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Archive for June, 2009

Navy Days

boysI have been thinking a lot about my Navy Days lately. Not sure why…maybe there is no reason why…maybe it’s because it was such a significant part of my life and one can not help but think back on those times. One day I will probably sit down and write about those days…not the extremely edited version I gave to my class, but the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I already have a title for it when it ever happens…”Serving in a Time of Peace.”  Sounds like a New York Times bestseller, right? I mean I bet people would clammer to read about some Navy idiot who spent four years attacking and being a jackass. For me though it seems to play a significant role especially in the vast amounts of military historiography that is out there today.

Today’s generation knows nothing but war. We are reminded of it constantly, and because of this I think that this generation and future generations will have a complete misunderstanding or no understanding at all of what it was or is like to serve in the military when there was no war and no real threat of war. I served from 1996-2000. Think about that.  What did we have then? Bosnia/Kosovo? Not even a real war (at least for Americans…I’m sure the Serbs would disagree).  Sure Saddam shot some SAM’s at jet’s patroling the No-Fly Zone (yes Democrats…it is a FACT that Iraq actually did attack the United States military). Each time it happened I will admit there was a part of me that hoped that some how and some way it would turn into something a bit bigger, but alas…it never did…until 2003 that is, but by then I was wrapping up my liberal arts degree and transfering to a four year college.

I did the rough math. The United States Navy spent roughly $85,000 to train me for war. I went through countless schools, training ops, and so many more refresher courses through-out those four years I was in, only to walk away without ever really using it. Oh sure there were a couple of times that I was able to put some of those skills to work for me (especially that bar fight in Ecuador with the Canadian Navy…but c’mon, it was the CANADIAN NAVY!!!), but truth, the Navy sort of wasted their money on me. Sure they had another body to fill a position, but the sad truth of it is hard earned tax money went to not. Sorry American tax payer…but thanks for the drunken memories!!! Not only that…get this…I paid $1200 ($100 a month for 12 months) and in return got three years of my education paid for. Not a bad investment on my part…of course being an E-1 at the time and having $100 pulled from my pay check sucked ass, but man did it pay off.

I sort of feel sorry for the people that are serving now. When you think about it, some of those kids filled the spot I left vacant when I got out. When I got out in April 2000, some poor kid stepped into my spot, and a year later 9/11 happens and that kids role suddenly became a hell of a lot different than my role in that spot. And every subsequent kid that fills that spot until the two wars America is currently involved in are over will have a vastly different Navy experience than I had. It’s strange when you think of one’s military service in those terms. I cost the military $85,000 and theygot shit all of an investment out of me. Sure I spent four years playing to role I signed up to play, but when one looks at the kid’s who have filled my spot since I left…my Navy experience is really pretty much a Kerouac themed “On The Water (Road)” novel of traveling and getting drunk. Not to suggest that those kids that have filled my spot don’t have their drunken tales to tell, but those tells are intermixed with deployments, war, battle, and I’m sure…death. Sure those kids could very well end up like the future me and write their stories, but theirs would surely fall into that before mentioned military histiography, whereas mine would be nestled next to Kerouac and Klostermann (“Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs”)…just in the “S” section.

I once told my brother I was thinking about writing my Navy story. I even mentioned my title to him. Little background here. My brother is in the Marines, served in Iraq and is heading to Afghanistan in a few months. His exact words were “Who the fuck would want to read that? War stories, Bro…that is where the money is.” He is probably right. I mean looking at my own library (I’m a BA and MA holding historian) it is filled with military history…and not one of them is about some jackass who served in a time of peace…the closest one is Tony Swofford’s “Jarhead” and even that is set during the Gulf War. Whereas a lean, mean Jake Gyll…what the fuck ever his name is, played Swofford, who would play Jason Simmers in “Serving in a Time of Peace” the theatrical version? A slimmed down Jack Black? Seth Rogen? Niether actually, the actor would atleast have to look Scotch/Irish. Actually, a cursory Google search of Scotch/Irish Actors gave me Matthew McConaughey…not bad…he’d just have to work harder on his drunkeness, and make believe it’s not as easy for him to pick up chicks. Actually, when I think about it, it would work. Ego is not at work here.

I will one day write that story, but sor now I will let those Navy Days come and go through the maze that is my memory. I will remember them fondly, and, given the perspective of when I served…thankfully.

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