Author: Steve Traywick
“Some had families waiting. For others, their only family would be the men they bled beside. There were no bands, no flags, no Honor Guards to welcome them home. They went to war because their country ordered them to. But in the end, they fought not for their country or their flag, they fought for each other.” Joseph Galloway, Narrator: We Were Soldiers
It’s Thanksgiving again and, as always, my thoughts return to a different time and a different
kind of family. In Reflections of a Cold War Warrior – Being There, I mentioned my first Thanksgiving in Germany but now I think it’s time to introduce you to the men. Grab a cup of coffee or a beer and come on into the kitchen; I have a tale to tell. I want you to meet my other family. We fought with and for each other.
If I didn’t mention it at the beginning of this blog, I AM NOT A WRITER! I’m not sure I can write a word portrait of someone but I’m going to try. History is made up of what real people have done. The guys I served with were just that: real people. They were sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and friends. Several of them made a huge impact on my life. I remember most of them with the fondest warmth. There were some assholes of course. You can’t get a large crowd of people together without having at least one, but I’ll get to them much later on.
A lot of us were just kids although we thought we were grown. A lot of us were in the Army in the first place because of the economy during the early 1980s. We simply couldn’t find jobs. I couldn’t find a job, but since I was (and still am) a history nut I thought armor would be the way to go. I certainly didn’t want to find myself in the woods humping a ruck sack.
I didn’t intend to editorialize, but I still lose patience with people who remember Jimmy Carter as a great statesman. He may have been, but he was a disaster as a president. I think the country is better off with him in retirement than sitting in the Oval Office. I remember high unemployment, sharply rising gas prices, interest rates in the twenty percent, the Ayatollah Khomeini taking power in Iran with Carter’s blessing, the Iran Hostage situation, and a lot more. The high unemployment rate is what put a lot of us in uniform.
A lot of guys went in to take advantage of the GI bill, but not me. They had just changed it when I went in and it pretty much didn’t amount to anything. A lot of them stayed in and made the Army a career. I believe to this day that the classes of 1979 and 1980 formed the backbone of the Army that went into Kuwait in 1991 and kicked some and took some. We became Uncle Ronnie’s Army.
If you can’t tell, I’m stalling about writing the word portraits of the guys I knew. Through the magic of Facebook, I’ve been able to get in touch with many of them. Some of them have changed and some of them are much the same way we were when we were younger. We’ve certainly all aged. So, if any of them happen to read this, I hope they’ll understand. Continue reading