Today marks the 24th anniversary of my enlistment into the US Navy. That’s right, on a wintry evening long ago I was stepping off a bus in Great Lakes, IL, and the start of what would prove to be one of the defining periods of my life when it led to sixteen years of military service with four different branches (if you count the National Guard as a branch).
So much has changed since that day. Besides getting older, fatter, and ambulatory disabled, that young hick from Iowa learned how to plan for more than the next twenty-four hours, fix most broken equipment, trust strangers with his life and in turn save their lives as well. If I were a character in one of my stories, there would be enough material to cover several books in the series just from military service alone.
I credit my current position in life to December 3rd, including my pseudo-career as a fiction writer. My first published work was written as I stood on watch in the wee hours of the morning. Each subsequent piece built upon places I visited and people I met along the way, like the time I laughed non-stop for almost an hour as two crewmen taunted each other over their accents!
“… say Baah-ston,” the NY native would crow.
His rival from MA would shout back, “Say Law-ng Eye-land….”
I haven’t used them in a story yet, but I’m sure they will end up in one some day.