Well, this is a fine kerfuffle. I had already decided what and whom I would write about this week. I try to do that every week but occasionally I have to call or email and beg Ryan, our esteemed editor of all things printed, that I may be a day late with my wisdom for the week.
Fortunately, he has mercy for those of us that need extra time to make sure our prose are readable. This week I was going to write about how fast our puppy is learning his rightful place in the pecking order of the Worthy Clan. Then hell opened up with the events in the Middle East.
If I had pecked all the correct keys, you would know my opinion of those who harm children and innocent civilians. But since this is a family paper, it is just as well. They know all I do and probably more. I won’t bore you with that old news. I can tell you that I know what is going on in the minds of the young warriors who have chosen to make the military their method of paying back this country for the freedoms we all possess.
I know this because I was one of the young “Hot Shots” who was issued rounds of ammunition and whole blood to be carried with us into any situation that might occur. It was 1962 and Krushev was playing “Chicken,” with a young, untried president named John F. Kennedy. Some of you may remember those days when the term “Nuclear War” was something we worried about. Did you ever jump out of your seat and “take cover” under your desk when the teacher gave the word? It seemed so strange at the time.
In 1962 it didn’t seem any less dangerous. But you have to understand that live ammo was only supplied on the rifle range and whole blood was locked in a refrigerator at the end of the barracks. This particular night we were dressed in our full combat uniforms.
Truly that was the first time I ever got scared of anything that was happening in the outside world. As I looked around the barracks I noticed that even though it was after midnight the eyes of my mates were as wide as any I had ever seen. It was hot in North Carolina that day, but for some reason nobody was sweating. It was eerily quite.
All the guys that were married were there in the barracks with us. They lived off post where they could be with their families, but tonight they were with us. We were one family that night. The alert was called off a little after 11 the next day, but while it was on there was almost no noise. The next day we turned in all the ammo and blood and went about our duties as though nothing had happened. But it had.
We grew a little older that night. We understood that things wouldn’t be the same and they weren’t. Russia and Cuba had become the boogie man. We were ready to go. No one even considered leaving the barracks until they were all taken out of the barracks and over to the Air Force Base and loaded into ancient airplanes.
The NCOs (Non Commissioned Officer) were yelling at us as usual. The planes lifted off and we jumped on Sicily Drop zone. I guess the powers felt we should do something since we were primed for war. We were teens and a little older. Certainly nothing like this had ever happened to us. But we were ready, I think we all grew up a little that night.
I can assure you that the planes are different today, much larger and more powerful and capable of carrying twice as many troops and all their equipment. But the feeling these present day soldiers feel is exactly like we felt then. Nervous, yes, better trained, for sure, more capable and carrying much better equipment. Well I actually pity the enemy but the feelings, as sure as God made little green apples, are to be the same.
Although today they would never admit it. As you sleep tonight this scenario is being repeated. Our warriors are standing ready to do the dirty work of the politicians. You may never read about it anywhere but here, and I may be remiss of some of the finer parts of getting ready, but I assure you that this obscene bombing and terror will be dealt with and our troops are strong.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this column, I told you that I had something else planned and since I have a few lines left I would ask that you take a moment and tell me your first conscious thought or memory. Like a lot of writers, I too would like to know just that little part of your life. Just a word, or a place, or a name of one thing that you carry with you even today. No names unless you wish.
I ask you because I was going to tell you about the first conscious thing I can remember. Of course, I will probably embellish the heck out of mine, but all you have to do is remember.