I was 18 years old and this was the last day of my adolescent life. I wake up and give my little sister, and girlfriend a hug. My step Mom dropped me off at the recruiters office in Fridley, MN so I could drive to MEPS in Fargo, ND. Ssgt Klukus is there waiting for me as I gave my mom a hug for the last time. I was shitting my pants thinking “why am I doing this”? “What the fuck did I just do”? “I can still turn back”. Then I thought about some of the people I know and how they are going nowhere. I wanted adventure, I wanted to be a part of something, I wanted a purpose in life. I get in the car and lean forward so I could see my mom and wave goodbye. She was waving and I could see tears in her eyes as we pulled away. I was terrified.
It was a long drive to Alexandria Minnesota. We drove out there to picked up more people that were on their way to MEPS as well. I get out and sit in the lobby of a hotel waiting for the other new trainees. I remember watching a family sitting down at a diner connected to the front lobby thinking about how I will no longer have my family to lean on. I felt alone in a crowded lobby. About 20 minutes go by and the rest the trainees show up in a 12 passenger van. I hop into the van filled with 18 and 19 year old boys and girls. Not one word was said on the drive from Alexandria to Fargo. When we rolled into Fargo, it was foggy, and dull. Nothing more depressing the foggy and wet weather when you are already feeling alone. MEPS is the long drawn out medical screening you go through before Basic training that takes a whole day. You go in with a bunch of other folks and stand there in your underwear. You do the crab walk, bear crawl, lunges to make sure your joints are ok. The worst part is when you go in the the back office and the old guy tugs at your balls and poke your butthole. At least I hope everyone else had their butthole poked...felt kind of awkward, the Dr. was a creepy old guy. Then after this crazy underwear olympics you go into a separate room where everyone is sworn in. Your last chance to run.
I remember sitting in the room talking to Red after we got done with MEPS on the 14th. Red was about 6’2’’ with blaze orange hair and eyebrows with a crooked smile. He was a little larger, about 225 lbs of well...not muscle. He was pounding a gallon water jug and taking a bunch of niacin and I asked him why. “Bro I smoked a shitload of weed and I want to make sure I pass the drug test in basic”. He did end up passing. We went and met up with the rest of the group that was in MEPS together for dinner at the shitty restaurant attached to the motel. We all did a toast (with water because we were all 18 and 19) and stayed there until about 9 or 10. There was an eerie silence at the table at the end of the night. There was a tv on and we all just sat there together in silence watching a news story about Iraq. One by one, someone would leave and go back to their room until it was just me and Red. We didn't want to sleep because early the next morning, reality was about to kick us in the face.
The next day we all load up on a bus to head to the airport. There was a mix of men and women on the bus and we were all headed to San Antonio, Texas. Lackland Air Force Base is the only place where the Air Force has basic training. The Army that has a few locations, Marines have 2, and who cares about the Navy, they are all just splashing around in a pool somewhere. I remember the flight being long and wishing it would never end. Once we got off of the flight they brought us to the San Antonio airport USO. It was quiet filled with people watching tv, talking on their phones, and sitting in recliners. You could cut the tension in that room with a spoon. The looks on some of the faces in there were straight fear. One girl looked like she was about to throw up, there was one kid in the corner rocking back and forth, people chewing on fingernails, restless leg syndrome all over the room. I remember sitting there staring out of the window when I sat down at a table with Red. I felt massive amounts of pressure in my chest, my stomach was churning. I was profusely sweating while I kept replaying the basic training scenes from “Full Metal Jacket”. I look off into the distance and I see a yellow school bus driving towards us. A very large guy, about 6’4’’ absolutely jacked, gets out of the bus wearing the smokey the bear hat and BDU uniform. I felt like a frog just jumped out of my throat and the room was dead silent. He walks in and yells “EVERYONE ON THE BUS, NOW”! I felt as though I was being kidnaped. We pile on the bus back to front squished in like sardines in a can. It was about a 30 minute bus ride to the 321st basic training squadron. The terrifying site of 6 drill instructors standing there, arms crossed, uniforms perfectly pressed, smokey the bear hats tilted forward so you could barely see the scowl on their faces, had all of us shitting our pants. My life was about to change, and I would never be the same.
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The last picture of me as child with my mom.
As I walk into my 8th grade classroom September 11th, 2001 the tv is on and everyone is quiey. All I saw was a building on fire when I sat down at my desk. Seconds after I walked into the classroom we see the second plane fly into the 2nd Trade Centre Tower. The day they said we should never forget seems to have been forgotten these days, but that is a subject for a different time. I still remember feeling scared, sad, angry, and confused. I was 13 years old when I first had the feeling of rage towards another group of people. I’m not going to get into conspiracies or what I think truly happened that day but all I know is a lot of our people died and I was pissed. I struggled to find out why someone would hurt innocent people. Most of you that know me, know I would never be the bully and I was always the one sticking up for the little guy. Accept for one instance in 7th grade. For some reason I would fuck with this one kid and say his name really loud. We did it quite often and for some reason I didn’t like the kid and we harassed him. Sounds stupid but I think it made him feel out of place and probably caused him some pain and I obviously still think about it. If you ever see this, sorry Andrew G. I was never perfect and full of flaws and I always tried to uphold my fathers rule of stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves. I wanted to help all of those people in New York but I had no clue how.
October 7th, 2001 the video heard around the world. America was pissed and this is how we fight back. George W. Bush announce were we starting military action against the terrorist group Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan thought to be the ones who planned the devastating attack on the World Trade towers on September 11th. After seeing all the Army guys, tanks, Navy ships, Air force jets dropping bombs, and Marines about to put boots on ground in Afghanistan; I thought, this is how I help those families who lost their loved ones in those towers. I found out they don’t let 13 year olds join the military for some reason. As the years went on the thought of joining the military was always there. My Grandpa George (Joe) was an ex Navy technician on a carrier in the Korean war. I sat down and talk to him about it not long ago. Grandpa doesn’t talk too much but he is always smiling. My father Brian was a Marine, and he would tell everyone he is, like most Marines do. Oorah boys, y’all are retarded but I still love you. Who else better to scare the shit out of the enemy than a shit load of Marines ready to kill and destroy anything in their path. In my head I was thinking Marines but my dad would always sway me towards something else.
I met my Step mom and surrogate mother when I was too young to remember. I can’t say enough great things about her and she is a huge factor into the morals I have today. She had a long time friend who was in the Air Force and I believe around the age of 16 we had a long conversation. My dad kept pitching the Air Force saying “Your Uncle Dave was in the Air Force and retired, now he works for the post office”. I looked into it but my life goal was always to be a cop. I wanted to join the military but I still wanted to fulfill my dream of being a cop. My Uncle Dave was Air Force Security Forces for the beginning of his career them switched to be a recruiter. I decided to go check out a recruitment office. I walked into the crossroads mall in Roseville, Minnesota and found the recruitment centre. Army, Navy, Marines...no Air Force. I decided to talk to the Army Recruiter and talked to him about all the cool shit I could do. I told him i wanted to be a cop, but I wanted to jump out of planes and be a sniper. What I know now is this guy looked at me like I was a moron and probably wanted to throat chop me right there. We talked for a while and tried to get me to sign up for some stupid PT program. Yea right, a 17 year old, do pushups and run, at what time? HELL NO, I’d rather chase girls, drink and smoke weed.
Yes I was a sinner, I drank way to much before I joined and I did a lot of stupid shit. There were nights we went out drinking and polished off a handle of Captain Morgan at the age of 16 between just 2 or 3 of us. We would drink at school occasionally and put UV blue inside our gatorade bottles. Most nights it was just me and my friend stealing his parents booze and sneaking off to the infamous THE HILL. A place were we hung out, drank, smoked weed and listened to country music on the hood of my buddy's super cool Saturn. That place meant a lot to the self proclaimed Lauderdale gang (shout out to the homies). The drinking just kept getting worse between all of us and I started to worry what the fuck was going to happen to me if I kept going that route. I needed to get out, even though I didn't want to abandon my best friend. I knew he would always be there for me, and he always was and still is. Love you buddy.
I graduated high school June of 2006. I had a job at Burlington Coat Factory in the baby depot and I was fucking miserable. I had to build model cribs and strollers, help pregnant ladies find shit for their newborns. They made me sort fucking baby clothes when I didn't have anything else to do. I use to stack crib boxes in the storage area into a fort so I could climb back there and sleep because I hated my job so much. I remember the day I knew I was destined for more. I was talking to my department manager and she asked me what i'm going to do now that I graduated high school. I just stared at her and said “I don’t know, work here full time”? She laughed and said “honey, think about it, you will be here every day standing around helping pissed off pregnant ladies because they cant find something. You will have to clean and rearrange baby clothes, move boxes, build cribs and for a whopping $7 per hour”? “You think you will be happy with that”? I clocked out and quit on the spot. That is after buying my leather jacket I had always wanted to buy and my parents would buy for me. I hid it in the back the first day I got there because it was the last one like it. To be totally honest, that jacked was the only reason why I started working there in the first place.
I finally found out where the Air Force Recruitment centre was in Fridley Minnesota. Wearing my new leather jacket, I walked in and met with SSgt Klukus I believe her name was. I told her I want to be security forces and she pretty much shook my hand and said “Congratulations, that shouldn't be a problem”! Not knowing I was about to get shit on for the next 6 years. For those who don’t know, Security forces is like the red headed step child of the Air Force. No one likes because we are Air Force, and no one likes us in the Air Force because we are cops. We get the shittiest living conditions in the Air Force, usually shit food, and shittiest rules. We were a mixture of cops, security, and “infantry” to make it easier to explain to the normies reading this. Yes Army and Marines, we were not actually infantry but we did a lot of route clearance, QRF, ASO, and convoys. Google those terms if you don't know what they are. June 18th I signed the dotted line and I was ready for my next big adventure.
Now there are plenty of reasons why people join the military. For me it was a mix of family tradition, fear of being a nobody, fast track to becoming a cop, did not want to go to college. However, I can honestly say, seeing all of those people die on 9/11 lit a fire that has never stopped burning until this day. Every day I was in the military I had the best reason to go to war...my brothers and sisters beside me on the front line. There will never be a bond stronger than someone you fought beside. Many people don’t have a reason why they join but I bet that brotherhood was something that gave it some meaning.
I would never change one piece of my past and I would sign that dotted line time and time again. No one can take away the honor I had to serve next to America's finest.
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