Joining the Air Force – Part 2 ( MEPS, the night before)

continued from last post…

Now I would love to say that my final night as a free youth of America was spent in languid, steamy, sexual bliss with some nubile young Officer-to-be, but such was not the case. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I went downstairs to the “bar” of the hotel and cased the place out, but it was apparent that either all the ladies already had other plans, or I was just too early. Having grown up in a part of Alabama where everything shut down after 8 p.m., I didn’t yet know that the REAL fun doesn’t start till after 11p.m. Heck, by then I was sawing some logs up in my room and the last thing on my mind was a booty call.

The next morning, we all piled downstairs for a greasy meal and then it was onto the bus (again) to take us over to Maxwell Air Force base for our in-processing. That whole day was a big blur, but I will give you some highlights that stick in my mind:

  • Paperwork. LOTS of paperwork.
  • Standing in a large room—in my underwear—with a bunch of other guys, while some middle-aged, potbellied supposed doctor walked around issuing orders like, “Raise your arms;” “Touch your toes,” and “Stand on the balls of your feet.” I remember thinking, in addition to, “Hey, I’m not the only person here wearing white underwear,” also that, this was the worst physical I’d ever seen. Now granted, I’d never had a real physical in my life, but I’d seen them on TV and being a relatively intelligent person, I knew that you couldn’t tell if a person had a hernia, say, by  having them bend over necessarily.
  • Standing in a lot of lines and not talking to anyone.
  • Finally passing everything and giving my oath of service. It was a terribly anti-climactic ending to an uneventful day. We all stood in a room arm-length apart. Some officer from the base we were on strolled in like he was the hottest crap since Rocky Balboa; he swaggered around and gave us some “this is your duty” speech that involved lots of words like “honor” and “upholding” and then he finally got down to it and swore us in.

Let me take a brief diversion here and explain something about myself. I’ve previously mentioned that I’m broken on the inside—that I don’t feel things that I believe others feel. Well, the same goes for my sense of patriotism. In fact, I generally rankle inside when someone tries to prey on another person’s sense of pride in their country and it burns me to no end to see car dealers waving this big American flag on television thinking that those of us who have served can be so easily swayed. Don’t get me wrong—I lOVE THIS COUNTRY. It just so happens that it annoys the ever-loving crap outta me when someone assumes it’s a hot button of mine they can push in order to get me to do something. I mean come on! We’re smarter than that. Aren’t we?

Anyway, I wasn’t impressed. Some of the other recruits’ parents actually came and took pictures of the oath, but not mine (thankfully). After that, it was more standing around and waiting until it was time to head to the airport to catch our plane to boot camp at Lackland Air Force base, just outside of San Antonio, Texas.

In the middle of summer.

The group of us heading to Lackland was a diverse bunch, and relatively subdued. I think it had finally hit us all what we had just done and we were each contemplating the hell that we knew was going to be the next six weeks of our lives. Most of us were young, under 25, so we had active imaginations.

How wrong we all were. It was worse. Much worse.

Continue on to Part III…

Joining the Air Force (Part 1)

As a rule, I don’t think people give a rat’s butt what my kids did today, or even what I did today for that matter. So, I generally try and refrain from blogging my day-to-day. But, I have had a few interesting times in my life. I’ve done some things most people (relatively speaking) have not, and if nothing else, I think that long after I’m gone, all these things we’ve put on the net, will still be out there and maybe my kids will read it and think, “Hey, my dad was pretty cool after all.”

So I thought I’d do something a bit different for a while. I’m going to blog about my life. A sort of poor-man’s memoirs, if you will. Sorry, old girlfriends are off limits (though that WOULD be some good reading); but most everything else is blog-fodder. And to kick it off, I thought I’d blog about “Boot Camp.” It’s fun, a bit raunchy, and it’s really where my life began so it’s a great way to start.

Air Force Boot Camp Part I

image My dad was in the Air Force for nearly nine years before he got a hardship release so he could  take care of his aging family and their farm in North Carolina.  My dad believed that a military tour of duty was what every young boy needed to make him a man. Growing up, it was silently implied that both my brother and I would go the military route and then IF we decided to go to college, then our Uncle Sam would take care of it. I guess once I turned 18 I had a choice, but after living for so many years with no plans other than joining the military, it didn’t feel then, that had any other choice. Certainly, my dad never pressured me in that direction, but he never had a, “Are you sure?” talk with me either.

When I was 17, I enrolled in “Early Enlistment.” It’s kind of like a Letter of Intent. It’s not binding legally, but it’s the military’s way of getting its claws into you before some university does. And let’s be honest, most kids going straight into the military aren’t Rhodes Scholars anyway, so it’s a gamble that paid off more often than not. But, for enrolling early, I was able to lock in my preference of career fields. I locked in “Electronics,” since I figured that was a career field with growth opportunities. It was one of the few good career moves I’ve made in my life.

Soon enough, in the early summer of 1991, I graduated from Mary G. Montgomery High School in Semmes, AL. I notified my recruiter that I was officially out of school and I quickly received my “shipping out” orders. I had approximately one month after graduating before I was out of the house and into the world. I spent it as you might imagine an 18 year old boy might, all stories for other posts.

The day I left was a typically hot July day in Alabama. My mom gave me a quick, though warm goodbye and quietly went in the house while my dad and I packed my few meager belongings into his truck. I was to learn later that my mom had never wanted me join, but she never said a word and I didn’t learn until later how much my leaving would affect the family.

Every enlisted person’s first stop before Boot Camp is a central processing facility called MEPS. MEPS stands for “Military Entrance Processing Station.” At the MEPS, they give you a fairly basic physical, you fill out some paperwork and you “officially” swear in. Nothing is for sure until that final swearing in. Our central station was a place in Montgomery, AL., so I had to catch the Greyhound bus there from Mobile. Dad and I arrived with time aplenty and as we sat waiting on the bus, we engaged in that same small talk that we’d been doing for ten years. He gave me some last-minute advice about just keeping my head down and plodding through it, and I nodded obediently and promised I’d write.

Soon enough the bus came and I stowed my luggage away and climbed aboard. I remember looking back at my dad and thinking how small he looked through the bus window. All my life I’d lived with him and though he’s not a tall man, he has a quiet, solid presence that makes up for his short stature. But, looking at him at that moment, emerging from beneath his shadow into adulthood, I saw—perhaps for the first time—that he was just a man. He had a strained smile on his face, and for just a moment, I felt a fondness for him that had been missing for some time. My dad was never much of a hugger growing up. He didn’t casually say, “I love you,” or outwardly express his emotions. But every now and then, you could see it in a gesture—or a smile.

It was a good “last thing to see” as the bus pulled away.

Now, though Montgomery is only about three hours from Mobile by car, by Greyhound, it takes about six hours thanks to the roundabout way the bus goes to a dozen or more small towns between the two cities. We didn’t arrive in Montgomery until late in the evening. Once there, myself and a few others from other cities around hopped into the van-taxi that was to take us to our hotel for the evening before processing in the morning. The hotel  the U.S. Government put us in (The Capitol Inn Hotel) might best be described as an old hotel that had been moderately kept up, and which catered entirely to those whose bills were paid. Meaning, it no longer catered to people it needed to impress. No, it was strictly utilitarian, completely lacking in personality. Exactly what you’d expect to find in any government-funded facility funded by the slow, bureaucratic wheels of a non-specific behemoth budget cycle.

It wasn’t great, but I was only 18 and didn’t know much about these sorts of things. All I cared about was that the rooms were clean, if sparse. The food was really just not good; but, in its defense, it at least had an after hours bar down some stairs and around the back where the lights were dim, the pinball machines were aplenty, and the music was loud.

And this is where most of us flocked to spend our last night as free men and women.

Continue on to Part II…

Remember, the Meme you save, may be your own!

caution signB ikini over at Pantsfreesia (also a lady whom I work with in a remote kinda way) tagged me for a meme, I suspect largely because I’ve been a bit of a bummer lately and the goings on at work didn’t help and I figure she knows I needed a diversion.

Now, I’ve never “memed” in my life–that I know of–and though I had an idea what a meme was, I had to look it up. It seems there are rules to this memeing and so I’m going to give it my best shot and see what happens.

This particular Meme originated from Mommy Needs Therapy and has made its way down to my proverbial neck of the Internet. The idea is to write a six-word memoir of your life.

Egad! Six words? Folks, I’ve never summed anything up in my life in less than 20 words (er…except maybe that time when my motorcycle went skidding out of control on some pinestraw and I could see a big tree coming up quickly on my left side and I couldn’t do anything about it. I think I uttered two very succinct words then, “Oh” and “SHI*!”)

In addition to the six-word memoir, here are the other rules:

  • Write your own six word memoir.
  • Post it to your blog including a visual illustration if you would like.
  • Link to the person who tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogsphere
  • Tag 5 more blogs with links
  • Don’t forget to leave a comment in the tagged blogs with an invitation to play


So, without further ado, here’s my memoir:

…*sigh*…this is difficult….”Satisfactory goals, unsatisfactorily met, looking forward”

I realize this sounds horribly egocentric, but after all, it’s my memoir, not my eulogy. I hope my eulogy is significantly more upbeat, being delivered by my uber-successful children and a wife who didn’t spend her best years helping me get up out of my chair because I over-extended myself.

Duty done, now I’m passing this along.

TAG! The following people are IT:

– Trisha over at TrishaTruly
– Leighton over at My Best Investments
Father of Five (cuz dude, with that many kids, I KNOW you’ve got a memoir waiting in the wings!)
– Allison at That’s What She Blogged

There now…all done!

Oh, and don’t forget that there’s a Woot!-off going on today! Tags: ,,,