21. January 2007 · Comments Off on Why I joined the Air Force · Categories: Air Force, Memoir, Military, Pajama Game

I originally posted this on DragonLady’s World, but have updated it some for readability, and a thing or two I just left out of the original.

I can’t write about why I got out without first talking about why I joined. There were many reasons for both. During my last undergrad course (the internship), I was looking for a post graduation job. The box factory was fine for summer work, but I didn’t spend 6 ½ years getting a 4 year degree to stack and pack boxes. My professor put me in touch with a former student who worked at the Frigidaire factory. The company was looking to fill a position working with her, as she was a single point of failure type of job. By that, I mean she was the only one who could do what she did, and if something were to happen to her, they would be hosed. I was called back for a second interview as they had narrowed the applicants down to me and one other person. Then the company decided not to fill the position.

I was bummed. I started hitting the temporary agencies to get something while I started a new search. By this time, I had my B.S., and was not looking forward to more factory work. (My degree is in Industrial Technology with a Manufacturing concentration.) This was the point that every recruiting commercial I had ever seen flashed through my head. I decided to join the Guard. I talked to Army vet hubby first. He told me that I would be happier with active duty than Guard, and to join the Air Force, not the Army because “the Air Force will take care of you.” So, I called the recruiter, and he processed me both as enlisted and officer. I was joining no matter what, and as it turned out, OTS board results would not come out until after I was scheduled for basic training. My enlisted job was guaranteed, and rather than risk losing my guaranteed job (which I methodically picked primarily because it looked fun and easy and “combat” wasn’t in the title or description), I chose to enlist rather than wait for OTS board results.

I had thought about joining the Guard in high school. My parents always spoke about the military with great respect, and built up this honorable entity for me regarding the US military. Now, of my mom’s six brothers, five were in the military: two Marines, one regular Army (he was drafted during Vietnam), and two National Guard. Of my dad and his three brothers, only two were in the military that I know of. Uncle Lawrence tried to enlist in the Army, but they didn’t want him because he didn’t finish high school. He was drafted after Pearl Harbor, and volunteered for the Army Air Corps, mainly because he thought the LT who told them about it was full of it. He said by the end of the day, he was on a train headed for FL for Air Corps training. My dad volunteered after Pearl Harbor, but the Army wouldn’t take him because he was missing two fingers on his left hand, and they considered him handicapped. Then they tried drafting him four or 5 times. He said he almost made it through the physical exam once without anyone noticing his hand. He was at the last station, and was a signature away from making it when the doc noticed. He finally moved to Alabama and joined the state militia there (which eventually became the National Guard) for the rest of the war. I also had several cousins on both sides of the family who served in the military. Anyway, I mentioned joining the Guard in front of a friend’s dad back in high school. By the time he got finished describing his experience at Ft Polk, I had changed my mind, which was his intention.

Now, that all makes it sound like I joined just to have a job, but with patriotic or family history leanings. Both are true, but not the only reasons. The hubby and I were not in a very good place in our lives, and really needed to get away. Also, neither of us had any kind of health insurance, and I knew we would eventually want to have kids. Both kids were born during my first assignment. I got to “see the world,” though Kuwait was not on my list of places I wanted to see. I got the GI Bill that is helping pay for graduate school. Most importantly, I finally got some much needed self-discipline.

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