Saturday, August 06, 2016

A Quick 20

I was visiting a facebook page for the 133d Signal Battalion of the Illinois Army National Guard today (it's a private group, but I can send the link if you are interested in joining).  It reminded me of a conversation I had with my dad.

One day in my junior year of high school I came home from school and Dad was in his room getting dressed or undressed (with his rotating shift it could have been either).  He called me up and asked me how I was expecting to pay for college.

I was sixteen at the time, but there had never been any question about whether I was going to college or not, I was going.  I don't remember ever deciding that, I just always knew it.  What I never considered was the cost.

I had always known I was going to have to pay for it.  I don't remember it myself, but Dad always reminded us that the day we each came home from the hospital after being born he took us around the house and showed us the place.  He then told us the rules and baptized us in the kitchen sink.  Among the rules was the fact that he would not pay for our college.

My answer to Dad that afternoon was, "I dunno," with a shrug.

"Well, you could join the Guard.  The Illinois Guard offers a full scholarship to  any state school."

To this I responded, "Yeah.  That's what I'm going to do."  Done deal, decision made.  No problem.

"You can just do  a quick twenty and get out."

A quick twenty?!  I was only sixteen.  I hadn't even seen twenty years yet.  I was far less committed to that idea than the idea of enlisting to pay for school.

"What do you want to do in the army?"  Dad asked.

"Drive tanks or fly helicopters," I said with a mighty, manly grunt of youthful testosterone.

"Well Illinois doesn't have any armor units, but I'll check into finding you an aviation unit."

True to his word of course he found me a unit, the 1903d Helicopter Maintenance Company.  The main part of the unit was based out of Midway airport and they had a detachment in Decatur.

In November of that year I turned seventeen and on January 14, 1984 Dad and I got in the car to drive to the recruiting center on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  A few blocks after leaving our house we stopped off and picked up  Jac Charlier.

Unknown to me Dad must have had a similar talk with Jac.  He and I enlisted together that day and in 2007 I retired after doing a, "Quick" twenty three years.

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