The First Line of Defense: Military Recruiters – Tell one (or more) Thank You

December 16th, 2010 by xformed

This is a multi-purpose post:

First up – a suggestion of how you can provide a very meaningful “Thank You!” in this season (or actually any time at all). While you may live far from a significant military presence, you most likely don’t live far from the local US Military Recruiting Office in your neck of the woods. Staffed with service members, if you have wanted to say “Thank you” to someone in uniform, there’s your sign. Next time you’re driving by, take a few minutes to stop in and shake hand or two.

Why? These men and women are the ones who get us men like SSGT Guinta and SGT J.D. Williams and so many others, who’s names we’ve read and those most all of us will never hear the names of, but know it took them all to defend the Nation. It’s the recruiters are the ones who either go out and find them to talk to, or have to assess them as they walk in to volunteer.

The eye for the ones who fit the specs, and the ones who do not. It’s the recruiters who do it. They do it not in a combat zone, but they do it with tremendous pressure to meet quotas, to make sure they check these men and women out, provide career counseling and work with the community, the parents and a number of others. They can’t “work” as well during what the civilian world calls “working hours,” they have to catch them when they can: After school, on weekends, in the evening, and they still have to keep “office hours,” too. Read: Many hours to perform their assignments. Reports, follow up, get them to physicals, paperwork for security checks, get them on the transport to the first assignment in the service of the Country. Then, they get to spend some “shore duty” (the Navy version) time with their families.

And don’t forget some people make it difficult, and occasionally impossible to meet those who might be willing to hear about the opportunity for them.

In addition to just “doing their job,” more than likely they will be in dress uniforms much of the time, and they (as far as I know) don’t get extra funding to maintain them, with the extra wear and tear and spaghetti sauce stains, etc that have probably resulted in unplanned purchases as a result. No doubt the many more miles put on their own vehicles is a cost they also bear accomplishing the mission.

Secondly: As an officer, I had more interaction with discipline cases along my time in service, and, for the “repeat offenders” we’d usually flip their service record open to the “Page 2” (Enlistment Contract) and look for the date of the signature of the person in question. While not in every case, when the date was the 30th or 31st of the month, we’d manage to vocalize how some lazy recruiter just grabbed whoever off the street “to make quota.” While it was easy to use that as a issue to vent over, more often as not, it certainly wasn’t the case. Not to mention I’ll admit, I never pulled the records for my great sailors and look at the same data point, and neither did I then allow myself to vocalize so sharp sailor in some community somewhere had done an outstanding job finding those men and women who were exemplary serve personnel. Fair’s fair, so I’ll have to make that acknowledgment now, late as it is.

Bottom line: Wars are fought with expensive hardware, cool planes, and massive amounts of ammo, fuel food and parts, but it is the man or women handling or using those things who defend the Nation. The recruiters who find them are the scouts to get them into uniform and they deserve special recognition for faithfully executing the duties of those assignments.

When you thank one, please let them know you know they are the ones who get us the protectors, and you appreciate the effort that takes them.

Now, google up the all the recruiting offices in your area and see if you can brighten a day in those places.

Category: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Leadership, Marines, Military, Navy, Public Service, Supporting the Troops | 1 Comment »

Iwo Jima Survivors

February 20th, 2010 by xformed

Navy
Image via Wikipedia

He walked slowly through the tables, as I stood to gather my backpack full of stuff and leave.  An older gentleman, wearing a blue ball cap bearing the title of this post’s title.  As I stepped into the room, rather than to the door, my two friends, neither of them vets, looked quizzically at me, but I kept moving, standing a respectful few feet, while he reached for the chair back, indicating he was at the table of his choosing, I stepped up and asked to shake his hand and thank him.  He smiled and allowed me to do so.

Making the basic assumption that he was one of the few and the Proud, but not set on it, I asked what he had done there.  He said “Amphibs.  I took the Marines ashore.”  About this time, another gentleman, also elderly arrived beside us and reached out to shake the first man’s hand and said with a smile on his face, not to large, but more of a knowing one.  He said “5th Marines.”

So there I was, thanking one man for his service at that difficult battle, and I managed to be able to thank two of them.

From the USS BOSTON (CA-69) Blog (click to get there)

We chatted for a few moments.  He had joined the Navy in 1940, was assigned to a destroyer (I missed the name), was a radioman and had been in the Battle of Midway, screening the USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), and later commissioned USS BOSTON (CA-69).  What ever his assignment was in 1945, he took that Marines ashore as said “I was on Red Beach.”  I handed him my card as I told him a week from today, the old war horses would gather for breakfast and to talk and enjoy each other’s company, and I’d be happy to give him a lift (he doesn’t drive any longer).  He rattled off a list of the campaigns he had been in and they were the many big ones.  He did his time all in the Pacific, all on sea duty, all in the fight.  He mentioned, but only in one sentence, that he spent 20 some years in the Air Force.

I then asked if the lady sitting at the far end of the table was his wife, and he said yes, of 56 years, proudly told me.  He then added a story of how he bought her engagement ring in Pearl Harbor, and then carried it in his shirt pocket, in case the ship sank, until he could mail it home to his mother.  It took two months to get there, and his mom slipped it on his then fiancee’s finger, I believe he said at Christmas, and they were married in 1946.  I went over and thanked her for sharing him with me so patiently and let her, and his daughter know about this coming Saturday.  His daughter, whom he pointed out had been an Air Force Nurse, said, “Dad, I think you’d really enjoy that.”  I made sure she had my card, too.

And, in doing a little homework for links here, I found, via the USS BOSTON Blog mentioned above, that a son of one of the Plank Owners, William Kelly, a Signalman, wrote a book based on their Father’s story:  “A Bird’s Eye View.”

We’ll see….oh, and that night, I met a 21 year Army Vet, a Green Beret, who flared up when I mentioned Khe Shan, commenting how they didn’t believe the Special Forces Camp really had tanks in the wire…..

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Category: "Sea Stories", Air Force, History, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | 2 Comments »

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