Missing the Military

This is a discussion on Missing the Military within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Got this from a buddy of mine today. Many of you will know and relate, line-by-line, what this Senior Chief is saying. ========= YOU CAN ...

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    Missing the Military

    Got this from a buddy of mine today. Many of you will know and relate, line-by-line, what this Senior Chief is saying.

    ========= YOU CAN LEAVE THE MILITARY -- BUT IT NEVER REALLY LEAVES YOU! This article sums it up quite well. By Ken Burger, the Charleston Post and Courier: Thurs, March 4, 2010

    Occasionally, I venture back to NAS, Meridian where I'm greeted by an imposing security guard who looks carefully at my identification card, hands it back and says, "Have a good day, Sr. Chief."
    Every time I go back to any Navy Base it feels good to be called by my previous rank, but odd to be in civilian clothes, walking among the servicemen and servicewomen going about their duties as I once did, many years ago. The military is a comfort zone for anyone who has ever worn the uniform. It's a place where you know the rules and know they are enforced -- a place where everybody is busy, but not too busy to take care of business. Because there exists behind the gates of every military facility an institutional understanding of respect, order, uniformity, accountability and dedication that becomes part of your marrow and never, ever leaves you.
    Personally, I miss the fact that you always knew where you stood in the military, and who you were dealing with. That's because you could read somebody's uniform from 20 feet away and know the score. Service personnel wear their careers on their sleeves, so to speak. When you approach each other, you can read their name tag, examine their rank and, if they are in dress uniform, read their ribbons and know where they've served.
    I miss all those little things you take for granted when you're in the ranks, like breaking starch on a set of fatigues fresh from the laundry and standing in a perfectly straight line military formation that looks like a mirror as it stretches to the endless horizon. I miss the sight of troops marching in the early morning mist, the sound of boot heels thumping in unison on the tarmac, the bark of drill instructors and the sing-song answers from the squads as they pass by in review.
    To romanticize military service is to be far removed from its reality, because it's very serious business -- especially in times of war.
    But I miss the salutes I'd throw at officers and the crisp returns as we criss-crossed with a "by your leave sir".
    I miss the smell of jet fuel hanging heavily on the night air and the sound of engines roaring down runways and disappearing into the clouds. The same goes for carrier duty.
    I even miss the hurry-up-and-wait mentality that enlisted men gripe about constantly, a masterful invention that bonded people more than they'll ever know or admit.
    I miss people taking off their hats when they enter a building, speaking directly and clearly to others and never showing disrespect for rank, race, religion or gender.
    Mostly, I miss being a small cog in a machine so complex it constantly circumnavigates the Earth and so simple it feeds everyone on time, three times a day, on the ground, in the air or at sea.
    Mostly, I don't know anyone who has served who regrets it, and doesn't feel a sense of pride when they pass through those gates and re-enter the world they left behind with their youth.
    I wish I could express my thoughts as well about something I loved -- and hated sometimes. Face it - we all miss it............Whether you had one tour or a career, it shaped your life. "A veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America "
    "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." Eccl. 10:2

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    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    Just call me strange but I don't miss any of that stuff. Maybe being MI/aviation for 7 years and overseas for 5 years of that then SOCOM my last 15 years I had a different experience. The time and effort doing uniforms an shining boots IMO could be better spent on other activities.The formalities of saluting and other courtesies just was not to my taste. I found a military where that was not heeded as much was preferrable. Rank was not as important as experience. It was not uncommon for someone junior to be in charge if they had more experience for that [articular mission. Thus allowing everyone to use thier abilities the best without undo burden. Granted, the lowest ranking person we had was a E6. I did not care for someone to say t me 'morning Sergeant Major' . He is respecting the rank. Which is great. But I guess it wasn't an important part of my life. Bob, Jason, Steph were the greetings we used. The respect came from knowing the person. Funny thing is sometime we forgot what someones rank was. The position was important.The only time my son saw me in uniform was when he was 12 at my retirement ceremony. And even then I did not wear a dress uniform. I wore my ACU's because that is what the regular soldier was wearing in Iraq and Afghanistan. I honestly did not know of some awards I had until I saw my DD214 (nothing major, been there type of awards). I never got the concept by looking at ones uniform you can judge what that person has done or how capable they are unless they have something noteworthy. Awards are a dime a dozen. But that is the military most love and I can understand that. My nephew is in the army and LOVES it in the 101st. The Hail and Farewells, unit PT, formal functions where you get all pretty in your uniform. I obviously respect all that loved that military.

    What I do miss: airborne ops. Jumping with 6 to 10 folks, not 100's. Doing 1-3 jumps a day on jump day. Getting a few guys together and go to the range and perform real drills. Carrying lock and loaded. Not worrying about an RSO jumping your butt like on a regular firing range in the army (we were safe so don't think we discounted that!)Packing your own chute. Kicking back in my office, putting on the TV and cleaning one of my weapons. Doing PT on my own or getting with a group of guys together in the morning for a long run or bike ride. The camaraderie of working with the same folks for many years (small community, always saw and worked with each other). Not having to go to sick call to get a doctor's permission to stay home because I was sick(just called the team leader and it was big boy rules, your word was good enough). Walking to the medics and not waiting in line because I needed motrin. Just walked in and helped yourself (again, big boy rules). Not having to stay at the office waiting for last formation even though there was nothing to do (of course the canned answer is you can never train too much) left when the work was done. Whether that be at noon or 7 days in a row working 24 hours a day.


    But the military works well overall with the description in the post. It has worked well for 200 years. There is a need for the formations, the strict adherence to protocol. The discipline needed so a unit functions with folks from different backgrounds and abilities.

    Not that one is better than the other or one is more necessary than the other. Just some like it one way and others like the other way. But which ever life folks had in the military they deserve the utmost respect from a grateful nation.

    Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
    Isaiah 6:8
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    "With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." Ps. 18:29
    "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." Eccl. 10:2

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    I miss M2 .50 gunnery, TOW gunner, calling for fire w/ our Howitzer battery. I do not miss deployments away from family. I do not miss being in the field for no reason (when doing stuff...was a blast...sitting around in Ft. Polk, LA woods...not so much). Most importantly....I miss my Troop comrades. Thanks to Facebook...I'm in contact with 90% of the Troop I was with for my entire enlistment @ Ft. Puke.

    I've only gone back once....and that was w/in a cpl weeks of going on terminal leave and only to show off my brand new (at the time) Mustang and freshly grown goatee :D
    "Sir, could you please not bleed so much? I have to clean the store after they haul you off and I'd like the rest of my shift, to be, like, you know, better."

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    Senior Member Array Zsnake's Avatar
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    AZNAV.....Someone told me once that if you missed the Navy you should rent a "Pod", paint it gray inside and out and live in it for a week.

    I believe that would cure ya. :-)

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    Distinguished Member Array tiwee's Avatar
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    I miss the people, the exotic locations, the adventure, the excitement, and the novelty. I was fortunate to be single, be given opportunity for the unusual, and to have had no tragedy. I know for many it was different. This past year I visited with two shipmates from the days. In each case, (the wives present, the time since, whatever) we spoke little of the past. I thought it would be different. But I was glad to see them both.

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    I hated it at the time.

    I was just too young and dumb to realize that I was getting a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I'd always look back on in wonderment.

    Yeah, I miss it. I don't regret getting out after 5 years, I just wish I would have appreciated it more.

    Yooperdug (fellow DC member) and I figured out that we were in the same bootcamp company, and it's been fun catching up.
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    My last eighteen years were more fun than a person should be allowed, where else could a KY farm boy get a $100,000,000 airplane and three or more officers to go from one exotic location to another? Sure there were the o’dark thirty wake ups for the midnight takeoffs but after all I was in MAC (Midnight Air Command). The best trips were the humanitarian missions like the typhoon Pamela relief where you really seen the good you did.
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    I loved every minute of my career, and I know the truth behind the saying, "when it's time to quit, you know it."

    You really do; when it's time to move on you know it. I do miss a lot of things about the military, but I don't miss doing that for a living.
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    Senior Member Array Zsnake's Avatar
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    I put in four years (Well, actually three years, seven months, fourteen days, seven hours, and forty-three minutes) in the Army. Had a GREAT time, grew up (some) and learned a LOT. After getting back in Civilian mode for a year I missed it so much I entered the Guard/Reserve components. I spent another 18 years there. (Whoever said you only had to "do" one weekend a month and two weeks in summer camp LIED)

    I retired a MSGT .... only because I could not meet the height/weight profile anymore.

    I miss it to this day, but the monthly check they send me helps me in my grief.

    Thank GOD for our men and women in the Military...
    and thank all of you for your contributions to my retirement.

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    VIP Member Array goldshellback's Avatar
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    I actually fall in right between suntzu and aznav's post. Being a retired submariner, we didn't 'play' most of the 'spit-shine, marching-in-formation' stuff.... but we wern't completly 'left to our own 'big-boy' trustworthy-ness' either. We had our 'liberties' with many rules that rubbed the 'fleet-guys' the wrong way, but uniforms, salutes, etc...... to the letter.

    I will NEVER miss the hurry-up-and-wait! When the work was done and nothing left on the day's 'hunny-do' list from the Chief...... "Liberity for the Brave"! The timid didn't cut it on the 'boats'...... BUT, when a 'hot-Ticket' item needed doing.......lets get it done. Having to wait to finish a job because of this or that....... No, will never miss, nor admit, to missing it.

    It was a comfort zone and the Senior Chief writting it is spot-on with most of it though. It was the people, my shipmates on the long deployments, my brothers-in-arms on the even longer mid-watches in someplace where there were more 'un'-friendlies than friendlies around. The not-so-quiet rivalries between members of of the other services....... until a non-military someone wanted to show their stupidity....... We know how to come together as well as we know how to push each others buttons.

    Not too long ago it hit me as I was outside taking care of some yard work one evening........a faint whisper riding the cool evening breeze...... TAPS. I wasn't on base (I live only a short distance away) nor in uniform (which I knew I'd never wear again)....... but still every cell of my being screamed at me to face the colors, come to attention, and salute!

    As a civilian on base I'd certinally stand tall, remove my hat, and render the 'required' respects, but never again would I render honors in uniform again. It was a sad couple of seconds for me.......but I giggled after 'carry-on' was sounded...... because I stood relieved..... I had turned over my watch....my shipmates, many I had trained personally, now have it. We're in good hands while they have the duty.

    No regrets on the path I choose, and none in leaving. I'm on a 'new' adventure............
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    I finished out my 20 years and retired from the Navy in '08. If I could do it over again I would have been in infantry in the Army or Marines. As a kid I was always in the woods and loved adrenaline and shooting. I let my dad talk me out of infantry and into the Navy.

    I was fortunate to travel to many exotic locations. My first deployment was six months in Bermuda, 1989. Besides the sandpits of the world I also spent a lot of time in Italy, Spain, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    What I learned along the way has molded who I am and has made me a better person.

    I'm getting ready to take my first cruise on something other than haze gray since I retired in '08.
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    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    The best thing about the military are the stories. And they are so true and outrageous they need no exaggeration. I don't even bother telling folks that never served any stories because they look at me like "you got to be making that up!" I started a thread a while ago about airborne stories. We might need on just for military tales.
    goldshellback, aznav and mano3 like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by suntzu View Post
    The best thing about the military are the stories. And they are so true and outrageous they need no exaggeration. I don't even bother telling folks that never served any stories because they look at me like "you got to be making that up!" I started a thread a while ago about airborne stories. We might need on just for military tales.
    So true. Although I don't ever tell my stories anymore, simply because I'm tired of getting BS called on them. They're part of my memories, and that's good enough for me.
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    Semper Fi!

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