Veterans Day is one of my favorite days of the entire year. I loved being a US soldier.
It was a pretty simple job. Today, my job isn’t so simple. But, hell, whose job is?
A few of you have asked about my time in the military. I always say this, if you or someone you know is considering joining the military, do it. You will never, ever, regret it.
I was stationed at Ford Ord in Monterey, California, home of the 7th Infantry Division (Light). The Light Fighter. During my time it was directly involved in some critical deployments.
In 1989 the 7th IDL was deployed to Panama to restore order and captured dictator Manuel Noriega. In 1990 the 7th IDL joined the coalition troops sent to the middle east to defeat Iraq during Desert Storm.
One of the last deployments was to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In September of 1994 Fort Ord closed it’s gates and forever became a part of US military history.
121 military bases have closed since the passing of the 1988 B.R.& C. Act.
I went back to visit Ord a few years ago. It’s completely different, but my barracks were still standing. The door being unlocked was a surprise. My wife and I snuck upstairs to snap a picture that I will cherish forever.
No matter what one talks about, when you are away for a little while, it always seems to mean so much more when you return.
But it was different. Much different. The colorful banners were replaced with anti-war graffiti, but the pull up bars were still standing.
The engineer coat of arms was filthy, but I could have had it back to its proper, brilliant shine in no time.
The concrete where we used to do thousands of push ups was slowly being taken over by that california crab grass known as ice plant. A flat shovel would make it disappear in no time.
The softball field where we won the post championship was a little overgrown, but give me a weedeater and we could have played nine innings.
But Stilwell Hall was near its end. The 52,000-sq ft social hot spot for soldiers who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. It was built at the behest of its namesake, Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, who commanded Fort Ord and the 7th Infantry Division at the outbreak of World War II.
It wasn’t long after we left that Stilwell Hall was destroyed.
But my memory of representing the finest country in the world will never be destroyed. We had a great time when we were soldiers.
I miss it.