In the spring of 1979 a skinny red headed 17 yr old raised his right hand and solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; That was, what? 36 years ago? Holy crap. It seems like just yesterday I was standing there reciting the oath and wondering just what I was getting myself into. Turns out it was best decision of my life. fast forward to December 2014 and there was my son, number one son, taking the same oath and joining my same unit. Full circle, I couldn’t be prouder.
Connor joined my old Minnesota National Guard and got a Black Hawk Crew Chief slot. His plan is to go to basic right after graduating high school this spring, come back and start college, possibly playing football but he’s not sure he wants to risk getting hurt, then attend the 15 week Black Hawk school next winter. As soon as he gets back to his unit he will start boarding for a flight school slot. Connor will have his private pilot’s license by then, if not his helicopter rating, and I’ve been assured that unless he does something really stupid between now and then he is almost assured a slot in flight school. After graduating college he plans to join the active duty Army and transition from Black Hawks to flying the Apache. I’m not really sure how difficult it is to get into the Apache but if anyone can do it Connor can. Once he fulfills his commitment to the Army he plans to join the Coast Guard as a helicopter pilot or get a job as a medivac pilot. These are some pretty big and detailed plans for an 18year old and I’m sure a lot can and will change between now and then but at least he has a goal, which is a whole hell of a lot more than I had at his age. Until he attends basic training he will spend his weekend drills in a holding unit with other un-trained soldiers learning how to stand at attention, tie his boots, wear a hat, and not call enlisted men sir, “We’re not in the Marines, Private!” They supposedly will conduct some actual training but if I know the Army, and I do, I’m sure there will be a lot of wasted time.
When Connor came back from his first drill weekend he told us that he’s loved every minute of it, I was pretty sure he would but it was still a relief. His only complaint was when he was informed that if a Sergent was making fun of him all he had to do was tell him to stop and he would have to………seriously. What the hell. Connor was disgusted with the emphasis the Army was putting on diversity and anti-bullying. ” I suppose if the enemy is shooting at you and hurting your feelings you can just ask them to stop and will have to” Connor said. He’d grown up listening to me and my old Army buddies at deer hunting camp telling (mostly true) stories about how tough basic training and epically the drill instructors were. When I went to basic they were still allowed to hit us, in the snow, uphill, both ways. Connor was actually looking forward seeing if he was a tough as his old man but it sounds like they’ve turned basic into some kind of summer camp. Although having to sit through 10 different lectures on sexual harassment is its own kind of hell so maybe it’s a wash.