posted by Joe Anaya on November 11th, 2013

Seeing how it’s Veteran’s Day, I thought I’d spend a little time writing about some of the veteran’s I’ve known.

First, of course, is my dad. He was a wild youth and his older brothers, who had just returned from WWII, convinced their mom (my grandmother) that what he needed was some military discipline. So, at 16, he signed up for the US Army. He was enlisted during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and spent time in Germany and Japan (where he met my mother).

There’s a picture of my dad at a field re-enlistment ceremony in Vietnam. I had known that he was in Vietnam but never really, fully absorbed what that meant until I saw the picture of my father, right hand raised swearing an oath, in a trench, near a grass hut, surrounded by jungle. He was in freaking Vietnam! I once asked him if he had ever killed anybody. He looked shocked, and explained that he was a scout. His job was to sneak in, gather information, then sneak out. If he ever had to use his gun, that meant his mission had gone horribly wrong.

His older brother, my uncle, once spent two hours telling me all kinds of details about his time in Europe during WWII. I heard about his boot camp in the paratroopers, his march to Berlin, and their never-spoken-of policy of taking no prisoners. Later his daughter told me that she had never heard him talk about his war years. They had asked but he never wanted to talk about it. Something from that day was right for him to let it all out.

I worked with another veteran; we called Spoony. He was a young guy who had just gotten out of the army after a few years. He was always imitating his drill sergeant. My favorites were, “Drop and give me 20.” This was used whenever anyone made a mistake, misspoke, or just disagreed with Spoony. The other was, “Not now. RIGHT now!” This one never failed to make me laugh. When some unsuspecting person would unwittingly set him up by using the word “now” in a sentence, any context, it didn’t matter. It was like a Pavlovian response for Spoony.

I’ve known others. My sister-in-law was an Army nurse. She said the TV series MASH reminded her of her enlisted days. One of my wife’s friends was a reservist in Iraq. He has a hilarious story about detonating confiscated explosives while in the showers. I have a few high school friends that served in the Navy. I just recently found out that my friend’s wife served in the Army.

Apparently, veterans are everywhere. Even people you wouldn’t expect, you just have to ask around. When you find one, thank them for their service, maybe even take them out for a cup of coffee. You might hear a few good stories from a thankful vet.

Reposted from 11/12/12

File Under Jack of all Trades