So lets roll the clock back to the beginning. When I say this, I mean May 15th 1987. I was two months away from turning 18 and I thought I was the smartest bastard on the planet. The reality was that I was a loser. In a class of 25, I was either going to be the only failure or graduate 25th. I never imagined myself joining any military group . . . I didn't want to be like my dad.
But as graduation day creeped closer, I came to the realization that I was either going to be flipping burgers or some petty criminal, talking a lot of shit and quickly getting my ass kicked or arrested. So I drug my ass to Grand Junction, Colorado and walked into recruiting-ville.
Now my dad always said that it didn't matter to him if I joined the military, but if I did, all he asked was that I not join the Marines. He said being a bullet sponge was not the way to go. So where was the first place I looked at.
The Few, The Proud, The . . . What The Hell!
Man, when I walked into that office there were a couple of Marines who popped tall and I thought to myself. "So this is what happens after a lobotomy."
So I turned around and walked out.
I figured I could be all I could be in the Army.
"I can guarantee that you will become a Field Artillery Spotter with a specialty of Undetonated Ordnance Recovery," was what the recruiter said. I asked him what that meant and he replied with, "Well, You go out to where heavy artillery is going to be dropped and you give directions as to where to drop it. Then you pick up the shells that don't explode so that you don't get no civilians killed." I asked him why would I want to do so stupid as that and he said, "well, you get paid an extra $50 a month because it's hazardous duty . . . that's why I took the job."
So I decided to Aim High in the Air Force.
They were blunt. I didn't have a 4 year college degree so I wouldn't be flying planes.
And if I couldn't drop explosives on people from other countries, forget it.
So there I was, standing in front of the Navy Recruiters office, long haired with an attitude. For a moment I thought about the Coast Guard, but I wanted a job. So I opened the door and stepped in.
There was this Chief at one desk. feet kicked up with a big assed coffee cup in his hand. He didn't even look up at me. There was a First Class at another desk on the phone, laughing his ass off. Lastly there was this Second Class reading the newspaper. Hey, if this was the Navy, I could dig it.
But then the Chief got up and headed right for me. "Hello there! Are you looking to join?"
"I'm not sure." You see, he was damn near giddy and this threw me off guard.
"Well have a seat and lets talk."
You see, the reality of the fact was that this was Colorado, and backwoods Colorado at that, almost anyone who joined the military from the western slope joined either the Air Force or the Army. Most of these tobacco chewing crackers had never seen a body of water larger than Lake Mead. So they were willing to bend over backwards for me. My ASVAB Scores weren't bad, but not enough to get me into a job that would allow me to blow people up or cause some kind of damage (that was all I was thinking about back then).
In the end however, my punk ass thought it knew better. So instead of taking a guaranteed job specialty, I opted to join as a non-designated Seaman. What that meant was after Boot Camp, my ass was going to a ship and there I would paint a lot, mop a lot and end up flipping burgers. I was going to the Big E, otherwise known as the USS Enterprise, an aircraft carrier after Boot Camp and I was toast.
When I got home, my dad nearly kicked my ass. He yelled at me for like almost an hour. When he got through that, he started laughing his ass off. He started telling me all of the horror stories of the Navy he could. Suddenly I realized I had made a big mistake and was going to hate life for four years.
I was in the Delayed Entry Program because I wasn't quite 18 and was scheduled to leave for Boot Camp August 1ST 1987. I figured, I might as well party my ass off until then. So I got drunk a lot. Remember, in Colorado, 18 year olds could drink 3/2 beer and nobody ever carded at the Gas and Sip. I pissed away a lot of days, until suddenly it was the first. I flew out of Grand Junction early in the morning with two other guys who were also joining the Navy, no out of fear and apprehension, we became buddies. We landed in Denver and were told we would be leaving for San Diego at 6 am the next day. So us newfound buddies went and got drunk. Of course we were all 18 by this time and even though the age was now 21, Colorado grandfathered all of those who could drink before the law was passed. We really screwed up the hotel room the Navy had put us up in. And we weren't the only ones. It seemed like everyone in this place was headed for Boot Camp (which was exactly the fact). It was one huge drunken binge and nobody seemed to care. They knew where we were headed.
And let me tell you 5:30 A.M. came up awfully fast.
And so did our first lesson on how the military plans and executes certain things.
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