As I was thinking of the courageous warriors that we lost this past weekend in Afghanistan, I was reminded of my first weekend in uniform 28 years ago. Long before all of my Army experiences, There was a first weekend in the Army for me, a young Private starting Infantry One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. That weekend was the first weekend in August, 1982...and my first real military duty was guard duty. Up to that point I was a glorified civilian stumbling through standing in line, getting shots, getting mis-matched uniforms from two different eras. (My first uniforms were 2 sets of BDU, and one set of OG109's, the "Pickle Suit" that made you look like "Beetle Bailey." The Army couldn't even decide on the right t-shirts, I got 4 brown for the BDU's and 2 green ones. We never wore the green ones, always preferring the cool camouflage.) I really didn't feel like much of a soldier.
So, a couple of nights into my Basic Training experience, I was walked out to a building, armed with an ax handle, asked to recite the first three general orders, shown how to use a TA-312 and check into the CQ, and told to guard it. It was about 0300-0500, and I was sitting alone in the Georgia woods, a few miles from US 27, the road that ran past my home in Florida, by where I was, up past my college in Georgia, and past the Chickamauga battlefield that I first considered becoming a soldier. There was a single street lamp on one end of the building, and there was plenty of time to think about what I had signed up for. It was then I really thought about it, that it really came down to one person, doing their part for the greater good. And then I heard it, coming out of the woods, the sound. The sound of the Ranger School coming alive across the highway. That sound was unlike anything I'd ever heard. If you could ask someone to record the sound of fierce determination, this is what it would sound like. Raw spirit, fight, and courage. It was amazing to hear as the sun slowly came up over the Georgia pines. I knew then I was a Soldier. One day I would become a Paratrooper, after that I would become a Ranger, but that day I became a soldier. Realizing what may be asked of me, recognizing that I would to deliver it, knowing that I would be remembered.