Why did you Join?
Okay, I admit it. I'm surprised. The majority of you who took the poll at the end
of last week's article, think that after 17 years of the All Volunteer Force, the United States WILL start up a
draft again to fill the sagging recruitment slots. When I designed the poll, I personally thought that would be
the least chosen answer.
I joined the Air Force in 1975, right after the draft ended. The other day, while
talking to a reporter about why kids join the military, he asked me why I had joined? You want to know something?
I really didn't have a good answer.
At the age of 10, my very best friend in the world, and I decided to join the Air
Force when we grew up and become pilots. We made a secret/solemn/unbreakable oath with each other, as 10 year olds
often do. A year later, my family moved 1200 miles away to Nebraska, and my contact with Johnny was limited to
Xmas cards once a year (Kids don't write each other).
For some reason, through the years, neither one of us changed our minds. When someone
would ask what we wanted to do when we grew up, each of us, thousands of miles away from each other, would answer,
"Join the Air Force!." We really didn't know anything about the Air Force, nor any other aspect of the
military -- however, this is what we had "promised" to do, so this was what we "wanted" to
A month after I graduated high school, I met Johnny at the Greyhound bus station,
and the next day we went to the Air Force recruiter's office.
It took awhile for Technical Sergeant Manning to convince us that we couldn't be
pilots unless we went to college first. As neither of us had the means or desire for additional education (most
of what they had tried to cram in during the previous four years, didn't stick too well), we decided to try a different
Air Force job, instead. TSgt Manning gave us some pamphlets to read, and told us to come back when we had an idea
about what we wanted to do.
Of course, we didn't read the pamphlets, but we discussed what "jobs"
we would like, all night long.
The next day, we returned to the recruiter's office, and I told TSgt Manning that
I'd like to be a spy. I'll give him credit. He didn't laugh at me. He took the time to explain to me that Air Force
Intelligence probably wasn't exactly the kind of trench coat, cloak & dagger stuff that I might think it is.
He told me that real intelligence work involved a lot of desk-work and study. Study???????? No way! I've already
had four years of that. Been there. Done that. Didn't like it at all.
By this time, Johnny had already decided that he wanted to be an aircraft mechanic,
but that held no interest to me. TSgt Manning told me to think about it some more, and this time to read the pamphlets
he had given me. That night, Johnny and I read the pamphlets while watching a re-run of Adam - 12. ("One-Adam-Twelve,
One-Adam-Twelve, a four-fifteen fight, with chains and knives....One-Adam-Twelve, handle code three.") That's
it! I'll be an Air Force cop!
When I told TSgt Manning, I could see he wasn't happy. He told me that he already
had his quota of "law enforcement," but had "Security Police" slots open. "But,"
he said to me, "I don't think you'd be happy as an SP. It's not like 'Adam - 12.' Air Force SPs spend a lot
of time guarding things that no one wants to steal, anyway."
After another week or so of indecisiveness, where I chose about a dozen more "kewl"
jobs, we finally decided on an Aircrew Life Support Technician -- and, I thank TSgt Manning to this day. The career
field suited me perfectly, until I matured enough to move over into the First Sergeant career.
So! Why did you join the military? Let us know by participating in the poll, below!
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