It was not long after my son graduated from high school that he enlisted in the Army. He had quietly visited with an Army recruiter and was convinced that joining the military was the answer to all his wants and needs.
"Dad, the Army will pay for my College. This way I can go to school and I won't be a financial burden to you or mom."
"Are you sure that you'll have enough money for school?" I asked.
"Yes dad," answered my son. "The Montgomery G.I. Bill will pay for most of it, and the Army will also set up a special education savings account for me. While I'm doing my active duty, I will also be able to take college courses free of charge."
My son's face split into a wide grin. "I can also learn a trade in the Army. The Army will guarantee my being admitted to a tech school. I'm enlisting for 4 years, and there is a good chance that I will be able to get into Special Forces. Dad, it's a deal of a lifetime."
Such a deal.
I had some misgivings, but my son seemed determined to enlist.
I remember Tim being sworn in at the Portland Army Recruiting Center. We had my friend LTC Harry Price administer the oath, to our son and all at once our little boy became a soldier.
Tim plunged head long into Basic training. Nothing was too hard for him, and he was determined to excel at everything.
He went Airborne, then to Ranger School. The harder the task the greater the challenge, the better it was for him.
Tim and I both expected that he would be traveling all over the world. Not so, all of his assignments were here, in the Continental US, fighting fires, doing drug interdiction or working with the US Border patrol. Like most Army stuff, it involved moments of excitement punctuated by long periods of intense boredom.
Four years flew by and Tim decided that it was time for him to become a civilian and take advantage of his military G.I. benefits.
My civilian son enrolled in college and commented with a smirk: "Oh dad, by the way, I've just enlisted in the National Guard. They'll also help me with my college expenses."
"Sweet," said I, "just what you need."
"I'm gon'na need some extra money;" grinned my kid, "'cause I plan to get married."
Things just seemed to happen really fast. He married, got his wife pregnant, bought a house, and shortly after 9-11, found himself recalled to active duty.
His home had just cleared escrow, when he received his deployment orders.
Tim was gone for 18 months. He returned home and two years later was again dispatched to Iraq. This time, he only had to spend 12 months overseas before he was allowed to return to his family and another new baby. Tim was home less than a month from his second tour, when he was presented with orders to go to New Orleans to help with hurricane Katrina.
A few months later, he was back home and life became almost normal.
Not long ago, my daughter in law, invited my wife and I over for a Sunday afternoon barbeque. We got to play with the grand kids and enjoy our family.
"Oh by the way," mentioned my son. "I have to leave for Ft. Hood tomorrow, I'm being deployed to Afghanistan."
Our Jaws dropped.
"National Guard, I thought you belonged to the State?" queried his mother.
"The President is still our Commander in Chief. I knew what I was getting into when I first enlisted. My country needs me and it's my duty to serve."
I interjected: "How about our having your mother write you an excuse? I'm sure that the Army would listen to your mother."
My son laughed. "It used to work when I was in grade school, but I'm afraid it won't hold much weight now. I'm needed; our nation needs me."
My son is leaving for another deployment. I am proud of him and I pray that he will stay safe. We are praying, not just for our son, but also for all the other sons and daughters who will be serving our country. God protect them, and help them make our world a safer place for all.
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