Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Career Path, Continued

Alright, so when we got back to the states, it was around Christmas time. When Christmas vacation was over I would be going to the same high school that my Aunt and Uncle went to. This was going to be an exciting thing for me, they weren't in high school any more. But I had started school at their elementary school when they were still going there. But it didn't quit happen that way. We ended up at some god forsaken abandoned Air Force Base in Burns Flat, Oklahoma, “Clinton AFB”. They were sending military families that had husbands going to Vietnam to live there while they were gone. No one had asked me anything about going there. I didn't want to go, and I knew if I asked to stay with a relative would have been out of the question. By the time we got settled in, school had already started. I need to tell you I was not very good at school, if there had been classes for slow people back then I would have been in them. I struggled all through school, with not much help from my parents, my mom dropped out of the sixth grade. My dad graduated from high school, but he wasn't around much and when he was, he wasn't. He would hit the bottle as soon as he got home from work. So catching up with the other guys wasn't going to happen, I think I knew it when they first suggested it in Germany. I tried for a few weeks but just couldn't hack it, so I dropped out of the tenth grade.

There wasn't much to do in Burns Flat, it was just a little ole' town, with a gas station on both sides of town. I guess it shriveled up when the Air Force moved out. So looking for a job was pointless especially at sixteen and a half. March came in like a lion and took me with it. I gave my mom an ultimatum, sign me into the Navy or watch me run away. We had a fight the night before, one of many, because she didn't like me going out every night and she needed me to take care of the kids, yada, yada, yada. Well, I was tired of being father, I was tired of taking care of everyone else. I had wanted to go into the Navy ever since I saw my uncles in uniform. So on March 11th we drove to Clinton, OK. In the basement of the courthouse is where the recruiters offices were. So I went straight away to the Navy office, which was across the hall from the Marines. The recruiter basically told me to go back to school and come back and see him when I graduated. Well, I knew that wasn't an option. Everything I had ever read told me that I did not want to be a Marine. You have to remember I had very low self-esteem at this point of my life. So down the hall I went, the Air Force guy told me the same thing. By this time my mom is grinning from ear to ear, she thinks she's getting her way. I was desperate, so I sat down with the Army Sargent. He told me that since I was volunteering for the draft I would only have to serve two years active duty instead of three and he could guarantee an AIT school (Advanced Individual Training) for me. Which means I wouldn't be a grunt, (infantry) , not that there is anything wrong with being shot at, “I'm just saying.” But they would talk to me about that after the testing in Oklahoma City. When we left there I had Trailways bus tickets in hand for the next day going to O KC.

Tomorrow I'll talk about my time in O KC, and my start in the US Army

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