Allegiance sworn is only important if you intend to keep the oath. When I joined the military I took such an oath. It required me to swear allegiance to the United States, defend against all enemies, follow lawful orders and several other important things as well. The exact content of the oath is public record and I do not feel it necessary to quote it here. It is significant in what it says, but even more so in what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t tell you how to be a responsible soldier, or how much mental exertion it might require of you. It doesn’t require happiness in your daily work or allow for eight hours of restful sleep. What it does is simple. It turns youth into adult. Boys become men and girls become women. Followers become leaders. Youth, barely able to function on their own, become responsible adults capable of following lawful orders without question, respecting authority, and showing merciful compassion.
Uncle Sam Says…
The military did a lot for me. It gave my life order and discipline at a time when I seriously needed both. I joined up the first time when the war in Vietnam was raging. In those days the all volunteer military did not exist. All eligible males registered for the draft on their eighteenth birthday. A lottery was held and every day of the year was assigned a sequence number by random drawing. The number assigned to your birthday was YOUR sequence number. I drew a low number….. Rather than be drafted into a specialty in which I had no interest, I chose to enlist. Armor–Track mechanic…..
Some years later I joined the Army a second time. What is that I am hearing…”Why would you do that?” Well, because by this time the draft was becoming obsolete and I wanted to fly!! I already knew how to fly airplanes but I wanted to fly helicopters too. So I marched myself right down to the recruiting station and interviewed for direct entry into flight school. And as they say, “the rest is history..”
The Army’s Aviation Center is at Fort Rucker. That is in Alabama, if you didn’t know. All of the training for the aviation branch takes place there. The hardest part of Army Aviator training was getting into the school. Being accepted into the direct entry program was only the first step. You had to complete the officer/warrant officer development training before advancing into flight training. Mistakes here were costly. Screw up and you were asked to leave (and not politely either..). With your exit went your wasted effort, time and dreams of becoming an aviator. No second chances.
I spent about fourteen months at Fort Rucker. After completing flight school I went on to fly for the Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory doing some testing on equipment to enhance survivability for pilots. Then off to an advanced aircraft transition to learn more about military air doctrine and to learn to fly attack helicopters. The FMC version of the Cobra was the last and best of the AH-1S line. When the AH-64 came on-line, aerial tactics and maneuver changed greatly. What had once been about “survivability” on the battlefield, was now about taking the battle to the enemy. A real game-changer.
I loved my tours in Europe. Good time. Fun time. Hard work time. Some of you may remember the days of the “Iron Curtain” and a divided Germany, and some of you might actually have seen the “wall.” It was a troubling time. We went “camping” frequently, usually in the snow. At least that is how it seemed. Regardless of what you may think, tents don’t make good houses. Flying our aircraft along the border, hearts would pound and stomachs threaten to empty when enemy anti-aircraft radar “locked” on our aircraft. Instantly you wonder, “Is this the time..”? I think they were just screwing with us, having a bit of fun at our expense. But we didn’t know that then…..
Did you know that deep in the Black Forest near the Austrian border stands a monument to wealth and excess (and beauty..)? Called Schloss Neuschwanstein, it was the model or inspiration for the Disney castle. A neat place to visit, so I did. And I have smelled the clean air of the mountains, drank cold beer at a cloistered monastery, enjoyed Oktoberfest, visited the Paris Air Show, enjoyed the hospitality of the country of Luxemburg, visited the Queens palace and castle, rode double-decker buses, ate a meal at a real English pub, and in general learned a lot about a continent and countries so old they make the United States look like an infant…………Yes, the military life was very good for me.