In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.
November 11 is the day I thank the powers that be for the opportunities I’ve had in life. I served from 1963 to 1969 so that makes me a Navy veteran, but I’m not a veteran in the sense that most people think of when they say veteran. I’ve never manned a gun in a ball turret, nor have I crouched in a fox hole next to a wounded buddy. I’ve never stormed a beach, driven a tank along a mined road, nor waded through a rice paddy with an M-16 in my hands. I wasn’t the 17-year old in bed #9 with a missing leg, and thousand-yard stare.
The Navy paid for my last two years of college, and I simply spent the next four years doing the same work I’d have done if I’d been a civilian, but getting better pay. The Navy launched me into my adulthood and shaped the direction of my life. I learned to grieve. I learned to serve. I learned to say, “No excuse, Sir.” I learned to truly care. I learned to hate the war, but love the warriors. I grew up.