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Armchair Ponderings
Should we bring back the draft?

Guy Geller

Donuts on Cake

Last week I read the Mac Gordon column on military service in both of the local newspapers. Though I don’t always agree with some of Mr. Gordon’s writings; I whole heartedly support the content of his column on military service.

The spate of murders by young people has me concerned; I am sure that many other citizens have the same thoughts. Could a universal draft of young able bodied serve a purpose?

We also, have the concern that many young people male or female are not able to score high enough in the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) to qualify for today’s military services. What a shame!

Let’s go back some 68 years when the draft of young men of 18 years, was rampant. Our first twelve weeks of basic training were intended to show us how insignificant we all really were; equally so. We were all issued ill-fitting clothes, all had shaved heads, were all vaccinated in long lines and gave little thought to new needles, and then came demeaning tasks; like mopping the floors that didn’t need it, peeling potatoes until three in the morning and learning to get along, regardless of individual complaints. You had to support the one you may not have liked and he you. We survived all of that and were better for it.

I won’t even approach the current military situation throughout the world, but the time may come when the volunteer services may have to be augment with people who may or may not have only some type of experience. Why do young people join gangs? To belong to a group, to get recognition and sometime for excitement. If that’s what they want; I recommend joining a branch of the United States services. Look at free lodging, free medical care, more free education all for investing two or four years of your lives.

We have seven grandsons of varied ages. Three joined the Navy and were assigned to three different aircraft carriers. Undoubtedly that has something to do with tragedy and loss of the five Sullivan brothers who died aboard the USS Juneau when the ship was torpedoed off of Guadalcanal during World War II. The fourth joined the United States Marines and will finish his twenty years after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan several times, and then Okinawa. One of the Navy petty officers finished college and earned a commission in the US Army as a Captain and will retire after his tour in Hawaii. The third who is actually our granddaughter’s husband was discharged from the Navy and joined the National Guard. He was almost immediately sent to Afghanistan where he was wounded. The other three graduated from college.

My point being that none are in jail, they each have a family of varied ages and are honorable men of whom we are very proud. There is a lot to be said for military service, even a universal draft. Maybe there would not be as many shootings and murders among young people of all races.

I, like Mr. Gordon also, will recount my Greyhound bus experience. Mine from Sampson Air Force Base in Geneva, New York to the then booming metropolis of Biloxi, MS.

I graduated high school in 1954. My eighteenth birthday was September 20th. I registered for the draft on the 21st as required by law, and enlisted in the United States Air Force on the 22nd. Three weeks later, during my basic training, I received a letter inviting me to report to the draft board for my induction and draft assignment. I dutifully took my letter to the squadron adjutant; he glanced at it, tore it into four sections and threw it in the waste basket with a big grin on his face saying “you belong to us now!” I won’t describe my next eleven years, but suffice it to say that having lost my father at six years of age; I did not want our three children to suffer the same fate growing up.

It was not that simple! Enlistees were herded into a large room with around fifty others to begin a two days battery of test. The AFQT (Air Force Qualification Test) of the day would help to determine your school specialty and the following four year’s assignment. After several weeks of Basic Training, I was assigned to a strange place called Biloxi, in Mississippi. There, on the beach, I met my wife to be. Next month we will have been married sixty- five years, so Biloxi has good memories.

There are still twenty countries with mandatory military service. Switzerland that has notoriously been neutral during global conflicts, has an all-encompassing military service consisting of from 18 weeks to 21 weeks for ages from 19 to 34. Would the draft be a good thing for the US today? I would say yes! Regardless of financial status, gender and race.

Donuts on Cake
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