Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Dad the Army Vet

My father doesn't talk about it much, but he is a United States Army Veteran.  He joined the reserves in the mid-60s, just as the Vietnam War broke out.  He figured he would likely be drafted, and decided to join the reserves before it happened.  That's where he put his training into effect.

That's Dad at the top right center, standing tall

Dad was a smart egg.  When he was in high school, he took a typing class.  Dad could type, and he could type well.  He also knew how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, another skill that served him well during his time in the service.  You might think that these are odd skills for someone who served, but, believe it or not, these were much-needed but not very prevalent skills needed by our Armed Forces.  There just weren't very many skilled typists among our servicemen.

When Dad went to basic training, he learned a lot of survival and combat skills.  Dad was a fair athlete, and I think he took to the training well.  On one particular "mission," his unit was in the midst of a war game with another unit.  Dad and a few other soldiers were sent to out-flank the other unit, and while trudging through the woods, he realized he had lost his gas mask.  Having been through a training exercise where he experienced what it was like to not have a mask while being exposed to tear gas, he knew he needed to have his mask on him at all times.  So, without telling his platoon mates, he turned around and backtracked down the path to find his mask, which he was sure he had just dropped at some point along the way.  As he was walking along, he heard voices.  He ducked, and looking through the trees, he saw the other unit in the exercise.  Using some quick thinking, he jumped out of the bushes with his rifle pointed at the other soldiers, surprising them.  He had captured the entire unit!  He led them back to his commanding officer, and was quickly honored for his excellent work, and his immediate officer garnered praise for his fantastic strategy of leaving a man behind the unit to surprise them.  Dad never said a word, but I don't think he ever found his gas mask.

When the men in charge found out about Dad's typing skills, he immediately was reassigned to the typing pool, taking him out of any potential combat situation.  He watched many of his unit move out to duties oversees, many in Vietnam, while he typed letters, memos, and other military correspondence.

Dad also found himself driving VIPs all around the military base because he could drive a Jeep with a manual transmission, He served in the motor pool and was constantly on call for this type of duty.

The hardest thing he had to deal with was typing letters to the families of those soldiers who were killed in the line of duty.  Those are the types of things that broke his heart.  He quietly thanked God for the opportunity to serve in a way that didn't put his own life in danger, though he certainly would have if his circumstances had been any different.  He knew it was a great honor to serve his country, the United States of America.  And I'm really proud to know that he served.

Thank you to all who have served in our Armed Forces, protecting the freedoms that make America the greatest nation in the world.

Have a great day, everyone!

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