I wanted to take the time to relate a couple of incidents, from my time in the U. S. Air Force. Trust me, I’ll explain why I’m doing this a little further along in this piece. For the time being, just take in the pictures, and see what you think of them.
I was relatively new in the military, not more than a couple of years in. I had married a young lady who was from the Republic of Korea.
I decided it would be a good thing, among other considerations, for me to see her home country.
I found a way to get myself on the installation I desired, and off we went!
One day, during one of the rainy seasons there, I found myself plodding heavily along, in a fairly steady downpour.
It was early evening, and I had a long way—more than two miles—to go to get home, off base.
As I walked, I was reminded by the playing of “To The Colors,” that the military day was coming to a close.
That particular tune, was used to tell one, flags were going to be lowered and put away, and Taps was about to commence playing. As was expected, I stopped, turned in the direction of what I knew was likely the nearest flag, snapped to attention, and prepared to salute the setting banner.
As I stood there, rain dripped off of pretty much every part of my body. It fell from the bill of my cap, down in front of my face.
I heard the melody, signaling the end of the day, saluted, waited until the last note had sounded, dropped my hand, and trudged on to my home.
Sometime later on, I was working in the receiving warehouse on that same installation, where I spent the majority of the day. The commander of the Pacific Air Forces, had decreed that his people would work fifty hours a week, as a measure combating culture shock. The thinking was, if you spent enough time working, perhaps you wouldn’t be so wierded out by the differences around you.
I was beginning a ten hour day (it was either a Friday or a Saturday, as I recall), and we were in the middle of a training exercise.
That particular learning session, was one of the type referred to as an ATSO (Ability to Survive and Operate) event.
On that day, in the middle of summer, I was told early on, that we were to don our chemical warfare attire (Ground Crew Ensemble, gas mask, cotton gloves, rubber gloves, and rubber boots, worn over the top of full uniform), and perform normal work, until notified to take it off.
As indicated, it was summer, and the warehouse had no air conditioning, which meant it was already a hotbox, as such, the heat was pretty difficult to handle. Wearing all that gear, made it that much worse, as you can imagine.
Both of these scenarios, could be taken for being very near the bottom of circumstances, in terms of fun and enjoyment value. To be sure, they were far from pleasant.
The reality is though, I tell those stories, neither to evoke pity for what I’ve been through, nor to show you just how bad things could be.
What you need to understand is, these were some of the more difficult times, in my military career.
The next thing you ought to be clear on is, my experiences were minor inconveniences by comparison to the likes of MSG Roy Benavidez (whose story can be heard in part, by watching the video found in this post on my blog site), and Audie Murphy.
These guys make everything I experienced in my time in service, look absolutely lame by comparison.
And they’re far from alone in that. Think of all those men (and women) who went to Afghanistan, and Iraq. Consider those who went to Vietnam, the Korean War, and the Second World War.
Concern yourself with those who lost limbs, who were burned beyond recognition, yet survived. Cast your mind on those who went to war on foreign soil, and never returned alive.
My little trials, were akin to skin blemishes by comparison, to what so many have dealt with.
The more amazing thing? Besides having tremendous amounts of physical prowess to bandy about, many of the folks mentioned, had virtually unimaginable inner strength.
Benavidez speaks of crawling to walls, in order to try to stand up, suffering unbelievable pain in his back, when doing so.
I can’t tell you how many others can make similar claims; I’m sure the number is not at all, a small one.
When I look back on my time, not just in the military, but in life overall, I’m often more than a little ashamed, how bitter, disappointed, sad, and upset, comparatively tiny things have made me.
Bearing witness to such internal fortitude, can only make a thinking person stand in awe, of the people displaying it.
I can toot my own horn here, and say that I’ve continued through some relatively tough circumstances, and that for the most part, I’ve come out stronger, and more able, as a result. That considered, the folks I’ve discussed in this article, make it very plain to me, I don’t necessarily hold a candle to the toughness, they apparently possess inside.
You may be going through hard times. You could be dealing with things, the like of which I’ve never dealt. Still, your ability to stand up within, and deal with such things, may end up being one of the most important things you can do. At some point, people may look at you, and see another Roy Benavidez.
It’s often not an easy thing, to edure the struggles and difficulties of life. Doing, so can make us want to give up on that toil at times. That said, being able to look at the struggles and difficulties of gallant, valorous individuals, and realize maybe what we’re experiencing isn’t as severe as we’d like to think, can be helpful to realign our perspective. It’s hoped we can come to really understand, what inner strength looks like, when we do.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.