in December 2011, Woodward indicated it would have been better to have left 10,000-15,000 troops behind as “an insurance policy” as military commanders suggested.
“We have 30,000 troops or more in South Korea still, 65 years or so after the war,” Woodward said. “When you’re a superpower, you have to buy these insurance policies, and he didn’t in this case. I don’t think you can say everything is because of that decision — but clearly a factor.”
The last three congressional and state elections are proof to me that voters are waking up to the lies this administration and the progressive movement has pandered. The presidential election is a whole different concern, because of the electoral college vote distribution. With so many states awarding the winner take all it leaves a handful deciding the outcome.
See the breakdown of states here.
I too have faith. We must follow what God commands.
International Standard Version:
“You will certainly set a king over you, whom the LORD your God will choose from among your relatives, but you must not place a foreign king over you who is not from your relatives.”
Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.
It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness.
Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time–for strength and not for drunkenness.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.
“Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.
2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
It’s a great story of life well served. So few Americans ever actually join and participate in defending our freedoms.
I was so young when I joined I never knew where my career would take me or that I would end up making it a career instead of just one enlistment. Two overseas tours later and now ten years serving as a reserve drill sergeant, I’m excited thinking about what I can do next to help the fight. The world will never be completely safe and we will always need the strongest military we can possibly have.
Peggy I agree about electing veterans but it’s a hard sell. Honorable service didn’t help Bob Dole or John McCain when they ran for President, and congressional jobs usually go to guys who were rich enough not to be in the military in the first place. There is an Iraq war vet who just got elected to State Assembly though, Devon Mathis from Visalia. The military perspective and leadership training is something we need a lot more of in government now at every level, not just those born of privilege.
Steve, thank you for your service, you are a true patriot in every sense of the word. And I agree with you about keeping America prepared. As Ronald Reagan said, “No country was ever attacked because they were too strong.”
If you really want to get into a war you could head to Ukraine. Heard the Ukrainian army is accepting volunteers and there are people in the late 60s fighting there.
Steve, there were other reasons Dole and McCain didn’t win just like there was when John Kerry ran. No amount of military experience will help a bad candidate. Unless they’re a democrat, named Kerry and picked by an incompetent president.
We need good candidates and McCain wasn’t, even with his POW service record. Don’t know enough about Dole
Currently there are 80 Members in the U.S. House of Representatives and 13 Senators who are Veterans.
Two republican vets that do impress me are Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton. And democrat Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii.
Here are some interesting stats for past and the current Congress.
By the numbers: Veterans in Congress:
Dem Rep. Gabbard: “Clearly ISIS Has Gained Momentum”:
This country could benefit with more democrats like her and get rid of the Pelosi and Waters types.
I’m really gonna have a hard time getting through this comment without using the “l” word. Bear with me.
Peggy: “Kennedy and Reagan were the best foreign policy leaders in my lifetime, in my opinion, with Carter and Obama being the worst.”
Earlier this week, you compared Benghazi with Iran-Contra. You are aware who was president during Iran-Contra, right?
Also, it’s amazing to me that your list of worsts doesn’t include Bush, who started a war based on faulty intel.
“Obama refused to listen to the advice of his military advisors when he pulled all/most of the troops out of Iraq. He did so to fulfill a political promise during his second term campaign.”
I will never understand the purpose of repeating the same falsehood, over and over, when everyone you are speaking to already knows that it is false.
I refuse to believe there is anyone on this blog who doesn’t already know that Obama pulled the troops out reluctantly, and on Bush’s timetable, or that Obama tried and failed to negotiate a longer stay in Iraq. Oh, Obama was happy to take the credit for the pull-out, because it was wildly popular at the time, but it was NOT his idea. These are all readily available facts that I have presented multiple times, including earlier this week when you attempted to spread this falsehood as well.
So what is the purpose? Why doesn’t anyone but me say anything about this? Friends don’t let friends delude themselves.
Criticize Obama for failing to negotiate with Iraq for a longer stay if you want. But he did not pull the troops out willingly.
“Bob Woodward, this last Sunday, repeated his belief, based on his investigating, that the WMDs did exist in Iraq and Bush was told the attack could be over in just a couple weeks”
Please show me in that article where Woodward says that “WMDs did exist in Iraq.” I don’t see that anywhere, and you seem to be making that part up. I see him saying that Bush didn’t lie, which is not the same thing as saying there were actual WMDs; it simply means Bush really really thought they were. (And, of course, we all know he was wrong. There were no WMDs in Iraq at the time; that is a fact.)
I’ve said myself–again, earlier this week–that I don’t believe Bush knowingly lied about our reasons for the Iraq War. I think he was misled by his advisers, including VP Dick Cheney. I think there were many red flags that the main source for the WMD claim, “Curveball,” was disreputable and not to be trusted. I think the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community utterly failed at their jobs, but the buck has to stop at the president. I think Bush wanted a reasons to invade, and convinced himself that this evidence held up. I think people are very good at convincing themselves of things that are not true, as evidenced by your comments here. And I think, had we listened to those lone voices of dissent at the time–including then-Senator Barack Obama–many more Americans and Iraqis and others would be alive today, and ISIS wouldn’t be the threat that it is.
I also think it is preposterous that you continue to scandalmonger over an attack that killed four Americans, all but calling for Obama’s impeachment over his handling of this, reaching for any evidence that might support your conspiracy theories while ignoring all the evidence against it, jumping at “smoking guns” which are neither guns nor smoking…while at the same time acting as if the Iraq War, in which thousands more were killed, which was fought for nothing, and which led to greater influence of terrorists in the region, ultimately strengthening ISIS, was simply an innocent mistake and everyone should just get over it.
I don’t understand. Explain it to me.
Chris #11: “I don’t understand. Explain it to me.”
That’s easy. You either didn’t watch the video, I posted earlier in another article, where Bill Clinton says Iraq has WMDs or you choose to deny it so you can keep being a good water boy by repeating an out and out lie by blaming Bush for doing exactly what Clinton said needed to be done. Here is the video one more time. Be sure to watch also the next video where a LONG succession of democrats state emphatically their strong belief Hussein did have WMDs. Hopefully after this you will change your tune about Bush. He just did what Clinton says in the video he would do.
If not I really don’t care what you think and believe, because no amount of truth and facts will convenes you
Bill Clinton: Clear Evidence of Iraqi WMD Program:
Dems Confirm Hussein’s WMD’s:
If you’re still denying ALL of the above democrats were telling the truth about the overwhelming evidence of the WMDs existence then watch this 44 minute documentary. If this doesn’t do it just continue to live in your little lala land world as a card carrying progressive liberal.
Warning: This video is not for wimps or truth deniers.
The Hussein Family From Life To Death – Horrors of Hussein – Full History Documentary:
Re #10: “I’ve said myself–again, earlier this week–that I don’t believe Bush knowingly lied about our reasons for the Iraq War. I think he was misled by his advisers, including VP Dick Cheney
Utter nonsense. Cringe inducing nonsense.
I refer you to the joint resolution of both houses of congress —
Peggy, before you say anything else, please tell me: you are aware that there were no WMDs in Iraq at the time of the 2003 invasion, correct?
“That’s easy. You either didn’t watch the video, I posted earlier in another article, where Bill Clinton says Iraq has WMDs or you choose to deny it so you can keep being a good water boy by repeating an out and out lie by blaming Bush for doing exactly what Clinton said needed to be done…Hopefully after this you will change your tune about Bush. He just did what Clinton says in the video he would do.”
I did watch the video the first time you posted it, but wasn’t sure how to respond without insulting you.
The problem with your argument is that Clinton did do exactly what he said needed to be done to target Saddam’s WMD program. It was called Operation Desert Fox, and I don’t know how it’s possible that you’ve never heard of it, as it took place directly after the speech you cited. The entire purpose of that operation was to reduce Iraq’s capacity to produce WMDs.
Now, you could argue against the necessity and/or effectiveness of that operation. But your argument–that Bush was justified in invading Iraq in 2003 because Clinton argued that Iraq had WMDs in December 2008–is dependent on the premise that Operation Desert Fox never happened. That you would not only venture such an argument, but do so with an attitude of pride and act as if you have just proven your case, is amazing to me. Simply amazing.
You have yet to explain why you have continued to claim that Obama willingly pulled out the troops from Iraq when you know this is not true; I expect your explanation for this to be equally fascinating.
Fascinating. Evidently the great *** not only believes that Cheney was responsible for the Iraq war but also believes that Obama was forced to remove troops from Iraq.
“Fascinating. Evidently the great *** not only believes that Cheney was responsible for the Iraq war but also believes that Obama was forced to remove troops from Iraq.”
Since both of those things are factually true, I’m not sure what you find so fascinating, other than yourself.
Re #15: Since both of those things are factually true, I’m not sure what you find so fascinating, other than yourself.
Absolute nonsense. But then you have always been exceptional when it comes to spouting absolute nonsense, no?
Addenda to the above: It is also fascinating how Chris always promotes a narrow and flawed analysis that fit he prejudiced and bigoted left wing world view. It is his forte. In this particular case the events surrounding the lead up to the Iraq war.
Dang, how did I miss that sloppy grammar in #17? I re-write on the fly too much. Oh well…
By the way, thank you for your service Jack. Not everyone gets to be a warrior and see action.
The war in Vietnam (not actually a formal “war” as most know) was very badly conducted. It is my opinion that the war was won after the slam down victory of the Tet Offensive but then lost at home.
The war in Vietnam was lost at home due to the successful activity of “filth” column communists and the American left as well as a terrible conduct of the war under Kennedy and Johnson. Like Obama now in Iraq, Nixon abandoned South Vietnam. “Peace With Honor” my ***.
I was there. I associated with Marxists. I know of which I speak.
Thank you Pie. I was happy to serve, seemed like the right thing to do, even though I never went beyond being a reserve and never doing anything remotely dangerous.
Today, I think the military is a wonderful place for our graduates to start out, then most of them will move on to other things. But, they learn a good work ethic and its helps them have a little pride in their country. It’s a good way to start life, I wish everyone would give a year or two.
I’m not even going to bother backing up the fact that Dick Cheney was the chief architect if he Iraq War–that’s an established fact, and if somehow you’ve managed to plug your ears long enough to not know that, well Google is a thing that exists.
I don’t think I should have to back up the fact that Obama left Iraq on Bush’s timetable, and that he did so unwillingly after failing to negotiate for a longer stay, because again: Google, but here you go anyway.
Since I haven’t said it yet (a truly egregious oversight for which I can’t apologize enough): Thank you for your service, Jack.
Thank you Chris, but again I must say, I did next to nothing in terms of defending our country. I kinda feel like I am being thanked for the truly commendable combat service of others. I never was in life and death situations, except maybe for that dang paper-cutter in the generals office, oh and except for law enforcement, but that doesn’t really count for this particular day.
The United States Marine Corps is a part of the United States Department of the Navy. When asked “Which part?” Marines are likely to reply “The men’s department!” Perhaps. This one is for Jack—
And another example that some things never change–
When Camargo was reached, we found a city of tents outside the Mexican hamlet. I was detailed to act as quartermaster and commissary to the regiment. The teams that had proven abundantly sufficient to transport all supplies from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande over the level prairies of Texas, were entirely inadequate to the needs of the reinforced army in a mountainous country. to obviate the deficiency, pack mules were hired, with Mexicans to pack and drive them. I had charge of the few wagons allotted to the 4th infantry and of the pack train to supplement them. There were not men enough in the army to manage that train without the help of Mexicans who had learned how. As it was the difficulty was great enough. The troops would take up their march at an early hour each day. After they had started, the tents and cooking utensils had to be made into packages, so that they could be lashed to the backs of the mules. Sheet-iron kettles, tent-poles, and the mess chests were inconvenient articles to transport in that way. It took several hours to get ready to start each morning, and by the time we were ready some of the mules first loaded would be tired of standing so long with their loads on their backs. Sometimes one would start to run, bowing his back and kicking up until he scattered his load; others would lie down and try to disarrange their loads by attempting to get on the top of them by rolling on them; others with tent-poles for part of their loads would manage to run a tent-pole on one side of a sapling while they would take the other. I am not aware of ever having used a profane explicative in my life; but I would have the charity to excuse those who may have done so, if they were in charge of a train of Mexican pack mules at the time.
2Lt U.S. Grant
Excerpt from ‘Ulysses S. Grant—Memoirs and Selected Letters’
Semper fi! once a marine always a marine!
jack it does not matter how one serves. The fact they enter into the military will always be respected. I do not know a single American who would disagree. That said these same people may not agree with the wars and that does not transfer to their respect of the men who fight them.
The Vietnam war was simple. It made money. Our troops were never allowed to actually fight it. The marines took ground and were pulled back over and over again.
The left? Johnson was a crook while he did some good socially. But This war was not a party war. This war was a sham. We all know that. Does not discount our veterans who fought honestly.
Show me a modern President who did not get killed that actually ran these wars? Eisenhower warned us of the Military Industrial Complex. After World War one the military machine needed wars to continue profit.
Europe was torn up after their WW2. We moved on to other parts of the world.
Gen Smedly Butler One of the most decorated marines wrote a book in 1934. “War is A Racket”
Well all modern war has been a racket. They are for the interest of profit. The Oil Industry Military.
We created ISIL and allot of the turmoil. Well We have bigger problems.
While the Media keeps you concentrated on ISIL there is a very dangerous situation between Us, Russia, and China brewing. That is a real war brewing and a very dangerous one. Of course it is about borders and oil.