Like a lot of people I volunteered of military service for economic reasons. After finishing college in the late 70’s the economy sucked. I continued my education for a couple of years hoping things would improve in the job market. It didn’t. I wanted to work in my chosen career field which was marketing. I found a part time job in advertising (a really small firm) close to where my folks lived and otherwise I stocked shelves in a grocery store to make a little money. There wasn’t much of a future for either endeavor. At least I didn’t see it.
After a wild hair moment, I went to see an Air Force recruiter. Why that branch? My older sister was an officer. She eventually retired as a Colonel.
I thought I could get in as an officer. Trouble was they weren’t accepting marketing people. In other words my degree was not math, engineering or anything they really wanted. My vision wasn’t great enough to qualify for flying – I’m partially color blind. Besides, I’m afraid of heights. Yeah, I know it seems silly that I’d be thinking Air Force. But, anyway, after taking recruiter he suggested I take the entrance examination the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) for enlistment and consider getting into OTS from inside the service. My sister had done it that way.
I scored high on the test and so when they processed me through my physical they also wanted me to take some other tests in morse code and languages. I scored pretty high in foreign language aptitude, which was ironic since I had been turned down for a job with Bank Of America’s International Division because they didn’t think I had sufficient language ability. Go Figure.
I was a Chinese Cryptologic Linguist Specialist in military intelligence. The job was important but it sounds a lot more interesting than it really was. I spent a lot of time in Asia, of course, half of my brief four year career. And like a lot of veterans I can’t discuss some of the things I did for security reasons. Again, that makes everything sound a lot more mysterious and interesting than it really was.
My experiences while in the military I wouldn’t trade for the world but thinking back I probably wouldn’t do it over again. It is potentially dangerous work regardless of what you do or where you serve. In time of war it is extremely dangerous. I have always had the utmost respect for anyone who served but particularly those who fought in foreign wars.
So, on this Veteran’s Day please remember to thank those who also served. The reason you are free to do what you do everyday is because others have and still are sacrificing their young lives away from family and home to defend and protect our way of life.
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