Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

The truth … for honor

Posted by Hube on 2011/05/28


I have to admit, I was a bit — just a bit — apprehensive when Mr. John Hitchcock asked me to join Truth Before Dishonor as a part-time contributor. How come? Simple: I was never a member of the Armed Forces.

That’s not to say I didn’t come this close to joining up at several times in my life.

My maternal grandmother really wanted me to try to get into Annapolis. (For the uninformed, which there are probably very few, if any, among this blog’s readers, Annapolis is home to the United States Naval Academy.) Why did she so desire? Because her first husband, Gene, was a Naval aviator in the 1940s and early 1950s. Unfortunately, when my mother was a mere seven years old, a Naval representative appeared at my grandmother’s doorstep one morning in November, 1952. His news forever changed my grandmother’s — and mother’s — life: Gene was practicing night landings on the USS Roosevelt and his plane (a Corsair, still a propeller plane at this time as this was the era of changeover from prop to jet aircraft) crashed into the Mediterranean. His body was never found. Mom never really got to know grandfather Gene, being that he was overseas so much, and my two aunts (mom’s younger sisters) really never got to know him.

I certainly considered the prospect of going to Annapolis intriguing. As you may know, in order to get in, you must at least get one of your state’s US senators to sponsor you, and only a few (two? I cannot recall) from each of the 50 states are selected. My grades in high school were certainly good enough. So, why not give it a try?

Yeah, why not? Here’s why not: I wanted to fly, just like my grandfather. But my vision sucked. I had begun to wear glasses fairly regularly since 10th grade. And wearing specs is essentially a death sentence for prospective pilots. Ultimately, I decided against Annapolis, settling instead for the University of Delaware.

Also in high school as a senior, a Marine recruiter was almost successful in getting me to join up. (He was successful in getting a couple of my track team buddies to join.) Ultimately in that case, my father got on the phone (because the recruiter called constantly) and told the guy that I wasn’t interested, even though I actually was undecided.

As a college sophomore, I went into the Armed Forces recruiting center on Main Street in Newark (DE) one day to inquire about the Reserves. Unexpectedly, the recruiter was a complete prick, basically telling me to “forget it.” I dunno what the deal was; keep in mind this was the height of the Reagan era when the military experienced a renewed respect and enrollment numbers weren’t an issue. Maybe this dude had already reached his quota. It’s not like I was an undesirable specimen, after all … I wasn’t some Steve Rogers begging to be accepted; I was in good shape. Who knows. Again, maybe it’s because the military had witnessed a new-found respect now that Ronald Reagan was president. It certainly made sense, after all.

Right before college graduation I took one more chance: I went to the Naval recruitment center on North Broad Street in Philly to take their aptitude test. It consisted of two parts — a general knowledge test, which you had to pass in order to continue on, and then a specific pilots test. There were about ten of us there, including a gent wearing a Los Angeles Rams jacket (the Rams were still in LA in the late 80s, yes) which immediately made him a kindred spirit. (If you don’t know from reading The Colossus of Rhodey, I am possibly the biggest Rams fan ever.) He and I were two of only three allowed to continue after the general knowledge test. So, on to the pilots exam. Interestingly, every multiple choice question had a choice “E” which said “I don’t know.” I figured it’d be stupid to always fill that one out if I had even a slight hankering of what the right answer was; I only filled in “E” if I had absolutely no idea of the correct response.

It wasn’t sufficient. After the test, the Navy guy basically told me that I filled in too many choice “E’s,” but that being in a plane still wasn’t out of the question. I didn’t have my glasses on, so I then told him that I wear specs a lot of the time. He was like, “Oh, I see.” But he said that I could still be in a plane — just not fly. I could be a flight officer.

I decided against it. It was tough, tough decision. But … I wanted to fly — do the flying. If I failed at that (and I understood the chances of that were pretty good) then fine, but I at least wanted the chance. I still have regrets about that decision, not only about accepting that I could have flown (just not as a pilot), but that I didn’t experience something like boot camp. I’ve always been intrigued as to whether I’d make it. (As a college graduate entering flight school, I assume I would have gone through an officers candidate program similar to the one seen in “An Officer and a Gentleman.”) I think I could have, and then beyond that …? Who knows.

Nevertheless, I’ve always had the very highest respect for people in the military, past and present — for the simple fact that they deserve it, above just about all others. These are people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for you and me, and they’re willing to do it for peanuts of a salary and simple, basic living conditions. People who do not understand that, or, simply refuse to, deserve nothing but my (and your) scorn. Period.

Carry on.

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5 Responses to “The truth … for honor”

  1. Actual military ties are not a prerequisite, but respect for the military is. I’m glad you agreed to be a part-time contributor because you bring strong insight. You and I may not agree on every issue, but hey, nobody’s as perfect as me, right? (that’s sarcastic narcissism (or narcissistic sarcasm), in case anyone’s wondering) You embody the mentality of my byline and you embody Conservative values. And that’s all that matters, really. That your articles are mostly top-shelf (other than the frilly stuff) is merely a bonus, and bonus points do wonders for grades, right?

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  2. Hube said

    Well, as you’ve read, I definitely have that respect. Thanks for the compliments, and again, for the invite to join you here at TBD. 🙂

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  3. Foxfier said

    You’d manage boot camp– all it takes is being stubborn enough not to try to fail. Most boring months of my life, even with 9/11 being in the middle of it, and those of us with tactical knowledge knowing that destroying the camp would be a relatively simple step that would hurt the whole fleet.

    Welcome!

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  4. Dana Pico said

    As for me, I’m not a veteran, because my eyes — specifically my right eye — was too bad to pass the physical. 😦

    But if I had passed that eye test, my life would have been completely different, and the two daughters I have now, both of whom are in the Army Reserve, wouldn’t exist.

    I’m not sure why my eyes are so bad. My father had great vision, and my mother had good eyesight, needing only reading glasses as she reached middle age. But my vision was terrible, and one of my sisters had bad eyes, too. It’s my generation of the family which missed military service: my father was in the Army, my mother was in the Army (both during Korea), my uncle and my aunt were both in the Army (during World War II), my father-in-law was in the Army (WW2; Philippines), my wife’s aunt and uncle were both in the Army (WW2), and both of my daughters are in the Army.

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  5. Foxfier said

    I’m one of those odd folks that says military service doesn’t matter so much as understanding what serving in the military means. There’s no small number of people I actually know who DID serve for whom it may as well have been time at their dad’s business. (almost always they’re the folks with Connections; one that comes to mind was related to one of the less famous astronauts and never HEARD of military discipline, even when he came to work roaring drunk)

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