Saturday, January 12, 2008

Happy Mock Retirement To Me!!!

Today was indeed a very surreal day for me.

Had I stayed in the Army, today would have been my retirement. Yes, indeed, it was 20 years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play….no, wait…it was 20 years ago today that I began my basic combat training for the United States Army. Eighteen weeks later I was a newly-minted Military Policeman. Thusly, had I stayed in for a full career, I would have been eligible to retire today with full pension and benefits at the ripe old age of 38.

After Basic and MP School at Fort McClellan, Alabama, I was shipped to Germany to serve as a Senior Military Customs Inspector with the 285th Military Police Company, part of the 42d Military Police Group. I was in Germany from June 1988 to June of 1990, when I transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas and the US Army Correctional Brigade, where I served as a Patrol Supervisor and Fire Team Leader. Germany was great, but Riley sucked. I disliked it so much that it prompted me to not seek re-enlistment, and I left my brothers in arms behind in January, 1992.

I only served four years on active duty, but I had a great time over all. Most days I think back on my service fondly, and I often wonder what it would have been like had I stayed in. I’d probably be a Sergeant First Class, or maybe even a company First Sergeant. Had I followed the urgings of my unit commander and executive officer in Basic and gone to West Point like they asked me to, I might have been a senior Major by now and pondering staying in longer to try and make Lieutenant Colonel. Or I might not even be here. Right after I got out, three guys from a sister unit of mine were killed by a roadside bomb in Somalia, and casualties among MP’s have been pretty high in Iraq. Who’s to say that I’d even still be here today to retire had I stayed in?

I try not to dwell on those might-have-been situations, since the point is moot; I can’t change history.

However, I do take solace in the fact that I served, and served proudly and with distinction. I also am very happy to still be in touch with some of my Army buddies. Steve and Mike I knew from Kansas, Rick and Ray were with me in Germany, and DJ, well, me and DJ have known each other since Day One. Our bunks were about 20 feet apart from each other’s in Basic, and though we haven’t actually seen each other since May of 1988 when we graduated from MP School, we still touch base weekly.

I feel a little strange saying that I’m now old enough to have retired from my first adult job. I think I’ll treat myself to a Twinkie with a candle in it and have a mock party on my mock retirement. And…no laughing at my boot camp photo!!!

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