Thirty six years ago, give or take I was happily doing my job in an Army warehouse on Ft Campbell. My most sacred duty was calling, "Gut truck!"over the intercom, the second that it touched our gravel. We may have been wearing cammies, but they were jungle cammies, not the desert style of today. I was still wearing my green's, too. We were the last basic training unit to receive the old style green pickle suits.
So one day, maybe a Tuesday or a Thursday, I called gut truck, everyone rushed to the big loading dock doors, they got in line and just as things were getting started, the air raid siren next to the warehouse went off. Not a huge deal, really. Ft Campbell sits in Tornado alley and it is likely the only flat part of Kentucky of Tennessee on it's borders. That particular day, was cloudless and blue sky as far as the eye could see. It wasn't cold, it wasn't hot. It was particularly puzzling, because there was no storm. Within seconds, the Duce and 1/2's showed up and if it wasn't on our body, we were not taking it with. We hustled back to the barracks, we dug our combat gear our from underneath the stuff we actually used, signed out our unloaded weapons and within a couple of hours, we were sitting on a C130, on the tarmac at the Air Field on the north side of the post.
You could have heard a pin drop on the hollow monster that was surely to big to leave the ground. It was maybe the first time in months that I was not in earshot of a boombox. It was deathly quiet, other than the occasional conversations between the Sr NCO's who felt a little immortal, having been grunts in Nam. Supply is where you go, when your recruiter lies to you or when you lose your knees and ankles, jumping out of perfectly good C130's, Huey's and Schinooks. Artillery, is next but then you lose your hearing and it is either supply or the worst case, Ft Living Room before you got your twenty in.
The buzz, at the time was Costa Rica, maybe Panama. Iran Contra was in full swing, but of course, no one knew. My ex and I had recently moved in together and he was somewhere there, in another C130. He was Special Ops on a C130 full of grunts, airborne orphans of the 82nd and the Combat Engineers.
It dawned on me, that I had never once, even seen the field computer that I would have to depend on to do my job better than I'd ever done it before. When Ft Campbell deployed as a unit once a year, everyone left but those of us who worked with computers. Training is one thing, but we worshiped at the feet of an IBM 360 that sat in a sterile room surrounded by glass. It did not go to war, and neither did those who babysat, "the system."
Then again, there I was sitting next to my roommate, on a bench on one of the sidewalls. We couldn't see the other side of the massive plane, the back had been opened up into a ramp and they'd driven the whole motor pool into the middle of the plane.
They shut the back ramp, the engines started and we taxied down the runway and I decided it would be a good time, to own that I was a soldier and I was going to war. I had to ask myself, that very minute, what I would die for. Yes, I sure as hell could shoot someone dead, if ordered to, or to protect myself or those with me. I would not think twice and that's kind of an odd thing to say. It just is and I don't doubt it.
My ability to speak my mind, to vote and to be the master of my own soul was my conclusion. It has occurred to me that in spite of all the changes that I've gone through in the last 35 years, that has not changed. I have added to that my children, which weren't even a glimmer in my eye, in those days.
The plane taxied for what felt like forever, then it stopped, they opened the back end of the plane marched us out, emptied the motorpool back onto the tarmac, we put everything up and went back to our normal. We did't ask, where or why. I don't think anyone really cared to know. I don't think anyone even discussed it. It didn't happen, as far as all involved were concerned.
It was a stealth training exercise, that is my story and I'm sticking to it.