On the eve of Veterans Day 2015 I came upon this old photo of my Military Police School training platoon (11th Battalion, Delta Company 1st Platoon) at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, 1979. (That’s my goofy face, next to the last row, third from the left.)
My best friend Mike Lowe and I enlisted on the buddy plan when skipping classes at DBCC got old. . .
I want to begin by saying that my time pales in comparison with others – in fact, it doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same company with those of you who served in combat, deployed or actually sacrificed during peacetime. I never did, and you have my utmost thanks and respect this Veterans Day, and everyday.
To say that we had more fun than any Army Privates before or since is an understatement. Today, when someone asks me what I did in the Army I say, “I can’t tell you.” And they ask, “Classified?”, and I say, “No. Statute of Limitations. . .”
While Mike was promoted to Spec 4, I was actually reduced in rank due to company-level discipline three times – I spent A LOT of time on KP and extra-duty – and I deserved every miserable minute of it. (In fact, I think I’ve personally cleaned out every grease trap in every mess hall from here to West Point. . .)
While I’m not real proud of my personal contribution – I am extremely proud of what the Army contributed to my life:
They took an irresponsible, stupid little boy and made me become a man in a short period of time. (Thank you Sr. Drill Sergeant Ainsworth.)
They taught me valuable skills that formed the foundation for my law enforcement career – in fact, Military Police School was the finest police training I ever experienced – and that includes the FBI National Academy.
They taught me to respect tradition – and the importance of committing yourself to something larger than your own self-interest.
They taught me how to put ego aside and work cooperatively with a group of diverse people to achieve a common goal.
They taught me to never quit – and that you can always put one foot in front of the other – despite how tired, sick and beat-
down you may think you are.
They gave me a sense of pride and patriotism that only someone who has endured basic recruit training in the armed forces can appreciate.
And best of all, the experience allowed me the opportunity to meet and serve with some of the finest men and women I have ever known – some of whom went on to serve with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan – all of whom remain life-long friends.
To the NCO’s and Officers I put through the mill – I apologize. You deserved better (except you, Lt. “Motorola” – you’re still an asshole in my book – but thank you for your service.)
After six years – by the grace of God – I received an Honorable Discharge (Pvt. E-1) from the 345th MP Company (EG) U.S. Army Reserve. And while the Army may not be proud of me – I am extremely proud to have played a very, very small part in it, and I always will be.