USAF - retired (1968 - 1988) - 20 years, two weeks, one day and six hours (but who counted!) Had three 7-levels in those years (Liquid Oxygen Production, P.O.L, and then the last half of my time in Public Affairs.) I still remember my first day of basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, -- Drill Instructor TSgt. Denton, if you're out there, God bless you! Here is something I want to share with everyone (that us military folks have learned, felt and survived.) Three phrases that will mold who you become for the rest of your life:
1. Fear (understand everyone will deal with it somewhere along the line)
2. Fear Less ( What happens as you grow and test yourself, or are tested by someone or something else)
3. Fearless (what you become because you were not afraid to conquer your fears)
My first day of active duty, Jan. 16, 1968, was also the first day of the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam -- and my mom was scared (you know what). She had lost a brother in France during WW II (three Purple Hearts in as many days in the Ardennes Forest trying to take Metz back before he was killed.) She thought I would end up the same.
I am so very gratified that so many Americans are supportive of what the military person is dealing with today -- back in the late sixties, it was not a nice place for the military in our country -- it was the only place I was ever spit on while in uniform. Maybe you might not remember the black arm bands being worn by demonstrators, but I do. I also remember my first year of active duty I was placed on an Honor Guard (read: burial detail) and having carried a man who fought in the Spanish-American War to his final resting place. The only family he had was the funeral home director and my Honor Guard group. I can still see him, and it still stirs the same emotions in me when I think we were the only ones left to honor him -- but we did honor him. Did the Vietnam years leave scars - yes, but what makes up for it is knowing that our military members are being thought of well, now. Please keep doing so. You have no idea the positive impact it has on those who wear the uniform of their country.
Terry Shay, TSgt, USAF (ret)
Also an honorary 82nd Airborne Division member - given my coin by Command Sergeant Major of the 82nd back in 1986., honorary Air Force Combat Control Team member (coin) , and also the same with the guys from "D" (coin).
God Bless America and all who protect her.