As I look at the picture of a graduating West Point cadet displaying his hat with the words "communism will win" inside, smiling as he shows he is wearing a Che Guervera T-shirt under his uniform jacket, and giving "the finger" to a sign with the name of West Point in the background, I get sick to my stomach thinking of how foolish this young man really is, and how he will surely feel someday when and if he matures. He will have to live with this foolish decision for the rest of his life. And the rest of his life will be sadly effected by the fork in the road that he chose to travel. One with a sign that reads "left with an other-than-honorable discharge."
Having proudly served in the U.S. Air Force and in a bomb wing in the states and on Guam in the early stages of the Viet Nam War, I worked my butt off taking all the college classes off base that I could, pursuing my dream of graduating and returning as a commissioned officer, hopefully assigned once again to SAC, and a bomb wing with a B-52 crew. I "got out" to speed up my education, but by the time I finished school, I had a family and circumstances prevented me from returning to active duty as an officer like I had planned.
Every time I pass a young officer in the airport anywhere who is obviously just beginning his career, I feel a sense of loss and regret that I never had the chance to live out my dream. I can only assume that someday this foolish young West Point cadet will live with his own regret, but also add to it remorse for throwing away an opportunity only made available to a select few. An opportunity to have graduated with pride and honor from one of America's most coveted institutions. An appointment that some other bright and talented young high school graduate would have gladly accepted in his place. I was wishfully thinking, oh if it had been only me. I can guarantee you that countless young men and women and I would not have thrown away that priceless opportunity.
If we could only serve again, we'd proudly raise our hand,
And join together once again as brothers of the band.
We'd raise our flag, and swell with pride, most would not understand,
That all of us would serve again, to save our sacred land.
It seems our young forget the lives, that paid the price to stand,
Nor will they really ever know, the pressures of command.
Don't think it's glory that we seek, or feelings even grand,
If we could only serve again, old men would lend a hand.
340th Bomb Wing SAC U.S. Air Force