Skytroopers
Vietnam Tour Of Duty
Delta Comapany, 2nd Bn, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division Airmobile
Greetings You are hereby ordered to report for induction into the ARMED FORCES of the UNITED STATES

CALL TO ARMS! MICHIGAN THE GREAT LAKES STATE 1969

Life was good for this 19 year old! Or at least, it sure seemed that it should be. With my high school diploma in hand I had applied for a job and was hired. I had a girlfriend that just might be the one for me, and my first car, that would be paid for with my own money, earned from my new full time job. It appeared that this was a great start toward the formation of my early adult life. Finally, the beginning of seeing who I might become on my journey toward becoming an adult, becoming a man, and hopefully, a success. 

There only seemed to be one possible major problem. One that had been haunting me since I was 15 years old and could see anytime on the nightly news on television or in the newspapers. The Vietnam War, and the chance of being drafted. After all, I had to report for the armed forces physical examination on April 23, 1969, which meant I had been 19 years old for only 3 months.

 
Was it our turn now, to fight back communist aggression? Just as our parents had done before us, just like we were to see in the movies based on WWII with John Wayne, the heroic deeds of Audie Murphy, the old news reels of historic battles played before the feature movie at the local theater, the television shows, "Combat", The Gallant Men", and "The Twentieth Century" with actual military films about the war. It was a time to be patriotic and for us children, the baby boomer generation, to be in awe of our people in the military and what they had accomplished. We would often play army games and dream of the glory of the heroic soldier coming home to cheering crowds of admirers. 


This was also the height of the Cold War and we were wary of the Communists and their plans for world conquest. Who hadn't seen Kruschev pounding his shoe on a podium and yelling, "We will bury you!!" I don't think anyone could forget the tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis and wondering if a nuclear war would be our ending. I'm sure this helped to obscure our vision of the history of failure of countries who had previously tried to overcome communism in Vietnam. 


I wasn't the only teenager with that concern, but I had a right to be worried about what could happen. I didn't have the money to go to college and get a deferment and I wasn't going to betray my country by going to Canada. If I dodged the draft it would mean someone else would have to go in my place and I couldn't live with that. I didn't want to enlist in the Air Force or Navy because of the 4 year enlistments and even though the 2 year enlistments of the Marines and Army looked better, it was almost certainly a ticket straight to Vietnam



By 1969 it was clear the war was deeply dividing the country and it looked like we may have gotten into a war that was dragging us down into a political and military quagmire that would continue indefinitely. But the United States was so deeply committed that anything short of an outright victory or truce would become a slow withdrawal from South Vietnam. That would mean even as we would try to pull out American soldiers, that some would still have to go. 

The arrival of my draft notice made it all to clear that the worst had happened. Only the week before I had proposed to my girlfriend and now had to tell her I had been drafted. There wasn't a lot of time before I would have to report to the local draft board. 

I had planned on a long engagement but now we were trying to decide if it would be better to get married before I went into the Army or wait until after finding out what kind of duty I might be assigned and getting married later. Linda and I would have many discussions about this and we finally decided to get married before I reported for duty. 


We had a nice, small wedding, with just family members attending and we would only have 9 days as man and wife before I left for the Army. Our families had rented us a cottage on Crystal Lake, which was great, and allowed us to have a very nice place to be alone. We were like kids, trying to forget what was facing us, and just doing all we could to have fun and have a wonderful honeymoon. All too quickly though, the day arrived when I had to go to a local church to report as ordered for my entry into the Army. 


We tried to keep busy that morning and have fun doing anything, no matter how silly or ridiculous it may have seemed. It was better than thinking about having to separate so soon and what could possibly happen. The morning seemed like it passed by in a flash and we were at the church where I was herded together with others who were being inducted into the military and we started our initial processing. 


Afterward there was a brief time to spend with Linda and my parents. Then I and the other young draftees were ordered to board the bus. I tried my best to be brave and not cry but tears were streaming down my face as I kissed Linda, my new wife, goodbye. She was trying her best to stay in control but she was crying and ran for home after the final wave goodbye as the bus started to move away. We would be going to Detroit for our physical and to be sworn in to the military service. Final destination, Fort Knox, Kentucky.
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Prussia, Michigan 12/5/2014
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