It was 40 years ago this week, it has occurred to me, that I was transferred from basic training in Fort Bragg, North Carolina to advanced infantry training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, which was known at that time as "Little Vietnam" because of its jungle-warfare training. I was a two-year Army draftee, it was 1968, the height of the Vietnam War, and, when you received orders for Fort Polk, you might as well start taking your malaria pills because it meant that at the end of eight weeks of learning how to kill, you'd be on your way to Vietnam.
I didn't go to Vietnam, as it turned out. At the end of the eight weeks, our graduating week was sent to Germany instead (unheard of for Folk Polk grads), thanks to the August 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Russians (What a party we had when we got those orders -- the heck with the poor Czechs!). So we headed to West Germany with our jungle training. We had spent a miserably hot summer surrounded by swamps and bugs and armadillos in backwoods Louisiana, a state that I'll never go back to, but oh who cares. We had been spared.
Vietnam was, of course, a war where we, the U.S., didn't belong, and now we are stuck in a war in Iraq that never should have been. Vietnam was miserable duty for those who served there, and Iraq is awful duty for those who are there. The best thing we could do to support those troops is to bring them home from where they shouldn't be (Take note, Senator Obama -- stop changing your position on ending the war). The second best thing would be to treat them right(which isn't being done): Give them great benefits, give them the best medical care, give them the best educational opportunities, honor commitments to end tours of duty.
Whoops. I almost let myself get preachy. There are enough preachy blogsites.
Day Eight of Jerry's trip with the German girls. Today they are in Arizona. When I talked to Jerry on the phone today, they were heading to Flagstaff, on their way to the Grand Canyon, had just changed a tire of their bus-size rental SUV in 106-degree desert heat. Talk about miserable duty!