My Discharge

In another section of this blog-you can find a ‘thumb picture’ of a Navy fleet showing its power as it heads for a cruise. I saw that once , in 1969-I was a part of one…I think it is called a battle group. I cannot remember.

When my brother Frank mutilated my shirts – my work shirts -I thought it was just a joke being played on little brother. The lettering above my shirt pockets was way large-larger than regulation , and the angles of the cuts where he cut my sleeves made my works shirts essentially ‘out of uniform’ and they restricted me to certain areas of the ship because I hadno uniforms…they do not give them away , and I could’nt go for new ones that easily.

The ship was large enough that I was able to bunk in a more vacent section-that had no ventilation…and ended up sending me back to the area near the galley-where at least there was some air flow…but also a larger congregation of men-and nearer to Franks section. Frank ran the ships services-that means the laundry and barbershop and he also had something to do with the ‘gedunk’….a place where we could buy cig’s and chocoletes and assorted 7/11 store type things. The barber shop was situated near the galley. I did’nt realize it then that my brother made it seem like I was his man and so I had to do what he said…and often times I could be found cleaning his locker-a three tiered chrome plated tall locker intended for three men-but this one was Franks. He’d make me polish it and a second one he had in the laundry…his words-“shine it to see the pimples on my ass”!! It was like my brother had his own special squad-me , to do what ever mundane thing he felt…it was easy for him to do-I was his kid brother but also fresh out of boots and still had the boot mentality and thought this was the way it was supposed to be.

When we sailed for Cuba my heart was thrilled-I never felt so grown up and ready to face the world and to visit foriegn ports-we were supposed to be doing just that but something happened to the ship and we had to wait for some repairs in Cuba and then were sent back to the states to be reparied and readied to meet the fleet in Viet Nam , or so I remember it being. There are several things my memory retains but is vague about yet grace allows them to be revived and given valitity…I always remembered the snow stoem…how could I forget-but I had always thought of that night as being the new years eve , but that was only association-it was new years week end…and I only put that back together this past year. I also always felt-I think I heard it from Bob that it was a drug amnesty that Nixon offered the troops that got me discharged…never have been able to find the information on that-but Bob insisted that because I was already on some list that that is why I got discharged so quickly.My records are so incorrect that it is hard for anyone to say what is so and what is not…one of my official records say I was enlisted at the age of 10…and yet the Navy insists thier records are correct. And how did I end up with an honorable discharge if I was faceing so many years in the brig?

I’ve always been ashamed of the entire event. I feel like I let my country down…when indeed my country failed me – I enlisted freely when others were running to live in another country. I wanted a relationship with my brother-and that too was failure…his failure,but for some reason I take it as mine. The guilt and shame of missing the opportunity to seek the challenges the Navy was going to offer me…the new fresh start to complete my education and go on with life and be someone who sought to achieve all the rank the Navy could give me. I wanted to live my life feeling the heartbeat of the fleet going out as one feels when the big drum comes by in a parade. Robbed…it was all robbed from me , stolen and sold out by my own brother.

I few months ago my youngest son called and asked if I could attend the funeral for a young man my sons attended school with-it turned out I remembered the young man and said I’d be pleased to do that. I stopped at a store and bought a card for condolences and wrote in it to explain I was there for my sons and how sad they – we were for the loss. I did not know the young man was in the Navy and had drowned in a diving accident during training. The funeral home was filled with sailors. During the service I could’nt handle it and I started to cry and his family kept looking back at me as if to wonder who I was….it was worse at the graveside when the color gaurd folded the flag during taps and the guns went off in salute. I was crying for both of us-proud of him..and saddened for me because I would want those things to happen at my graveside at my passing…and yet feel a failure and not deserving of the honor. And I did nothing wrong.

One Response to “My Discharge”

  1. Lori Says:

    HI

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