I didn’t have a particularly eventful career in the United States Army but I certainly have memories of being an active duty serviceman and certain historical events that were taking place. I had my basic training at Fort Ord, California during arguably the hottest months of the area. The day after being sworn into the United States Army, I was among a busload of recruits who were sent over to Fort Ord. Shortly after we arrived, we were subjected to the typical scenes you might see in a movie about basic training. When we got off the bus, drill sergeants were yelling at us like crazy to get us in a comical example of a military formation. I seem to recall that same day we had to pick up our Army gear: boots, helmets, jackets, pants etc. and then get assigned to our respective barracks. I do recall that the following day we marched over to the barbershop and got that obligatory buzz cut. It was a fairly rude transition but eventually I got over it and accepted what I had gotten myself into. Back then basic training was significantly longer than it is today. It was tough and brutal but I was proud when we all completed the 12 weeks of training.
After advanced training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, my next destination was to Nurnberg in the former West Germany, back when the Berlin Wall was still up. During my long stay in Germany, an important event in US history occurred. The Viet Nam War was still being fought and we were still in the middle of the Cold War. But what had occurred stateside was also significant. In August of 1974, exactly a year after I had sworn in, President Richard Nixon resigned from office, the first and only time a United States President resigned from the presidency.
As we approach the 10th Anniversary of September 11th, I look back at my time as a soldier. But I also think of the men and women who currently serve our country while overseas and those who have perished. The tragic events of September 11, 2001 prompted a surge of enlistments for all facets of the United States Armed Forces and many of those enlistees were shipped overseas. Since fighting began in both Afghanistan and Iraq, over 6,200 US military men and woman have died.
On Sunday, September 11, 2011, not only will I honor those who perished on September 11, 2001, I will also honor and salute all those who have served our country.