Monday, November 05, 2007

my military history...

Seven years ago, I was a private. I was the second lowest rank one could be in the military. There are some things that stick out in my mind as being formative and some people who I will never forget. I will never forget MAJ Outzen, my first CO. He was the first officer I respected and really thought the world of. In my mind, he was as smart as I could hope to, stronger than I would ever be and could basically leap tall buildings in a single bound.

More important than MAJ Outzen, however, were the soldiers, sailors and Marines I had the chance to serve with at DLI. Sure, it was TRADOC (training) and basically school, but we were all young and impressionable and new to the military. We had daily shoe/boot shining contests that Qa'ed, our class leader, would judge (he was a Warrant Officer and thus, the highest ranking, so we figured he would be a good judge). We drank together, studied together and otherwise made each other better people. One, in particular, was my friend Nubia. She was in the Navy and one of those people who really took to the Military. For some of us, such as myself, the Military is a bit of a forced fit. I do well because I have to and want to, but it does not by any means come naturally. For Nubia, when she put on the uniform, it was as though something had been missing her whole life and she was now complete.

I, being in the Army, never understood Naval rank or uniforms. We had an instructor who as a higher ranking Naval Non-Commissioned Officer and thus wore a different uniform than Nubia did (I know it's confusing, but unless you're in the Navy, you'll never understand what they wear or's foreign). Nubia laughed a condescending laugh and explained to me that because of her rank, she'd never wear that uniform.

I kept in poor touch with most, and Nubia was no exception. I talked to her tonight, however, for the first time in about seven months to find out she has since gotten married and also got picked up to commission as a Naval Officer. She will soon be Ensign Betancourt. She told me she remembered me asking about her uniform and realized that she will soon wear the brown uniform of the Naval Officer (it is brown right?). We laughed and realized how long it's years...since we joined the military, and how much we've both grown and changed. Now, seven years later, we're both going to be leaders-her in the Navy and me in the Army. Like children who have grown up to be parents, we will now be in charge of the Soldiers and Sailors we once were.


Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

If I were going into the military, I would want to end up serving under someone like yourself, because you know what it is like to be the lowest-ranking individual. I would think that is a tremendous advantage for you as an officer now.

Are there a lot of people who go to West Point or ROTC directly from being enlisted personnel? I would guess that you would be sought-after, because you all know what you are getting into and would be less likely to quit abruptly.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

When I was at WP, the numbers were pretty small...a couple of dozen per class. ROTC has a much higher ratio and OCS has an even higher ratio of prior service. When I left WP, the plebe class (2010) had a very large prior service group with a lot of distinguished service. I know one kid had a purple heart, which beat the pants off my time at DLI.

7:16 PM  
Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

I think that would have been an interesting experience, giving orders as a WP cadet to a younger cadet who had been in combat. I once discovered that one of the senior citizen auditors in my World War II class had been one of the first guys to parachute into Normandy on June 6--and been awarded the Silver Star for tending a wounded paratrooper under fire. I had to laugh at me telling him about HIS war, something he had experienced viscerally and directly--I should've turned the class over to him!

8:56 AM  

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