Saturday, May 2, 2015

Reset Switch

The Reset Switch

Don't you sometimes wish life came with a reset switch? Me too. I really felt that way today after attending an airshow at Dyess Air Force Base,  It's the home of the B-1 bomber, one of them anyway. It's also my home. Abilene, not Dyess although my husband Lance retired from there after serving his country with honor for 20 years. The other is in South Dakota. I'm apologize, but the name of the base escapes me at the moment. I could look it up but I figure if it's important to you, you can do it as easily as me. 

The reason for today's topic is because I spent several hours at Dyess today. I was amazed and awed by some of the aircraft from the earliest days of the Air Force to the latest aircraft of today. The sheer size difference alone is incredible. I imagined our grandfathers and great grandfathers flying those small planes, and actually winning the wars they so valiantly fought. I also thought back to those who served in Vietnam and were not welcomed home. And it is with this thought that my missive today is dedicated to everyone everywhere who has ever served, wanted to serve and couldn't because of whatever reason, or those who served in other ways, I salute you and honor your valor and courage in the face of the enemy foreign and domestic. Thank you for your service, it is long overdue, and well deserved by every American Soldier. I am so very proud to have been walking among you, who are serving yet today. 

Lance and I walked a good hike from the only parking we could find, which was actually closer than some, and walked into a wonderland of Airplanes, people and fair food. From the many Air Force Marines, Navy, and Army personnel to the absolute countless civilians, and vendors, I would say it would be a pretty good bet, the mall was empty today.

I'm glad I was at Dyess. I might have been one among the thousands that were there, but I was there too. And I have the sunburn to prove it. I also have a picture of me with the three of the pilots of the Thunderbirds. I know I wasn't the only one they took a photo with, but it's oh so very special to me. They were so polite and I felt blessed to know that these brave young men are watching the skies for us.

We wandered past more planes and found a group of Marines. I too was a Marine, A Woman Marine. I enlisted in 1978. It was before women were big on equal rights and so forth so our motto was Free a Man to Fight. We learned how to iron, polish shoes, put on makeup, how to do trick drill and Free a Man to Fight. You see, at that time women weren't allowed on the firing lines, or to even hold a fire arm and we certainly weren't allowed to wear slacks unless we were at PT. We had a very strict code of conduct. We weren't to speak to the men at anytime and we were very segregated on a small island in South Carolina called Parris. The only time we got to "socialize" was at church on Sunday's and believe me, we socialized.

Anyway, we came upon a group of Marines. I asked them if I could take their photo and mentioned that about 35 years ago I was a Marine too. They dropped everything, enveloped me like a lost sister, and even took pictures of me with them. Another stellar moment in my life that I can tuck away and take out again when I get old, and once again, wish I had a reset button.

I felt that way today knowing something that those young men didn't. I was in the Marine Corps and I took the oath the same as they did, with one exception, I couldn't stay. Or, let me rephrase that, I chose not to stay, because my life turned upside down with one phone call.

Let me back up to 1978. I was one of the lucky ones. The one whose parents were still together, the one whose family loved each other and stood by you no matter what. Who loved you and promised to be there for you for at least the foreseeable future. Or at least for the next six weeks while I was away at boot camp in another state as far away from the Hell that was Playas, NM as you could possibly get. For goodness sake it was six weeks. Six Weeks. Well, someone lied. And this person new she was lying when she did it. Had she told me before she let me get go that day, to start a new life as a Marine, things might have turned out differently. But she stood right there, told me she and my Dad would see me in six weeks for my graduation, and lied to me. Do I still respect her. No, not since that day so long ago. Do I love her? Of course she's my Mother.

I had never been away from home for more than an overnight stay at a friends house in 18 years. But here I was, starting my life as a Marine Corps recruit. I can honestly say I thought I was in Hell number 2, however,  Playas, NM being the proud bearer of that dubious title was taken, so boot camp became purgatory. I look back on it and laugh now. It was a cakewalk. We were taught how to put on makeup, how to dress properly and how to drill. We even had PT, sort of. I have a harder time getting out of bed today than PT ever thought of being when I was a recruit. But if we were born with the knowledge that we have as a 50 year old adult, life wouldn't be so frightening and we wouldn't be dreaming of having a reset switch.

I was in my sixth week of boot camp. Three days from graduating, and I contracted the measles. My Drill instructors packed up my belongings and sent me to the hospital. My squad graduated without me, I got to make a phone call home, and I got sent back to a new platoon to re-do the last 2 weeks of my training.

I think I could have handled the re-do of the last 2 weeks of my training if it hadn't been for the phone call home. I called in the evening when I knew both of my parents would be home. My Mom answered and said to me, "I have something to tell you. your Dad and I are getting a divorce." No warning. Just blurted it out and told me that, she and Dale were married except for the piece of paper that said they were. I can't even  remember what else we talked about or if we talked at all. All I remember was her telling me, your Dad and I are getting a divorce.

I gathered up all of my belongings, went to the hospital waiting room and proceeded to wait for the bus to come and get me. The bus came and took me to my new barracks and I met my new squad.

I went through the next week numb to my bones. I got a long letter from my Dad telling me that he was sorry I found out the way I did but it wasn't his idea. He was so heartbroken, and I could literally see tear tracks on the pages of the letter he sent me. I cried too. My heart was also broken. He told me who Dale was and how Mom told him she wanted a divorce.  It was the same day I left for the Marine Corps. My heart broke some more.

I had been with my new squad for a week and had a week to go. It might as well have been an eternity. I just lost my heart and told my squad leader I wanted out. The next week I was in casual company and watching yet another squad graduate without me. I spent two weeks acclimating back to civilian life. This time it was because of a decision I made. So all total I was gone for a total of 10 weeks. I have a document that states I was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps. Thinking of that document I wondered about a reset switch today.

I asked Lance if he ever wished for a reset switch? He said not really. If we could live our lives again think about what we would have missed in this one. The forks in the roads of our lives would have been different and odds were I wouldn't have met you. My heart melted, and I was reminded once again, that God blessed the broken road, that led me straight to him.
But I still think if I had a reset switch I would have pushed it and gone back to live that part of my life over again. I'm not sure I would have made the same decision but it would be nice to find out.

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