Friday, 1 September 2006

The Fateful Promise

I guess a little background might be helpful....

As most of you know, I was in the active duty Army from 1981 until 1993.... that fateful event on Ft Irwin of doing what I was asked turned me from a career soldier loving the Army to someone that couldn't wait to get out just that quick. I won't go back that far in my military career, but understand, when the Army did what they did, I lost a part of me that will never return and I still can't believe that I ever came back in the US military.

So then, why did I and how did I end up on a battle roster heading to the sandbox? It was a fateful promise, serious! Ever since Lisa and I have been a couple, she has inquired as to why never retired from the military or why I didn't go reserve or NG. I have tried most my life (after 1993) to try to forget what the Army did, very negative feelings. A couple years after we were married, sometime in late 2003, she asked why I wouldn't go into the reserve to finish my retirement... trying to figure a way out of this, I promised her I would join the reserve when 1) they would let me join the Air Force Reserve & 2) they would let the reserve members into the PX & commissary unrestricted. Since I KNEW the AF didn't like prior service Army folks, and they are never hurting for recruits I felt fairly secure that this would never happen. Also, since the active duty folks seemed hell bent on not allowing the "weekend warriors" into there private shopping arena's unless they were on official orders, and it had been this way for more years than I have been alive I felt pretty secure that my two part promise would never happen. Well, in 2003 the active duty allowed the reserve unrestricted access to there shopping malls... ouch, they almost had me. My wife called the AF Reserve recruiter who assured her that it was certainly accepting former Army guys: TRAPPED! My wife had me, now I had to return to serving, but at least it was NOT in the Army. Well, I joined the AFR in Apr 2004, assigned to the 512th Airlift Wing (Dover AFB, De) as a public affairs specialist (GREAT job!!). I enjoyed my time with the 512th, but Lisa got a posting to Key West, Fl, in 2005, so we moved. I went to the closest AFR unit, Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB), where they had a PA shop, but no slots. I did a couple "visiting drills" with them and the PAO really seemed to like me (an old Army officer, we got along well). The 512th rightfully said that I needed to find a unit to transfer to or go IRR (since my "visiting drills" come from there money). Well, I only have just under 7 years left until I'll have 20... going IRR (inactive reserve) means that I would stop accumulating points towards retirement... so that wasn't an option.

Here is where the Army comes in: Lisa works for the Gov't and there can be a lot of travel opportunities that we hope to take advantage of.. If I stay AFR, the problem of transferring will always be a reoccurring issue; if I go Army Reserve, it shouldn't be a problem, the Army is everywhere. So, I went to see the dreaded Army recruiter to ask to transfer... when he tried to tell me public affairs was the same as civil affairs I should have ran, but I didn't, instead I just excused their lack of knowledge for just "being Army." Well, they promised me the world (I have scores above the 3rd grade level), and so far have delivered on nothing... THOUGH, I do admit it is what I expected. I learned in 1993 not to trust the Army, so I really haven't been let down, just shown that things really aren't much different. Let me clarify something here... (on a serious note) most of my Army career I was fortunate to be led, and mentored, by some OUTSTANDING officers, NCOs, and friends... when the drawdown (1990-95) got pretty intense, at least at Ft Irwin, it became pretty back stabbing, dog-eat-dog... and I was a dog that was eaten up and spit out like the trusting person I was... anyhow (seriousness turned off, sarcasim on)... I am now in the Army Reserve, I was assigned to the 478th Civil Affairs Bn (I say was, because I have been transferred to the unit that I am going to deploy with, until I get back, then I go back to the 478th).

Well, that is how I made a promise that seems to have come back to bite me, sort of... in 6 years and some odd months, I will be able to retire, at age 60, I will have a government check for the rest of my life... so I guess it is worth it.

I learned from experience in 1993 not to trust, but to CYA in all that I do. With that in mind, I hope to be successful in the reserve and be like those officers, NCOs and friends that made such a dramatic impression on me when I was young. I hope when I retire, that at least one soldier will always remember me for who I was, an outstanding soldier, a mentor, a leader, someone who cared enough to make a difference.

For now though, I prepare for my mobilization and my travels.........
'nuff for now~ L8R, Dave

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