No, not this...
Nor even this...
More like this...
You know, when I joint the Navy.*
Guess where I got this brilliant post idea from?
As I grew and progressed through elementary school, junior high school, and high school, I had many experiences. Some great, some not so great, most pretty much standard growin' up fare.
I learned to love history, science, math and English, pretty much in that order. I wrestled and played football. FFA and 4-H. Bought a beautiful one-owner '69 Torino and ruined it with mags, fat white letter tires and side pipes. All the while I was biding my time. The sea sang a powerful song to me.
The school's career counselor wasn't down with the whole dark path thing. In his humble opinion, the only path to success led through college. The military was for, well, those kind of people; the knuckle dragging, mouth breathing dregs of society.
Of course, as a failed hippie and a tiny fish in a minuscule pond, he wasn't really the best example of that particular pathway to great success.
By some form of miraculous intervention I figured out how to join the Navy without official guidance or sanction.
A few days after graduation I jumped in my Torino and drove to the recruiting office in Scottsbluff. I knew enough to bring my birth certificate, social security card, and drivers license.
It was a good day for the Navy recruiter; there were six of us who thought we wanted to be sailors. He sat us down to take the ASVAB while he began typing up forms according the documents we presented.
We finished the test and he sent us to get some lunch while he hammered away on the typewriter. While we were gone he graded the test.
When we returned he gave us our scores. Five of us passed. The recruiter told the guy who failed that he could either study up for a few weeks and retake the test, "Or you can talk to this guy," he said, waving the Army recruiter into the room.
"Yeah, I'll talk to him."
Then the recruiter set up appointments for each of us to return the next day to finish and sign our enlistment contracts. He told us we could back out until the point where we boarded the bus to MEPS, after that we were stuck. "So think about it," he said. "If you come back for your appointment tomorrow you'll get a bus ride to Denver, do the physical and be sworn in the next day, and then be in boot camp the day after that."
So the next day I caught the bus, spent the night in a hotel in Denver, and went through the delightful physical the next day. The main memory I have of that is being one of about a hundred nekkid guys who were told to turn around and grab our ankles while the examiner inspected our brains with a flashlight.
|That third guy from the left is the one who decided to talk to the Army recruiter!|
I know there was a bunch of hurry up and wait, and I think I remember a guy (who I assume was a psychiatrist) asking me if I liked boys or girls. Most of the experience is just a blur to me now.
I do remember how it ended though. A couple-dozen of us were herded into nice room with military pictures on the wall and a flag-flanked lectern up front. Some really high-up officer dude entered and strode to the lectern. "Arright fellas, raise your right hands and repeat after me..."
Those of us who were able to survive the Swearing of the Oath of Enlistment were broken up into groups of six and each group was eventually herded into a cab which delivered us to Denver Stapleton. I can't remember if I was the squad leader/envelope bearer or not. Part of me thinks I was, part of me thinks I wasn't.
At Stapleton we checked in at the Western Airlines counter and were directed to a gate. Eventually a 727 pulled up, disgorged people who weren't in the military, then boarded a bunch of other people who weren't in the military. Plus six of us who were going to boot camp.
It wasn't my first time on an airliner, but it was in the first five. Sitting down and with my seat belt fastened I had the first real opportunity of the day to think about what I'd done and wonder about what was coming next.
I wasn't scared, and I was really happy to be finally embarking on my dream and adventure. But I was pretty nervous. I'd read books and seen movies. I knew there was an ordeal in front of me, and that I'd be tested in ways I couldn't yet imagine. I worried about whether or not I'd be able to make the grade.
It was dark when we landed at Lindbergh Field. Our little group sought and found the Military Check In Desk, and within a half-hour we boarded a (white as I recall) Navy bus. Ten or 15 minutes later we drove through the gates of NTC San Diego.
* I have no idea why I find this so amusing.