allegro non troppo -(L) fast, but not too fast
That Latin phrase is usually an aside reserved for a stage performer and not generally descriptive of one's military career. As an after thought, that sentence I should redress; to be fair, my service time was only a tour of duty, hardly worthy of being referred to as a career.
I am humbled to contribute to this blog as a mere enlisted man who simply wished to fulfill his military obligation and to return to civilian life as fast as possible. Jack, the creator of this blog, dedicated a fair portion of his life to a military career, I, I gave only a sliver.
Don't get me wrong, I did not resent the military or my time serving my country. Back then, going into the service was practically a rite of passage. Of course, there was also ... the draft!
Now, while those who did had their reasons, I felt that I could never have lowered myself to actively or defiantly avoid my obligation. It never crossed my mind to declare myself a conscientious objector, to burn my draft card or to flee to Canada; I would have never been able to sleep knowing I would have been acting in cowardice.
They didn't call that era "the turbulent sixties" for nothing. The fly in the ointment was our country's military involvement in Vietnam, a small country in Southeast Asia that most of us would have been unable to find on a map. The prevailing sentiments were that we didn't belong over there. This was evidenced by the violent protests and it was the theme of our music's lyrics. For What It's Worth by the Buffalo Springfield was adopted as the anthem of protest.
February 15, 1968, on my 18th birthday I received that dreaded envelope from Uncle Sam. You know the one, it begins with "Greetings." I had 30 days before I was to report to the nearest Army Recruiting office. On the 25th day I walked into the nearest Navy Recruiting office and enlisted for 4 years. I was of the mindset that four years in the Navy would be a lot healthier than to accept being drafted into the Army for two years.
I never saw action. Even though I was a half a world away from any conflicts while I was serving my country, I was no less out there doing my part to protect my country.
The accounts that I will post here will be mostly anecdotal: some funny, some sad and some dramatic. The title I used? At times my time in the service seemed to linger, but in the end those four years seemed to pass rather quickly. There were no regrets.
Allegro non troppo.