FTP: Veterans, signing on the dotted line

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
Gary Karschner is the pastor at Miles First United Methodist Church

This Thursday is Veteran’s Day. Years before I became a veteran, this day did not mean much to me. Because my dad had been a career Air Force man I had more than casual understanding of the event. After serving my four years in the Air Force, I now take great pride in my service and being a veteran. The time I entered the service was not a good period in America’s history. The Vietnam war was raging and dissent was dividing our nation. I had just proven I was not a good student in college, but I was smart enough to know the A1 birds were circling over me, and I was a prime target for the draft, so I enlisted in the Air Force.

When I was doing my battery of testing in Atlanta, Georgia I witnessed an event that made me expedite my enlistment process. A group of army draftees were lined up preparing to board a brown military bus. A loud shout broke the tension and a giant Marine Sergeant, complete with shiney brass and bright shoes, approached the scared enlistees and said, ‘Hold it right there’, and proceeded to point to certain individuals in the line and said, ‘Come with me, you gentlemen are now Marines’”.

All the air in the building was sucked up. There were expletives and words like, "but I signed up for the Army, not the Marines”, were offered and those words fell on deaf ears.

The Sergeant gathered his new recruits and marched them to a Marine bus, and just that quickly, a career decision was made. It was about this time I asked my recruiter if they could do that, and he said ‘not to Air Force recruits’.

At that moment I double-checked to be sure I had signed on the correct dotted line to get into the Air Force. I served my time and can now tell you being a veteran is something I am very proud of.

On Veteran’s Day please remember those who served, and thank those who are serving now for their service to our country.  I have spoken to several Marines through the years and all of them say they would not take a million dollars for the experience of basic training, but would not do it again for any amount of money. I personally think all men and women should serve a mandatory three year period in the military. That makes that Marine Sergeant seem more realistic now.