I joined the Army at the end of the Viet Nam war in 1974.
Was still in high school when I joined in January 1974, and entered service on July 5th, 1974.
Viet Nam had been part of the news ever since I started school back in 1962.
Growing up as a child, the war lived on the news each night. We sometimes forget that it wasn’t so long ago that MANY soldiers died daily. I can remember news footage of fighting and always, ALWAYS, images of casualties being hurriedly carried away for aid or for protection.
In late 1964 or early 1965, I remember playing toy soldiers out by the back fence. The neighbor’s flower bed ran along the same fence and she was out cleaning her garden. When she saw me playing with my plastic green and gray toys she said that her son was a soldier. As we talked she said that her son was also born in February. She promised tthat when he came home we would have a birthday party together.
At the time I was probably 8 or 9.
Her son never came home. There was no party.
When I joined the Army I always kept him in my thoughts — even though I had never met him. Soldiers and airmen and sailors are us — our children will one day be them.
When Big & Rich came out with their 8th of November (1965) video it brought back many memories of childhood and watching the evening news as I grew up with more than 52,000 dead soldiers passing through my TV screen and into the tears of their families. Sometimes a few. Sometimes many.
Finally the time neared when I could make my own decision. Would I become a soldier, or Marine, or would I not.
I joined the Army National Guard in January 1974 and loved it so much (on most days) that I switched to the Army in October 1975 and retired from the Army in April 1996.
I would do it all again.
Postscript: I retired from the Army in 1996 while stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Since then I have gone on to start my own company — IntelligenceCareers.com — and have raised my family in Prince William County, Virginia. Life has been good. Life is good because of those willing to embrace “This we’ll defend”.