We thought it might be really interesting to have a guest post series about military life, brought to us by Leto and Avalune. The idea came about after an exchange a few weeks ago between Leto, Avalune, and another commenter. We suggested the guest posts, and they graciously agreed!
They plan to wow us with as many unintelligible military acronyms as they can promised to keep these threads as jargon free as possible.
Over the course of several weeks, we’ll introduce the series and cover deployments, moving, working for the military, and military family life. In the next post, we’ll get the perspective of the person being deployed, and the following week we’ll cover the same topic from the perspective of the spouse who was not.
So… we’ll have two perspectives on each topic, plus this introduction, for a total of 7 posts – unless folks are wildly interested in some other military-related topic that gets raised in one of the posts. But we can’t go on for too much longer than that, because Leto and Avalune are scheduled to do a one-week bike tour in Maine in May. Can you believe it?
We are planning on Saturday afternoons, so both Avalune and Leto can participate; it can be a real-time conversation for anyone who is interested. But we also want to make this as accessible to as many people as possible, so we’ll pick a set time on Wednesday evenings when they can be around for a second real-time conversation on the post from the previous Saturday, for folks who find that time more convenient.
If the series sounds interesting, mark your calendars for Saturday, March 7 for Leto’s perspective on deployment, followed by Avalune’s perspective on March 14. (Or the corresponding Wednesday dates.)
Military Life: Two Perspectives is listed in the sidebar under Featuring – and in the hamburger on mobile – to make the series easy to find.
Let’s use this thread to share your input on the kinds of things you would like to hear about in the upcoming posts, anything about military life that you have always wondered about, and any thoughts you might have about the upcoming series.
But first, a few words directly from Leto and Avalune.
One of the things that we discuss in the military, at least my friends and I did, was the mil/civilian divide. Specifically that unlike the WW2/Vietnam generations it seems like most civilians don’t really know/understand the military outside of the jingoistic sport-ball “appreciation” tributes, high-profile action-military movies, or “military discounts” at various stores. I hope that we can pull back the curtain on some of these things. Also understand that my experiences will have a distinct blue tint as I am a life-long Air Force member. And yes that does mean 5-star hotel experiences, champagne/caviar, and nothing but the softest toilet paper known to man.
A lot of military-life stories available for general public consumption fall into one of two categories: either “I put on fancy panties and shaved my legs in preparation for marital bliss upon his triumphant return,” or “everything is crap.” I’d like to discuss the less talked-about facets of reunions, why moving isn’t always a dirty word, and what it’s like to be a patriot when patriotism is weaponized.
Take it away, guys. Help make this what you want. (Let’s make this a politics-free thread.)
This is me. I look forward to this series. Thanks for organizing, WG.
@Baud: First commenter, and you read the post. We are off to a good start! :-)
P.S. You are most welcome.
Thanks to Leto and Avalune and I really look forward to the series also.
I think this sounds really interesting.
Look forward to this. Eldest son is about to retire after over 20 years in the Army. We’ve lived some of what these two will be presenting second hand.
Sounds like a great series!
What kinds of things is everybody interested in hearing about?
I’m pretty sure that Leto & Avalune are on hand, ready to jump in, so if you have thoughts or questions, please share.
Leto and Avelune, are you guys up for sharing some background about what you both do, or is that something you are saving for the deployment posts?
Okay, I’ll ask a dumb question. Does anything in the military even remotely resemble what we see on TV? Seal Team, Valor, The Brave, The Unit, Army Wives? Any show?
Which seems like a great rationale for mandatory National service, not necessarily in the military but certainly that would be a component of it.
@WaterGirl: Uniform service are technically on duty 24/7. However, there’s a lot of everyday life rhythm except when deployed.
@WaterGirl: Any show? How about Gomer Pyle, USMC?
@WaterGirl: We probably want to save something for the posts but we’re here and up to answer some questions.
@HinTN: Okay, maybe not that show.
I’ve read that the most realistic cop show ever made was Barney Miller — a sitcom set entirely in a detective squad room. Reality is almost never as exciting or as fraught with drama as a TV show.
@HinTN: It’s totally like Gomer Pyle in the ANG.
@Avalune: I asked a dumb question at #9. You guys could answer that one.
Unknown acronym alarm blaring!!!
I do think this will be a very interesting and enlightening series. Thanks WG for putting it together and to the dramatis personae for sharing.
I didn’t watch Army Wives if I’m honest. Probably more like Instagram with filters. #nofilter #totallywokeuplikethis #blessmillife
@Avalune: Ok, that put me in my place. ;^)
I agree that the idea of what military personnel would like for us to understand would be preferable. We have a program at my university where military officers stay for a year for study. We had one particular officer, high ranking Special Forces, who also saw himself a bit of an ambassador for his service. Anyway, long story short, in the last year, I have learned more about the military than I ever knew. More importantly, it’s astonishing how little one can actually know, even about the WW II/Vietnam eras, even hearing stories from family.
@Avalune: I don’t do instagram, so now I am double clueless.
A bit O/T, but this is twice today I’ve seen a WaterGirl reference to “the hamburger,” and I didn’t get one! Please, how do I find my very own hamburger? (iPhone, Safari)
This sounds like a really interesting series of threads. Thank you for setting it up, and to Leto and Avalune for sharing their perspectives.
AND WHAT THE HELL? MY NYM AND EMAIL DISAPPEARED!
Air National Guard? (A non-American’s guess.)
@SiubhanDuinne: Hi SD! The hamburger is the 3 horizontal lines at the top right on a phone – click it and it shows you a list of things you can click on.
If you’re on a tablet, in landscape, you see everything we see on a computer. But on a tablet in portrait, you see the mobile version, and your very own hamburger will be on the upper right there, too.
What’s up with your nym? Are you by any chance using a private browsing window? It can’t save them there.
I know this is a politics-free thread, and I comment about once a decade now, but I am very curious about prevailing political attitudes in the military (conservative? democratic? theocratic?) and current protocols for responding to sexual assault of women who serve.
@matryoshka: I should have said election/primary-free thread.
@Amir Khalid: Is Air National Guard different from the Air Force?
@matryoshka: Great questions.
Drawing upon this observation, I would guess that Major Dad was quite realistic re life in the US Marines.
@WaterGirl: Unfortunately, I can’t say that I have watched any of those shows!
Re: Instagram – basically, I was saying that those shows most likely are contrived drama that do not much resemble the day-to-day life – in a way similar to how people sort of “fake” instagram posts by going to a lot of trouble for a perfect shot and the perfect lighting and perfect make up and hair all while saying they just woke up that way and everything is sooooo amazing. Facebook is good for that too – a filtered life which sort of tricks other people into comparing themselves to this highly edited version and wondering what’s wrong with them!
Re: ANG Amir is correct, Air National Guard.
@SiubhanDuinne: Do you see the hamburger?
@WaterGirl: I’ll share some background! I originally came in 1997 in the 2E1X3 career field, Ground Radio Maintenance. I was under the semi-delusion that it might have something to do with car radios… instead I came to learn that it was a fairly vast/broad career field that spanned everything from maintaining the communication systems of the air traffic controllers, mobile/tactical radio systems (think of the radio you see on the back of the GI as the Lt calls in for an air strike/artillery barrage/food order), HF radio systems (ham radio), and so many more.
I’ve had a variety of assignments that have taken us around the world and have included being the boss of a small shop (6 person team), large shop (42 person team), instructor for my career field where I helped train about 300 Airmen a year (did that for 5 years), and I finished it out as the lead Plans and Projects manager where I led my team of 3 in IT Project Management for my last base, with a portfolio totaling a bit $500M. I’ve been a participant in countless military exercises and I’ve also helped plan multi-Major Command exercises.
In 2017 I was due to retire and we were due to stay at our base in England. We loved it there. Loved the villages, most of the people, and we had zero plans of coming back. But then election happened and over the next few months most of the federal workforce was put on a hiring freeze. That’s where my job was going to be: federal job there on base. As such, I had to scramble to look for work and that’s when I was hired by the PA National Guard. Fast forward to October 2018 and most of ya’ll know the rest. :)
@Avalune: That, I understood! Thank you.
This is a wonderful idea and I’m looking forward to it. I had next to zero exposure to the military most of my life until I did some government contracting work and met some wonderful Air Force folks, and was really ashamed of my ignorance.
Obviously a TV show will try to pick the most dramatic and interesting aspects of life, because watching a random day in the life of anyone, even someone in an exciting career, would be too boring to make good entertainment. I think Dragnet (at least the radio version) managed this kind of thing pretty well. They made it clear they were telling stories from a whole police department, but changing the names so it was always the same characters every week.
@WaterGirl: Yes – the old notion of the National Guard was the weekend warrior. Maybe you retired after a 20 year career in the regular service and continued to serve in the NG while having a civilian career. Perpetual war has caused the role of the NG to change somewhat from the old paradigm.
I and my wife have been in the Navy for 18 years now. So much of the military is support that, no, I don’t think there are many tv shows that are particularly accurate because that would be boring.
I’m a linguist by trade and I work in an office (NSA facility in Georgia) and translating is largely really boring. It’s like looking for a needle in an otherwise indistinguishable pile of needles.
I think the only thing I can really relate to a service member doing a job like Army infantrymen is the deployment separation, which totally sucks.
This will bring back memories. Looking forward to it.
Yay, Leto and Avalune! Looking forward to your posts! That is all, carry on!
I’m not qualified to say what the Air National Guard is or does. But as I remember, it was brought up in the 2004 presidential campaign that George Walker Bush absented himself from the Texas Air National Guard to do his MBA.
@WaterGirl: You know, there’s grains of truth with everything. I Generally tend to not watch any of those because I just don’t like them. They’re non-relatable to me. But with that being said, the few snippets that I’ve seen of some of those shows, sometimes they’ve hit closer to the truth than you’d think. I’ll have to dig up some of the more crazy stories to share. Most people will be like… seriously??? Seriously???
@matryoshka: Unfortunately, much of the military remains conservative, Republican or Die in our experience. These views are very frustrating. Depending on the setting, you can have dialogue and more are starting to turn away from the current state of republicans but mostly you want to spray them all with a firehose.
There are a number of ways for a woman to report abuse (men too – it does happen both ways); however, the culture has a long way to go to shift. I can remember a “green dot” training, where we were discussing things like how to spot someone in trouble, how to be a good wingman etc, and almost walking out of the mandatory training because the military members were not taking it seriously at all and their poor taste jokes were being laughed at and held up for discussion by the training leaders. I didn’t see the point in staying for the mandatory training if it was just a damned joke. I didn’t walk out but I did provide a lot of feedback on how poor I found the training to be and how the running of it was running counter productive to the culture shift it was trying to achieve.
I had no idea that was what those lines were called! I was looking for an image similar to the pie icon. Thanks for the education.
I don’t think I’m using a private browsing window. I wouldn’t know how to do that in the first place. And I haven’t changed any settings or done anything differently.
@Leto: I have decided that my role in this thread is to ask every question I think of, no matter how dumb, so no one will have to worry about whether their question is a dumb question.
Your comment about being under the semi-delusion that the career field you chose might be related to car radios brought something to mind.
Is it really a thing that recruits are often lied to and think they are joining the military to do one thing, but that often bears no resemblance to what they will actually be doing? And then they are stuck with no recourse?
Don’t have much time other than to say what a great idea! Looking forward to reading the posts.
@SiubhanDuinne: I’m not going to lie, I was kind of expecting an actual hamburger too.
The Air National Guard is just like the National Guard*, but for the Air Force rather than the Army.
*Which strictly speaking should be called the Army National Guard.
@matryoshka: Hey! Great questions. I’ll say that while the political bent of the military tends towards conservative, you have a lot of libs in here too. Maybe not to the extent that a lot of people here on the blog are, but they vote Dem and the hold progressive views. But also understand that even if the political ideology doesn’t trend towards conservative/Republican, the military itself is conservative in nature in that it’s slow to change. Just like the great ship of state, it takes time for the military to make changes in many respects.
Regarding sexual assault: the military was bad on that. The military has done a lot to change this dynamic and part of that was in response to female/male members time in Iraq/Afghanistan. “It’s a war zone and shit happens” is such a fucking horrible excuse when we expected to count on each other, often with our lives. The other part was Sen Gillibrand. She’s a tireless advocate of this and it shows.
If you’d like to know more about the Air Forces programs, take a look at this link.
Is there a Coast Guard National Guard?
@WaterGirl: I have no doubt he will answer your question about recruiting. There is something to it. They do sometimes kind of tell you what they think you want to hear. They do sometimes just actually not have a clue what they are talking about and give bad info out of ignorance more than malice. Career fields are constantly changing, so what you signed up for may shift by the time you are trained to do it. Or maybe the needs of the base change, so they kind of stick you somewhere else. Or maybe too many people make rank, so someone’s gotta move. This can mean you are stuck but sometimes there are means of recourse like cross-training or relocating to a new duty station.
@Avalune: As a military spouse, there was training for you?
What would a Coast Guard National Guard do in, say, Colorado?
@WaterGirl: Oh yes, as soon as you said it was the three horizontal lines I knew exactly what you meant. I just had never heard it called a hamberder.
And nym/email once again are back and saved. No idea what that was about. Now if only you could do something about the ads that cover the “refresh” option and directional arrows, I’d be ever so grateful… ?
And here I was kind of patting myself on the back because I am FINALLY remembering that not everyone uses a laptop and that I need to include instructions for mobile too, and then actually remember to MAKE the mobile menu item.
You guys all keep me humble. But in the nicest possible way. :-)
@WaterGirl: To go back to an earlier question – I’ll talk a bit about what I do/have done on my post about working. My portfolio is rather varied, due in part to some discrimination and in part to there just being a lack of job opportunities on some of our assignments. I’ve also worked for the military, as a civilian employee, so I will be able to compare that a bit. Heck I might even talk about the myth of the dependapotomus and how much that word makes me want to punch people (like Bloomberg makes me want to punch him but times 1 million).
@guachi: Seaman! /s
Yeah the support roles are usually delegated to the “quirky” comedy side kick in such shows. Or the Uber introverted nerd. I will say that the best movie I’ve seen that features both you (Navy) and me (radio repair dude) was “Crimson Tide”. In it the comms go down and it’s up to the electronics technician (some 20 year old kid) to “fix the radio so we can get find out if we’re supposed to nuke the russkies or not!” Denzel in his finest role. I originally watched it pre-military and thought it was neat. After I’d been in the job for a few years, I happened to watch it again and saw how absolutely silly it was: dude repairing equipment with live power on, arcing and sparking shit everywhere… but I loved that we had a prominent role in the story :)
@Amir Khalid: Monitor the Colorado River?
@Amir Khalid: Water ski.
@WaterGirl: I was working for the military as a civilian, so yes, civilian and military must do trainings for things like Active Shooters, Green Dot (what they started calling the sexual abuse training ), suicide, and Opsec. I had to swear to defend the constitution and everything. :D
I just had a conversation about that with John tonight. Now that the ad guy is back from vacation, the full-screen ads that cover the whole damn phone are gone. Yay!
I said “what about the annoying ads at the top that are so frustrating?” I asked if he could get back with the ad guy on THOSE ads, and he asked who was complaining about that, and where.
When I answered: by email, in the comments, and occasionally the site feedback form, John basically said that anyone can grouse in the comments, but that he will take seriously the site feedback submissions.
A couple of weeks ago I added a 3rd item to the site feedback form (it was site feedback and report a problem). Now there’s also Report an Ad Issue.
So EVERYONE who gets the fucking annoying ads at the banner or a full-screen ad should go to Site Feedback and pick the report an ad option, and submit their complaint.
I included a file attachment option, so you can send a screen capture of the ads.
@Avalune: As I feared, on both counts. I guess the Republican sympathies mean we are only inches away from theocracy, really. And I am disheartened to hear that women still cannot serve without the expectation of abuse. Nothing has changed since my daughter served (Iraq, 2002-2005). She returned utterly apolitical and loathes “thank you for your service” sentimentality.
Leto and Avelune: You might be too young to know the difference unless you were born imto military families. Has the social media of the internet made much of a difference in the lives of military families?
I am not from a military family, but my father’s career path made us move a lot all through my childhood. We moved every couple of years until I was twelve and then I shuffled between schools. Basically, I was never in one place and one school for more than two years for my entire K-12 education. So by then I was used to change, and didn’t really settle down until I was married for the second time in my forties.
I have no childhood friends, because I kept being moved. My husband has been in the same town and the same social circles for three generations. His parents and his friends parents dated each other. My sister’s thirty-something children have known their best friends since daycare.
Back when I was in my twenties I knew some military kids, and their one negative issue with military life was the rootlessness of continuously moving and losing friends. They liked seeing the world, but they had regrets about the no ties.
Is it different now that they might keep in touch via the internet?
@Amir Khalid: My brother, a Navy guy who ended up in Memphis, always said, “There’s no sea duty like Tennessee duty.”
Could we also deconstruct the hierarchy in Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey, 1950-1999?
It took quite a while before I could get Leto to just watch something with AF in it WITHOUT commenting on how stupid and wrong everything was… eventually he gave up and I was glad because of course it is stupid and wrong! I think one of my fav bad movie things was an upside down
That’s not what right looks like! (This is a military in joke related to a series of commercials on the Armed Forces Network that was doing a “don’t do this but do that” kind of campaign about things you shouldn’t do like running back into the building when the National Anthem comes on – which I admit I did more than once).
IIRC, the National Guard is only for the Army and Air Force. NG units are supposed to be under the command of their state’s governor, except when they’re nationalized for service during wartime. That’s why it’s always the National Guard that’s called in during natural disasters; they’re under the command of the state government, so they don’t face the same bureaucratic obstacles the regular military or reserve units would.
In practice, though, a lot changed with the post-Vietnam reorganization of the military. The Army was reorganized to make it difficult for it to do much without the support of Reserve and National Guard units. That was intended as a backstop to the War Powers Act, since it would supposedly make it more politically fraught for the President to try starting a war on his own hook. It doesn’t seem to have worked out that way, and it means even a “limited” war winds up disrupting the lives of a lot of weekend warriors.
@matryoshka: I wouldn’t go so far to say nothing has changed. Things have changed. I just also wouldn’t go so far to say that the culture shift is moving with any kind of alacrity and things like that training demonstrate the distance they still have to go.
@Roger Moore: My husband was in the Coast Guard reserves during Vietnam. His brother was regular Coast Guard. Their older brother was in Vietnam in the Army.
Lots of the Coast Guard Reserve guys stayed in for years.
@WaterGirl: Yeah, some are. I don’t know how many because by the time they got to me it was quite a while after basic training and part of their technical school pre-job training (when I was an instructor), and at least a year later when I was in a non-teaching spot.
Military recruiters have quotas, and they have serious pressure to fill those quotas. They have weekly contact quotas, monthly sign up quotas, and yearly quotas. When the economy is good, generally recruitment is bad. When the economy sucks, or there’s a war/major conflict, recruit is high.
And built into that is the recruiters yearly evaluation, which affects his/her promotion chances. So with that type of pressure, how do they hold onto their integrity (Air Force Core Value #1)? There’s also the issue of you can’t realistically explain absolutely everything that happens, or will happen. I mean I can tell you about basic training, what will probably happen, but I can’t tell you that you won’t have 49 other scared shitless people who have been thrown into a totally unknown world, expected to gel/form into a team, do everything together in synchronization, and make it out the other side in a semi-normal fashion.
Part of the reason so many military members/veterans like the first half of Full Metal Jacket is that it resembles what we went through. For a large part, it was realistic. They’re not allowed to physically touch you anymore, but they sure as hell are allowed to berate you in every other sense. It’s one thing to see it in a movie, another thing to live it for 6-12 weeks.
It strikes me that the biggest difference between today and past wars like WW2 are the trajectory and duration. My middle daughter was born on March 20, 2003, which was the day that Bush invaded Iraq. I remember sitting there that morning in my wife’s hospital room watching the start of the invasion on CNN as we were waiting for her scheduled c-section. My daughter is now 4 weeks away from being old enough to join up herself and we are still in Iraq.
By contrast the American war in Europe basically ran from the November 16, 1942 invasion of North Africa to V-E day on May 8, 1945 which was basically 29 months.
The Pacific war started sooner with Pearl Harbor or the Battle of the Philippines in November 1941 and ran until V-J day on August 14, 1945 or about 45 months.
Basically the entire American involvement in WW2 lasted about as long as Trump has been in office. And, other than special cases like the American prisoners captured in the Philippines, no one was deployed in combat zones anywhere near that long because the fronts kept moving month by month.
These days one can have served an entire 20 year military career and not experience a time when we were not at war. That has to be fundamentally different from the military of old. I would be curious to hear comment about that. It must really widen the gulf between civilian and military life. If 9-11 was our generation’s Pearl Harbor then it would be as if WW2 lasted until 1960.
@Sab: Actually, we can speak to this to a point because when we started the military you still had to wait on a land line phone call but by the end of it we would play wow together during his deployments. We’ll touch on some of this in our deployment posts; however, we are in much better touch with people we served with at various posts. Our son, who grew up a military brat and now serves himself, stays in touch with his friends in a way that would have been more difficult before.
While it IS easier for families to stay in better contact and feel less isolated and embed in new locations more quickly thanks to the ability to join a group, forum, or just ask questions of folks stationed there – and this is generally superior to your sponsor – it also can make for operational security issues (OPSEC) and put folks in danger. We had to suspend using Facebook to advertise events because bad actors had started targeting and tracking where military members might be using their photos, posts and interactions. Our son is not on any social media for security concerns.
There’s a difference between the Reserves and the National Guard.
Really interesting answers to my questions, thank you!
I am guessing you will talk about sponsors in a later post?
Lord I typed metal rack…it’s a medal rack but guys, it was UPSIDE DOWN. Let’s focus on that part.
One of my friends at work is an Air Force vet (he did his four years, didn’t like it, and got out). He says that he picked the Air Force because he wouldn’t be expected to sleep on the ground. ??
It’s wasn’t a movie, it was John Amos’ character in “The West Wing”. One of the episodes he had his ribbon rack on upside down. I was like… I’m done! I’m done! NO MAS! :P
@Sab: I’m old enough to know the pre-internet era and how it took over the military :P
It has changed the military and it’ll be part of what I talk about during my “Deployment” post, as well as “Military Life”. But I’ll give this example: my son was born a year before I joined, so all he knows is the internet. The friends he’s made over the years, the ones he has wanted to keep in touch with he’s done so via email/text/gaming systems. As he got older it got to the point to where they didn’t really come over to each other’s houses to hang out, they simply played XBox and chatted together via that.
He doesn’t really have a home town, per se, either. I’m pretty sure that once he leaves the service (he’s active duty AF) that he’ll join us. Or we’ll join him. We’re used to moving and I’m staring to feel antsy :P
@Avalune: I edited your comment to strike out metal and added MEDAL.
@WaterGirl: Eh I have way too much to say about moving to really go into much about sponsor in a post, so I’ll answer that here:
When you are assigned a new base, you are also assigned a sponsor. This is a military member who is located at your new base. They are supposed to help you transition. So they might do things like assist with finding a hotel that’s dog friendly, picking you up at the airport, telling you what kinds of things you should just sell in a garage sale because you only get one transformer and you may have German plugs and European plugs in THE SAME DAMNED HOUSE. Sometimes, your sponsor is pretty great. And sometimes he’s a dingbat single dude who doesn’t have a clue about what concerns/needs a family might have and therefore is of little use.
@Avalune: Thank you! I’m find all of this really interesting.
@Leto: Oh oh and the other fun thing about movies is the way people salute. That’s definitely not what right looks like.
And when they have an airman doing sarg things or vice versa. That makes me giggle.
You guys are going to cover saluting in the live video chat for all of balloon juice that we’re going to hold at the end of the final post, right? //
Of course the AF gets caviar and stuff. They have all the best golf courses, also too.
Looking forward to it. Thanks.
Thw length of wars is longer but the casualty rate is way, way less (I suspect those two things are related). It seems like apples and oranges to this civilian.
@WaterGirl: Lol! Yeah I’ll leave that one to him. He can show you a British salute while he’s at it. They are a little different.
I can say we’ve sometimes walked around essentially slapping ourselves on our foreheads shouting DER YES SIR because sometimes the salutes are so bad!
Out of curiosity, what qualities would you guys like to see in a Commander in Chief?
The Coast Guard Reserve
@SiubhanDuinne: Thanks for submitting your ad complaint though the form!
@Kent: I’ve thought a lot about this and I’ll say that there’s some valid points there. But a bigger factor in the divide is the fact that less than 1% of the population serve. Compare that with WW2 numbers, roughly 25% served while the rest were almost directly contributing to the effort, and with Vietnam numbers… my grandparents basically didn’t know anyone who didn’t serve. Same with my parents (Vietnam). My dad was a few numbers away from being drafted himself.
This also leads me to the problems with the all-volunteer force: what happens when you have a majority of the population that don’t want to volunteer, regardless of whether it’s peacetime or not? It’s why you saw the Army/Marines loosening standards during Iraq/Afghanistan, where they were letting in people with criminal records because they needed the bodies.
Some of the military don’t want to go back to the draft because “you can’t control what you get”. Fair point. But when you can’t get what you want (smart/educated/physically fit people), wtf do you do? This is part of what leaders (civilian/military) need to discuss and figure out. It’s always going to be a balancing act, but it needs to happen.
@Baud: I’ve got a dollar that says “not be a totally fucking moron and psychopath” is close to the top of the list. But Im sure their list will be more constructive.
@Kent: Not exactly the same as what you are saying but we had occasion to go to the base the other day to resubmit paperwork because some people are less than good at their jobs (looking at you again guardsmen) and we were discussing how the base is 100% of the time in Threatcon Bravo… and has been since 9/11 basically … and since it is ALWAYS in Bravo, it makes Bravo pretty irrelevant. It is really hard to “stay vigilant” for this length of time.
Hooray for the Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children! Marine commandant banishes Confederate symbols from all Corps installations
R. Lee Ermey, before his acting debut in Full Metal Jacket, was a military consultant for movies and TV. How successful were he and his peers at keeping them accurate?
@Amir Khalid: you know of all the cop shows my dad ever mentioned watching, he loved Barney Miller for just that reason*. There was one scene that showed Miller coming home and taking the bullets out of his gun, locking them in one case, and then walking across the room to lock the gun in a safe. My dad did that every night.
* He died before Homicide: Life in the Streets aired, but as a homicide cop I think he would have liked that one too.
Someone upthread mentioned that we should have mandatory national service, not specifically military, and I’m like 10000000000% for that. It reminded me of two Charlie Pierce articles about that. These need to be engraved in stone and kept forever:
Ciongoli The Post Office Is Not an Other. The Post Office Is Us.
The Post Office Is Still Ours. The Post Office Is Dying.
That’s called a hamburger — I always think of it as the menu bars.
I’m looking forward to hearing Leto and Avalune’s stories. Military life is something I know next to nothing about.
Some background: although all the men in my extended family in my father’s generation went off to World War II, they never talked about it, always downplayed it. It needed to be done, they did it, so what.
In contrast, the oft-repeated (but somewhat exaggerated) family story was that our grandfathers’ generation emigrated here to avoid serving in the Czar’s army: as soon as the oldest son was nearing draft age, it was off to America, where he was to work hard and send money home so his next youngest brother could book his passage.
Not that the girls didn’t emigrate too, but the point of the story was that we were proud to have cheated the Czar.
Add to that that my early teen years were the late 1960s, when the older cousins and brothers in my circles were all petrified of being drafted; one of my best friend’s brothers high-tailed it to Canada, but most of the others went the student deferment route (by the time the boys in my age group came of age, the lottery was in place. Student deferments were still the thing but guys with high numbers were very relieved).
I had an English teacher in junior high who freely admitted he was only in front of us because it was his ticket out of being drafted. He wasn’t much of a teacher but we thought him a cool guy.
Can you see where this is going? In the milieu I was raised in, military service was, not to put too fine a point in it, seen as something for suckers, World War II aside, because that was an outlier of a war.
As an adult, when I read about things like the shenanigans in Colorado Springs, or about the high numbers of women service members who are assaulted by the men they serve with, all my prejudices are reinforced.
And then I settle into Balloon Juice, and there’s John and Sooner Grunt and Ruckus, and Leto and others, and the military is part of who they are. They are all great guys, they’re liberal and forward-thinking and smart and very decent human beings.
It’s a good feeling to shake up preconceptions. Looking forward to more jiggling and joggling. I’ll be looking out for this series of posts.
Seems appropriate since, you know, we won.
@Baud: I would take a lamp over our current CIC.
Someone who understands foreign policy, actually knows where places are on a map, someone who puts quality people in the military leadership positions and trusts what they have to say, yet is willing to actually study briefings and talk to people to assure they are taking the best course of action, someone who doesn’t wield the military like it’s a fucking tank instead of people with lives, who doesn’t use it for personal gain, doesn’t use it like a mercenary corp, who doesn’t blab shit to make himself look cool to his dictator friends all the while putting people in danger… ok well I’m obviously just getting mad about our current commander (and I haven’t even gotten to his gutting VA and other programs meant to take care of the military and gutting anything that isn’t for a tank or for his @#[email protected]#$ wall, smearing gold star families, crapping on widowed spouses, and saying stupid things like “I like people who aren’t captured” or this crap about oh well they just have headaches, you know no big deal)…so I guess this is more about what qualities I do NOT want our commander to have…
@SiubhanDuinne: yeah, that too banner as has to go. Even when you minimize it it covers the arrows.
I knew it! Of course, as a retired submariner I guess I can’t complain too much since it’s well known that we dine on steak and lobster every night, on bone china, white linen, and silver tableware. ;-)
@Baud: Restraint. The power the President has calls to mind the old saying, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” I like Warren’s answer on these matters. But they’re the answers you can give when you don’t have the responsibility. It also helps that she has military family, so she has some first hand knowledge.
I want a CiC that’s going to rebuild the State Dept, fix our foreign relations, stop fucking shitting on NATO/military allies at every goddamned turn. Also I don’t feel it’s necessary to have military experience, but it doesn’t hurt being involved with vets and knowing what we go through. We’re a constituency too :)
@satby: Check out my comment at #62. Use the Site Feedback form and choose Report an Ad, and submit your ad complaint. If you are annoyed enough to submit the form, that holds sway with John.
Well yes, obviously serving in Iraq or Afghanistan is a different kind of war from D-Day or Okinawa or Iwo Jima. But that kind of brutal combat was only experienced by a fairly small percentage of the WW2-era military forces too. According to Google, 16 million Americans served in WW2 but less than 1 million ever saw combat.
I was just throwing out the notion that endless war in the 21st Century has to be fundamentally different than the short discrete wars we used to have. It has to have a different effect on service members and families, especially when most of the country is largely oblivious.
@Ohio Mom: I worked many years in IT and never heard it called anything but a menu bar until WG kept telling me “look in the hamburger” in testing. I had no idea what she was on about until she explained, and in my mind it’s still the menu bars?
@Ohio Mom: We’re a microcosm of American life at large, full of all the same wants, desires, prejudices, predilections as the rest of the country. I mentioned a few comments back that my dad was almost drafted; we’ve had conversations about it and he’s told me he probably would’ve gone to Canada if his number was picked. And I totally understand that position. I don’t hold animosity towards the people who did that, not like some of the old timers when I first came in (they’d joined in late 70s, early 80s).
On the flip side, when I was selected to go to Iraq and I told my family (son and parents), my son begged me not to go because he’d seen the news with me, knew what was going on over there, and didn’t want me to die. I told him that I was going because it was my duty and I couldn’t bear the thought of getting out of it, having someone else go in my place, and they die because of that. Don’t get me wrong, I was scared shitless, but I also wasn’t going to pass this off to someone else. I’d taken an oath and I was going to honor that oath.
A Ghost To Most
My service (post-Vietnam) was far more M*A*S*H than it is now.
Thanks for serving.
@WaterGirl: saw that. Deciding how annoyed I am now ?
@Rich Webb: Haha! <3
My grandfather was a submariner. After WW2 he ran the Charleston Submarine Naval Yards for quite a while. In high school, for 9th grade, I was in Navy ROTC. That experience almost put me off of military service for life. Found out it wasn’t all shirtless beach volley ball and karaoke!
@matryoshka: We’ll talk more about avoiding “thank you for your service.” We both struggle with wanting to be proud of said service but also feeling reluctant to show any such pride and avoiding wearing anything that hints that he’s a veteran or we have had anything to do with the service, using our military discount, etc. We pretty much only “come out” when we’re at a veteran’s specific event at the college where I’m currently employed. Most of the time I use my teacher discount over the mil discount or just pay full price. So we completely understand her feeling on that front and will talk about that more in future posts.
My wife is from Chile and went to med school there. In Chile, med school is free but then all newly minted doctors are required to serve for 3 years in the rural health service (or military service). It’s like a rite of passage for all doctors. My wife did her time at a rural hospital in southern Chile. Rich kids can bail on their service but then they owe the complete cost of medical school back to the government with interest which is several hundred grand so only the most richest of the rich take that option.
This seems like a way to kill two birds with one stone. Address the college cost problem and the national service problem at the same time.
I have sprinted for the car on more than one occasion. The Giant Voice really mangles it where I’m at.
@A Ghost To Most: Thanks for your service too. :)
There were times that we had to test equipment on board ship while under way and equipment hot, just to see if was working correctly or responding correctly. In my department, interior communications, we had equipment in every compartment except tanks, all of the navigation equipment, all of the communications between anyone/anywhere, including ships at sea refueling and telephone system while in port, all except radios.
Not that one wanted to do things that way but that’s just the way it worked out.
@satby: The last one that came in was “just the facts” and I’m not sure how compelling that approach would be. If I were frustrated enough to submit the form, I would make that very clear.
I love this idea. It’s the veteran perspective from people like John, Soonergrunt, and Villago Delenda Est that made this blog distinctive to me from the time I started reading it years ago.
@HinTN: The Giant Voice mangles it because the frequency range of the speaker is very limited. It’s not meant to play music, it’s meant to play warning tones. Also based upon the distance from the speaker, how the sound from other speakers interact with what you’re hearing (multiple sound waves arriving at different times), the temperature/humidity… I maintained Giant Voice systems. They’re so much fun =/
@Ohio Mom: I totally understand what you are saying and I experienced a little of that. I’ll think about working that into a future post or just better addressing it at a later time.
@HinTN: Are you supposed to run back in the building when the anthem comes on. Or is that something you are not supposed to do?
@Ruckus: No no, same thing here: there are tests that you do with power on, with a load, etc… the scene involved the technician soldering components back in while the power was on!!!! That how you wind up doing the 60hz waltz and/or dead. Like, killed dead. :P
@HinTN: Ahaha! Speaking of Giant Voice, the teacher’s in the school behind us thought their kids were being cheeky during the American and British Anthems every day but it was actually our dog howling along patriotically day after day after day.
I might even be able to dig a video of that up.
@WaterGirl: Definitely something you are NOT supposed to do. You are supposed to stop immediately, face where ever flags are on the base, salute and stand at attention until it’s over. If you are in your car, you must stop immediately but you don’t have to be at attention. If you are overseas, you will have to stand for the host country anthem as well. It happens at 5pm when you’ve been at work all day and just want to go home and start dinner. :(
The director probably wanted the scene to be visually interesting, never mind that no tech would do anything so obviously dangerous.
@Avalune: There were only two things that would make my cocker spaniel howl:
The sound of an ambulance, when we were outside, and the sound of my mother singing. (She
did not have a good singing voicehad a terrible singing voice.)
@WaterGirl: You are absolutely not supposed to do that.
Rules regarding the playing of the National Anthem while on base:
Now… there are people who will run faster than Usain Bolt to get their asses back inside rather than do that. People driving will keep on driving, even though they see the time and other people pulled over. If I caught you (A military member) running, you best pray that I didn’t know your name/couldn’t find you. Me, you, and your boss would be having a talk about Core Values. If I saw a civilian still bee-bopping along while the anthem was playing, I’d gently remind them to please stop and wait.
I wouldn’t try to stop a car because the last time I did that, you guys had to start a GoFundMe page :P
Attempt at question. I counseled GI’s at a couple bases during Vietnam. We were part of a couple peace groups. I’ve got a few bad stories from that time, most resulted from the over the top “patriotism” leftover from “the good war” but also from the pressure to take a lot of young guys who didn’t want to be in the military or fighting the Vietnamese. MI (acronym= Military Intelligence) was subtle but omnipresent. We were obviously infiltrated, some wackos were easy to spot.
So question: Do you have any sense, anecdotes, or data about the degree of surveilance of civilians in military towns compared to what I know as the paranoid 60’s and early 70’s? This was the era of commie infiltration paranoia. Seems as though there is not a Muslim infiltration or middle-eastern infiltration scare that is comparable. And the history of bungled or morally ambiguous wars makes for a different dynamic.
Thoughts? Do we need historians?
@Leto: Wow. As a non-military person, that seems over the top to me. It sounds like you took it very seriously.
Did most people actually take that seriously, because they wanted to honor the flag and country and all that? Or did they comply because there were consequences if they did not.
Glad that you are far away enough that you can attempt that bit of humor. I know you still live with it every day and it must be maddening. Unless you have the patience of a saint?
Remember, Avalune will be able to read what you write :-)
@Kent: It def would be. It would also teach people about where the hell their tax dollars went, what it helped to support. Part of Pierces’ article talks about him doing that for the Forestry Service, helping to maintain a national park for a summer.
I’ll relate It to my military service like this: when I was a student going through technical school training (learning my job), one of the responsibilities we had was maintaining the building. We cleaned the classrooms, cleaned the bathrooms, swept/waxed the halls… at first it was annoying. Like, wtf am I doing this? Later it became: I did a really fucking awesome job buffing this hallway, the first motherfucker who scuffs it is gonna DIE!!! It instilled a sense of pride , a sense of ownership over the process that carried over in more ways throughout my career/life. I then did the same when I became a leader, and when I went back to the same building to teach.
Overall I would hope that national service would do that for our country.
@WaterGirl: I’m going to say mostly because that’s what they were trained to do. Civilians not following the rules could result in consequences for the military member. Civilians who were also employees were looking at double consequences in terms of possibly being reprimanded by their supervisor and/or consequences for the military member because everything the spouse/family members do reflect on the military and they must be under control – especially overseas or they could get sent back to the states.
@Amir Khalid: Oh def did! I’m just saying that pre/post military life shed different light on that scene.
Here’s another one that: AIR FORCE ONE! Where Harrison Ford plays the commander in chief trying to stop the baddies, save his family, and something something something AMERICA! I don’t totally remember it shot for shot, but one of the scenes has him calling back to Andrews AFB to talk with, essentially, the Crew Chief of Air Force 1. That’s the lead enlisted maintainer for an airframe.
Honest to dog, they brought out Technical Orders, were going through them tracing shit out, doing this doing that… that was actually an accurate scene. There are times when an aircraft has to make a maintenance stop and they need to call back to home base and troubleshoot over the phone with more knowledgeable people about something broken. So A+ on that one!
@WaterGirl: Patience…of a saint. Loooooooooooooool.
That’s very amusing.
It does still really suck but he’s made such huge progress and you kind of have no choice but to kind of laugh about it sometimes.
@WaterGirl: Haha! I think I was making jokes near the end of my hospital stay, but yeah it’s taken some time. My patience has gotten better, though there are still times where I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and it’s best to steer clear of me.
Avalune sees it all, but I try to be better around randoms. I recognize I’m having a shit day and I just stay quiet, because otherwise I’m likely to just unload on some poor unsuspecting person, and then they feel like shit, I feel like shit, it’s a clusterfuck that was totally avoidable if I just kept my yap shut, so I just keep my yap shut.
@WaterGirl: Avalune summed it up pretty well. It’s drilled into us since day 1, so there’s no excuse. It’s 2 minutes, 30 seconds out of your day to pay respect. Don’t be a JACKWAGON! :P
@Avalune: Yikes. It’s all about order and discipline, I suppose.
@Dan B: Dan I have no idea on this front but it seems like since everyone is carrying a tracking/data collection device at all times military or civilian is being watched by everyone all the time as is! Maybe Leto knows more about that.
@WaterGirl: That said, I’d legit knock someone over trying to get back in the door of the building if I heard the mic open up. You had a few seconds between the mic opening up and the start of the anthems and retreat. But I’ve never been a “good military spouse” by many accounts lol.
@Leto: How far you’ve come is terribly impressive. So even on your bad days, i am guessing you are grateful to be alive and mobile, even as you are not yet as mobile as you used to be. Perspective is an amazing thing.
@WaterGirl: @Avalune: I did a lot of crying over the first few months, but I still have days where my emotions get the better of me. Last week at PT the song “Dust in the Wind”, by Kansas, came on and I had to remove myself to a side room because my brain latched onto some lyrics.
There was a term the Marines coined, “Embrace the suck”, that sums it up for me. Only way to get through it it go through it. Lead, follow, or GTFOut of the way. I’ve always lead, so…
Mike in NC
I was in the Navy Reserve from 1980 to 2010. Until 9/11, in my experience most civilians were apathetic, even hostile to service members. I had a couple of job interviews where the hiring managers thought that I was little better than somebody on food stamps or welfare. Then after 9/11 we had all the “thank you for your service” nonsense.
@Avalune: Laughing. I am so not cut out for the military, as a spouse or otherwise. On so many levels.
@Dan B: You’ll probably need historians because that’s something I really don’t know. Air Force bases don’t really stock MI types. Our MI’s are usually with other branches MI’s, and they have better shit to do than try to run programs on the local population. Especially when the local population/media/corporations are so eager to display/show their patriotism to the point of irrelevancy. Maybe in a much, much larger military they could get away with that type of crap, but we’re so lean that most people are doing 3-4 people’s job, on top of theirs.
@Dan B: I would expect today’s surveillance to be a lot more online rather than actual agents sniffing around in person. I mean, what do I know. Basically nothing. But if you are actually going to track service members there is probably not a whole lot of stuff that most of us can hide that is truly 100% offline.
But that’s just a random guess on my part. And I see no reason why it would be limited to service members. To the contrary.
@Leto: Even as hard as it is, you are an inspiration.
@Avalune: @Dan B: Imagine the surprise among base leaders when it came out that you could basically map a base from people’s smart watches/fitness trackers, and that that data had been breached…
@Mike in NC: I’ve run into that too. There are some adjuncts at my school who will get on a soap box about how military members are no better than anyone else etc. I’ve seen people scream at military folks for asking whether a military discount was available.
I’m no scholar but if I had to hazard a guess, it’s sort of like how anti-war protests kind of ushered in hostility towards Vietnam Vets, our current climate of being in indefinite war has created some apathy.
There is also a feeling out there that everyone in the military is living high on the hog because of all their amazing benefits (and there are some good benefits but they have some serious limitations), so there is a little resentment built in there because people think military members are taking unfair advantage.
I’d also suspect that since war is kind of different now – it’s not go in with guns blazing and bayonet and mortars flying around or creeping through tunnels and jungle ambushes as much as shoot things from afar… people kind of feel like big deal, I can press a button. But I’m obviously just speculating.
@Leto: My nephew works for the PA National Guard. Lives near Harrisburg. Had dinner with him tonight, he was traveling for work.
@Kent: ding ding ding! The amount of training we’ve had to do regarding social media… ugh. In the old days it was, “Don’t write home about this. Don’t speak on the phone about this.” Of course I also think they had mail censors going through service member’s mail. Now it’s “DON’T POST THAT SHIT TO FACEBOOK/INSTAGRAM/TWITTER!”
Of course there’s also other ways to know when something’s going to happen. Fun story: the way the media found out we were going to launch our first Kuwait was pizza orders. Late night beat reporter hanging around DoD sees a shit ton of pizza delivery vehicles pull up to the Pentagon, briefly wonders, “WTF is going on???”, and then it dawns on him, “Oh shit, somethings going down!”
That actually happened. More than one way to shine a boot!
@Barbara: Heeeeeey! We’re practically family :)
Much like the fitness trackers, a quick google search would often provide a crapload of information we were supposed to be safeguarding like you couldn’t just google it.
I plead the fif. F I F fiiiif.
@Mike in NC: I recognize the post-Vietnam attitude and the post-9/11 attitude. Definite issues with both.
@Avalune: I can’t think of a quicker way to destroy your business or career than be outrageously nasty to some random service member. Maybe you can get away with that shit on a college campus but not in the real world. Just this very month the principal at the school where I teach lost her job simply for posting an off-color remark about Kobe Bryant on FB and then taking it down an hour later. The resulting shit storm made it all the way to the NYT and national media. The online mob was very fast and furious and the school ended up in several prolonged lockdowns due to panicked parents and other stupid shit until she resigned. This is where I work: https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2020/02/camas-high-school-principal-resigns-after-kobe-bryant-comments.html
I can’t imagine the national shitstorm that would ensue if some business owner or public employee was intentionally really nasty to some random service member and it was caught on YouTube or something.
@Omnes Omnibus: Just tell it to me straight. :-)
I wondered if you would pop into this thread.
Dylan from Port Arthur
I look forward to this series.
@Leto: It’s just funny because he called us out of the blue to have dinner. He didn’t settle down until the last five years or so of active duty, so his family has not had to cope with moving around or long deployments. He served for around 12 years. One thing his parents have commented on is the incredible demands he has faced from fellow members with depression and PTSD.
@Kent: The adjunct gets away with it because he’s not being directly nasty so much as dismissive? Also free speech, community college.
I would say in general, it does seem like a bad idea because military are vaunted a good bit and being all hoo-rah AF is = patriotism; however, I wonder since our president is so inconsistent in how he lauds the military, if we will start to see more people unafraid to attack.
@Leto: We had a half dozen people at our GI counseling service and a year later a couple dozen. We mostly lived together in one house. The first one we abandined after the next door church fell / leaned on it. The next house was very large. Across the street was a Dentists’ office. We saw two guys arrive in the AM and depart at 5 PM when another pair arrived. Never saw any patients. Turned out they were MI or FBI running a listening station.
Th resources to monitor us were enormously expensive. They knew every demonstration and every HI we counseled. It’s good to know that our paranoia about being surveiled was not just paranoia.
Almost. My current love interest project just got out of a Marine contingent that worked like an Army National Guard. Except of course because Marines they don’t call it that. I’ll have to ask him if I can get a hold of him.
I like your style.
@Leto: My son joined the PA Guard in 2011, in artillery. He’s out now but it was a good experience (and it helped with his tuition). He’s in PGH now, we’re still mired in York County and pining to move back to Maryland.
@Kent: Here you go:
New association of privatized housing companies pushing back on some reforms
Let me know when these companies, who are responsible for providing base housing since it’s been contracted out, are held responsible. Let me know when someone other than the Military Times covers this. Let me know when any other Dem candidate, save one, has a plan to fix this shit.
It’s been a proud American tradition since 1783 to shit on vets. Nothing different today.
This has been fun! Thanks everyone for the support and the interesting questions. We’ll keep monitoring the feature (via hamburgers apparently) for additional comments/questions etc between now and when the main events go live.
I’m going to be shutting down my laptop shortly, but I just want to take a minute to say thank you to Leto and Avalune for this post, and for agreeing to do the series. Too late for you guys to back out now! :-)
@Leto: My Air Force connections are through the environmental compliance programs (we write the ECAMP protocols), and I’ve been on assessments at RAF Lakenheath, Mildenhall and the late, lamented Upper Hayford in the UK. Loved them all, especially the villages and towns around Mildenhall.
Question: Did you and yours do any tours at other USAFE bases?
Acronyms: ECAMP – Environmental Compliance Assessment and Management Program; RAF – Royal Air Force; USAFE – US Air Force Europe
@Avalune: Ha! We were both typing “good night” posts at the same time.
@Barbara: Well if you’re anywhere in the Philly area, or an hour around it, we should do a meet up :)
@Dan B: Things I continue to learn. There were a lot of reforms done after Vietnam (military/CIA/intel agencies) so that’s probably why our experiences are different.
@frosty: same reason our son joined: tuition assistance! That and he wanted to strike out on his own. If we had our druthers, we’d settle down some place in Italy but that’s not really in the cards now.
@Leto: Of course they are going to shit on you guys. But they are just going to do it politely. And then thank you for your service. That’s the American way.
@Avalune: Don’t go! I just got here!
I was a Navy brat from the day I was born until the day I graduated high school. Í would say more than half my dating pool has been military of every branch except Air Force. I have way too many friends who are active duty or Guard. I have perspectives…
@phein60: RAF Croughton, UK.
We spent some time at the other RAF bases you mentioned but we were out of Croughton. Incidentally, I was instrumental in helping our Skills Development Center win best small center in USAFE. :D
Ghedi Air Base – Ghedi, Italy.
He also spent time at a number of sand bases but I’ll let him elaborate on that.
@WaterGirl: Negative – if you are outside, you hold position and render a salute until such time as the anthem ends.
@phein60: Hey! We were stationed at RAF Croughton (down the road from Upper/ 90-120 mins from Mildenhall/Lakenheath), and we were in Italy at Ghedi Air Base. Very familiar with Environmental programs as we had a lot of items that required proper control, and various safety programs I oversaw for all my people. Between the two places we were there for six and half years.
@Yutsano: No fly boys? Missing out! Or just escaping. Can go either way.
@Yutsano: I’m sticking around a bit longer. She’s the working girl that has to get up early. :P
@Ben Cisco: Yes, if I am ever on a base and the anthem sounds, I know what to do.
I had forgotten that you had served, glad to see you on the thread.
@Leto: I thought most working girls were up late?
(I did not really say that. okay, I said it but I didn’t mean it. love you Avalune)
@WaterGirl: I knew what I was saying as I typed it.
Leto 2020; I approve this comment!
Goodnight, all. Carry on!
@Kent: Mmm yes – the hypocrisy. Parade the troops and their families around when it suits your purposes but behind the curtain keep chopping away at vet’s benefits. Keep us in a permanent state of war, making broken people everywhere, and then being resentful you have so many broken people to care for… that’s part of why we get cringey when people are like WE LOVE THE TROOPS!
Do you though? When it counts? Don’t buy me a damned hamburger, go fight for mental health care, pain killer addiction, etc etc.
@Yutsano: The National Guard Bureau only has Army and Air Force components, the Air Guard Readiness Center out at Andrews AFB, and the Army National Guard Readiness Center out in Arlington with no decent parking . The Marines have Reserves, but don’t have National Guard units, just as the Navy doesn’t have National Guard units. Some states have what they call naval militias, but they aren’t funded by Congress or part of the total force. Hope this helps.
This is a great post + comments. Thanks.
Someone might have an accidental “fall” if he doesn’t quit calling me a working girl.
@WaterGirl: There is a whole bunch of shit that you do every day in the military that seems over the top. Saluting, calling people sir or ma’am, etc. The ceremony of Retreat wasn’t really a big deal.
And as far as Leto enforcing rules on it, as an NCO, that was a big part of his job. Providing an example for other troops to follow, providing gentle correction when needed, teaching new soldiers and NCOs their jobs, and making sure their officers don’t get into too much trouble and maybe learn something useful along the way – all in a days work. In my world, the saying was that NCOs are the backbone of the army.
@Avalune: I can feel the seething hatred from multiple fronts, both physical and electronic. SIMMA DOWN NOW, SIMMA DOWN!
With the kid it was quite literal at her first on base place at Lakenheath.
ETA: Sewer pipe in the ceiling broke.
@Leto: No hatred. Just a strong desire to kneecap someone.
@Omnes Omnibus: For a people who broke free of King, Queen, Europe… we sure do have all the pomp and circumstance still! ;)
@?BillinGlendaleCA: Haha, oh man! Welcome to England!
Also I’m glad that we can play this sort of, six degrees of separation between all of us. :)
Your preconceived notions are not completely right but they are not completely wrong either.
Vietnam was different than wars that came not long before it. The support for it was thin early on and got a lot thinner as things progressed and I think that was primarily because you could see the war sitting in your front room, on TV. As the tide turned against the war the TV guys were not allowed to film any longer but it was too late, everyone had seen what war looks like. From people I know who were there it was worse than what you saw on TV. Often far worse. WWII was deadlier, almost 9 times more died than in Vietnam. Some of that was that medicine had changed and helicopters could take the wounded to a hospital. Many could be saved that would have died in WWII. WWII was bigger, more served in more places but over 405,000 died in WWII, Vietnam – 53,000+ died.
The military is different for everyone in it, because the people are different. The military tries to reduce/remove the differences but it never works completely.
And thank you.
@Leto: We did ECAMPS for USAFE from 1989 through about 1996. Upper Hayford let us visit Oxford, while the Mildenhall/Lakenheath assessments (always together) let us see Cambridge. At Upper Hayford, we’d stay in this 600 year-old inn with great beer and 5 foot high showers; I have pictures somewhere. Mildenhall always saw us staying down in Newmarket, with great Indian restaurants but no conception of air conditioning.
Avalune mentioned the Skills Development Center; that is a story worth telling, as it’s the kind of thing that really gives the colour of life on military bases. Joint Base Bolling, in DC, has one of the best autobody shops I’ve ever inspected (all those generals), but that’s probably not what everyone thinks of when they think Air Force base.
@Leto: I bet you never had to serve as an escort officer for a German Prince. Being charming and presentable has a lot of drawbacks.
@Leto: Well, good to know that sone things are eternal: Base commanders blundering around surveillance is one. Fitbits mapping bases… of course. There are times when it is all too horribly effective but most times the intelligence is lacking in… intelligence. The “movie” that fits is probably ‘Spy vs. Spy’.
BTW I was at Ft. Lewis, McChord AFB, and Madigan Hospital, then at Ft. Knox. So there were a lot of resources during Vietnam since Ft. Lewis was used for jungle training.
I was drafted and spent a lifetime one year in an infantry company in Vietnam. I entered the Army as a child and came back as grumpy old man. I do not stand for the National Anthem nor pledge allegiance to the flag. I am still pissed off at my country for putting children through that meat grinder. Don’t get me wrong. I am an American but not one to succumb to mindless pomp and circumstance. And yes I love our vets and admire what they do for us and do not begrudge their choice to serve. It appears the military is a much better outfit than what I experienced
I feel the same way about Iraq and it’s coverage, especially early on when they were showing the growing insurgency and smoking HMMVs every night.
The pre-deployment videos we were shown, by the Army, about what to expect in country… yup.
J R in WV
I had a low draft lottery number in 1969, and at one point my very Republican dad told me he had friends in Canada… But came a couple weeks before the Draft board would have taken me, I enlisted in the Navy.
After boot camp and school I was sent to a Sub tender for the last diesel sub squadron in the Navy. As such, we got leftovers–but on the good side, we were in Key West from 1970 til 73. Think “McHales Navy” crossed with “Wackiest Ship in the Navy”…
I was a bosuns mate, a swabbie on deck, we handled heavy cargo with cranes, ran small boats, bragged that we were the last real sailors in a Navy full of technicians. So glad that’s nearly 50 years ago! And when someone thanks me for my service… just nope!
Yet I’m grateful for the young people now serving… go figure?
I’m going to love this series. My Dad and uncles all served in WWII. My classmates served Vietnam. I didn’t have brothers – they would have been right smack in the middle of the enlist or be drafted era. My parents didn’t have the means to pay for college for that deferment.
@phein60: I’ll definitely be touching on my work with them when we hit the work section of our post schedule – hopefully, I’ll even get to some of the funny stuff about working with my British colleagues on a primarily American base – like having to explain doggin to our base commander.
I refresh the page and it goes away.
@phein60: Croughton is 30 mins from Oxford, 20 mins from Silverstone race track. We had a number of civilians who worked for us who were previous AF members stationed at Upper. Funny thing: when Heyford closed, they moved the wing (20th TAC renamed to 20th Fighter Wing) to Shaw AFB. My first duty station. I basically began and ended my active duty career with the same people. It was a special feeling. :)
@Omnes Omnibus: Not for a German prince, no. Village officials, 3 and 4 star generals, 1 Secretary of the AF, but no princes. ;)
@Omnes Omnibus: He has not but he gets to escort a princess around every day… ba dum tiiishhhh
The chief electrician had to work on the ships degaussing system. Live. For those who might ask, a navy ship’s degaussing system counter acts the ship being marginally magnetized by everything operating inside and the ship moving through salt water. Because a magnetized ship can attracts mines rather than having to run into them. Very large coils of wire inside the hull that go all the way around the ship.
Anyway the chief somehow got across some current somewhere and was knocked at least silly and was taken to the hospital – we were in port at the time getting ready to set sail. He spent 3 days in intensive care and joined us a couple of weeks later across the Atlantic. My understanding is that he actually died and was resuscitated but that may just be scuttlebutt.
@Avalune: Wow, I teed that one up pretty well.
@Leto: I was made to go to Admiral dinners. At the age of 7. Admiral insisted. And we had to sit there. Quietly. It was the weirdest torture.
Now I know you’ve been in the military. Decades between our dates of service and some things never change.
Anthem for Doomed Youth
By Wilfred Owen
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
Thank you for your service.
@Leto: The Holt Inn was a place we stayed in twice. Seemed like most of the other guests were US Air Force on extended TDY at Upper Hayford. Nice to see the place has survived the base closure.
Acronym: TDY – temporary duty. Comes with per diem for hotel and meals, etc. Can be two days to two or more months.
@Ruckus: Oh man! I have a friend who told me similar story about an *ELF antenna out in Montana. The site pushes so much wattage that the cars in the parking lot need grounding clamps attached them. Well apparently one day, a guy forgot to do that, got off shift, went to get into his car, touched the handle, and became a human projectile. The discharged knocked him off his feet, and about 20 feet back. He survived and everyone got a good lesson/reminder that day. Also man laughs were had much later :)
*ELF is Extremely Low Frequency (3 hertz to 30 hertz). We use it for military command and control stuff.
TS (the original)
Not sure that it fits the topic, but this is how my mother felt about our home. She scrubbed the bathrooms & the floors every day when I was young & I still remember the fear of daring to walk on a still set floor.
@Yutsano: Oh man, that sounds like sheer torture… also sounds like some of the staff meetings I had to sit through… uuuggghhh ;)
@TS (the original): Haha, it fits the topic; I’m sure she would’ve made a good basic training instructor :)
One of you fancy pants with powers: maybe embed this link?
Otherwise people just have to click.
(Speaks to the anthem discussion and the That’s Not What Right Looks Like In joke)
@TS (the original): @Leto: Speaking of… I was at a meeting yesterday and the the room had a highly buffed floor – but there was one sneaker print in the middle of it. Just one.
@Omnes Omnibus: The horror!
The navy is different, most everyone’s job is to keep the ship running, in one way or another and some actually operate the weapons.
I was an E5 and senior in my department on my ship. We had billets for an E6 and E7 but never had any on board in my rate. So the 5 other guys worked for me. And it was a relatively small ship, only 300 on board, billets for 350.
@Omnes Omnibus: *Forest Whittaker eye intensifies…
@Avalune: The Army comes to attention for Retreat* and presents arms for To The Colors.**
*First bugle call at 17:00.
** Second bugle call at 17:00.
@Avalune: Since you’re probably in dreamland by now I’ll try to remember to comment at a later post.
My anecdotal experience of dislike for Vietnam vets is that the images of dead kids and wounded or dying Anerican boys was deeply disturbing. The complex feelings of shock and horror surfaced many ugly and often inappropriate actions but the anger was at the ‘distant’ generals and politicians and the returning vets were prixy targets of the distress many peoole experienced. There was also anger towards the warmongers who took away our friends and spared us, although there were plenty of vets and GI’s against the war.
The cointel-pro was also a spark fir much, but not all, of the violence. I saw quite a few white teenage girls get their heads bashed by the Chicago police. The fog of war and the fog of resisting the war. Awful.
Blaming any single cause of the chaos and injustice – naive and /or simplistic.
@Omnes Omnibus: Yeah I’d already edited the post because I’d realized it only covered retreat. I mean in fairness this video is only partially accurate anyway because no one was knocked down on the way back into the building but it still more or less gets my point across.
@J R in WV:
How low? I had already enlisted before the lottery because I could not take going home and waiting to see that letter in the mail. I’d already been 1A for over 2 yrs and figured it was just a matter of time. BTW my number was 15. For once I was right, I was going and going soon. I got to at least choose how I served. And yes I considered Canada. Just couldn’t see it.
@Dan B: Oi, yeah that’s some dark stuff and hard to know where to point it. Sorry to hear it. If I’ve learned anything about anything it’s that it’s always way more complex than black and white.
I SHOULD be in dreamland but I hate myself apparently. Going now.
Hey everyone, I’m heading off myself. I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the stuff that pops up over the course of the series. Night :)
@Leto: Speaking of torturing children our family was at a Rubber Group Banquet in Akron (father was a rubber / plastics chemist.. stop smirking) and my seven year old brother asked, during the inevitable quiet pin-drop moment, “Daddy, is this chicken made out of rubber?”
It was quiet in the hall for a nanosecond. Even the “Admirals” of industry were unable to restrain themselves.
@WaterGirl: Nothing really comes close to the reality. I think you have to go all the way back to a show called “tour of duty”, to get a little bit close to Vietnam… Especially if you’re just talking about TV. Obviously, movies do it more justice. “Tour of duty“ with this Rolling Stones theme song could not do justice to the events, but it captured some elements of the military life, broadly, in that theater.
I'll be Frank
@Avalune: depends on the unit. I trained units that I would have been confident to go to war with and units I would not have been confident to go to the mall with.
@Leto: at Long Binh, Vietnam, in 1968, the USARV band would parade past the headquarters buildings every evening for flag lowering and “to the colors“. It was an office complex. As many people stayed inside as possibly could. It was not really a chore being outside to salute the flag, but as I recall, a very significant number of uniform troops could see the band approaching its spot and they just waited.
@WaterGirl: oh please, Avalune and Leto- give us a primer on saluting! My Navy nephew would be so impressed if I could pull that off!
As many here well know, some of us can’t say anything much. But close relatives say the army is 90% coma inducing boredom and 10% electrifying trauma. Plus or minus. One says he spends his life trying to prevent his soldiers from killing themselves. Some jobs are more dangerous than others, and I live with my heart in my mouth.
@Yutsano: Another Navy Brat here. My dad was Navy Air, constant competition with Air Force. They flew similar cold war era missions.
I was born in a military hospital my dad retired when I was in college.
Actually the anti Vietnam protests were lead by the Veteran. They weren’t hostile toward the Vietnam Vets. This whole subject was investigated by a Vet and he found the stories to be unfounded. (There is a whole book on the subject.) The protests were against the political liars and jerks like Gen. Westmoreland. I went to high school very close to where the new draftees were bussed into the processing base in Oakand, CA. San Jose State had lots of Vietnam War Veterans. Remember John Kerry – war Vet opposed to the war.
Being a teenager and living on base dealing with Jarheads was not a great time. As a Navy Brat I knew so many fathers of friends and classmates who served in Vietnam. Navy air, most aboard air craft carriers or commanding supply ships for the carriers.
Now I live in an area where submariners retire. And that branch of the service is totally different that the Navy Air. Today there is more integration of the services. A relative is Navy but he works on Air Force helicopters.
I know a lot of Navy wives. And as much as things change – moving families around etc. hasn’t changed. The bullies are still being bred by some of the military nuts. More women are serving in the Navy. Uniforms have changed. Oh and often babies will identify any male in uniform as “daddy”.Much to the supreme embarrassment of the moms. When dads deploy frequently – the youngest ones get confused.
Parent’s reintegration back into the family structure is still rough after returning from long deployments. Domestic violence is still a problem in military families. There is little to no counseling for veterans as they reintegrate into civilian life. I talk to lots of Navy brats and military wives. Many of the nurses at the wound clinic are Navy wives. The military part of me is deeply ingrained. I recognize kindred souls. It isn’t an easy life. Brats don’t have a choice.
Another major change in the Navy – the number of civilian contractors. Navy Sea uses civilian ship’s captains on some ships. The wives are military/not military. Navy Air is way over on Whidbey Island. This side we have Bangor and the Ship hard as well as a Marine/Navy base – weapon testing. South of here are the Army and Air Farce* bases. So there is a Vet high concentration of military in WA state.
* I couldn’t resist. That’s the brat in me. My first breath of air was US Navy.
The Spitting Image by Jerry Lembcke (published 2000, easy to find used. I as well had hear the stories about returning soldiers being treated badly. Yet, I knew so many Vets who were a major part of the anti war movement. My cousin came up with a sad, negative story of returning state side. But I knew how the military musters out servicemen and where the returning Vietnam planes landed – his story sounded like a false memory. This book exposed a lot of the myths.
@Avalune: You should have gone for Queen.
@I’ll be Frank: Oh man – yes 100% the best and the brightest!
@Barb 2: 15 Jan 1968. San Francisco International Airport. I was back that very day from Vietnam. Processed at Travis AFB, bussed (the lot of us) to the airport to disperse on leave or to new assignments. I was spat upon by a young man. There is no documentation. But no one should ever suggest for a moment that it never happened; it happened a lot.
@Baud: And while we’re at it, is there a Salvation Navy?