Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July everyone! As Americans everywhere celebrate the nations independence with hotdogs, hamburgers, boating, swimming and firewroks I thought I would take this oppurtunity to reflect on some of my time in the Army. I joined the Army in 1994 on a whim. I was out of high school working at the local grocery store. I didn't think there was much of a future there but I really wasn't sure how to go aboout changing it. Then an awkward, dorky Army recruiter came through the line and my bagger made a joke that I wanted to join the Army and there the conversation began. I left for basic training a month later. It was my first airplane ride ever, my ears were going crazy and I couldn't hear a thing. I finally made it to Alabama where I meet up with a couple other people headed to FT McCellan. We load a bus for an hour bus ride and get on base about midnight. We go through in-processing and finally get to go to the barracks about 1:30 am. A girl shows us our bunks and it reminds me of a girls home, I am scared and just want to go home. Instead I hang in there finish in-processing by getting tons of shots, uniforms and equipment. A couple of days later it is time to go to our companies and offically begin basic training. They call the intial meeting of your drill sergeants, shark attack. It is like you see in the movies only worse. They come on the bus welcome you to the company and then the yelling begins. You have to scramble to get you and all your bags off the bus, you have a ruck sack on your back, a duffle bag on your front and any civilan bags in your arms. You go through the drill sergeants telling you to pick them up, put them down, get over here go back over there, do push-ups, get up, get down, tell them your name, do flutter kicks, get back up, get back down, pick up the bags. It went on for a long time, I was tired. There were people quitting and crying. I instantly recognized the fact that their life got worse as they admitted to wanting to quit so the smart girl I was I kept my mouth shut and tried to blend in with the other miserable people as to not draw attention to my self. That only lasted so long because of course I would make the dreadful mistake of saying I belonged to platoon number 3 instead of third platoon. I still really don't know the difference but that one small statement made the drill sergeants angry enough to kick me out of the platoon and make me march back to the barracks by myself. I made it through that night and went on to gradute 16 weeks later as a military police. My first duty station was Japan, I spent 2 years there as a garrison MP working law enforcement. I have so many funny stories from there like the first time I went to pull someone over by myself and they wouldn't pull over. I was right on their tail getting ready to call in the high speed chase that was about to ensue when I realized I never turned on my lights. Yeah I was that private, full of entertainment for the outside world. After spending two years there I realized I kind of liked this Army thing and started competeing in soldier of the month and quater boards. I was good at them and won a lot of them. My picture was up at the PX for a whole quater because I won soldier of the quater for the whole post. My reward was the honor of carrying the post colors on a run hmmmm I would of settled for a day off! I spent my first holidays away from home by myself in Japan. It was sad and lonely, you hang out with friends but it is not the all. I did win the barracks door decorating contest at Christmas time. I made a christmas tree out of garland and decorated it with real lights and real balls and presents. My next duty station was FT Bragg North Carolina, completely different than Japan. FT Bragg is home to some of the toughest, hard core soldiers in the Army. It is a totally different world where you spend time preparing for deployments and training in the field. My time there was the toughest physically. There were pt smoke sessions, ruck marches and long runs. Field exercises were long, extremely hot or extremely cold. I learned so much in such a short period. My company deployed to Bosnia for 9 months. We came back and that is when I was promoted to Sergeant and decided to re-enlist for Hawaii. Living in Hawaii was great, it was as beautiful as you can imagine. I met my husband there, I had my first son there. I left the Army there. I chose to dedicate my time to my sweet baby boy. We moved back to North Carolina and I missed the Army. I got called back to active duty for a training batallion when my son was about a year old. I was then a trainer for reserve units deploying to Iraq and Afganistan. The hardest class I ever gave was to my dear husband's company who was getting ready to leave. The hardest thing I ever did was tell my husband bye as he was heading off to war. My son missed his dad and I missed my best friend. He was gone for a year. About 2 months after he got back we found out I was pregnant again. As a family we decided to get out, it was hard enough with one child but we couldn't do it with two children so we both got out of the Army. I respect those families continuing to make the sacrifices for our country and I think you for your service and dedication. Happy Birthday America!

The only picture I have on the computer of my Army days is one a friend posted on my myspace comments and I wanted to share it here. This is when we first got to Bosnia and a company of about 180 people was staying in a hanger while they figured out what missions we would have.

No comments: