Yesterday was Veterans Day.
I am a veteran of the Vietnam War,
in which 50,000 of my generation gave their lives.
All of us had to deal with it somehow.
I graduated from college in 1968, the year of the Tet Offensive.
Men of my age were drafted in huge numbers,
and to avoid that fate I applied for admission to Naval Officer Candidate School.
I was accepted, so six weeks after college graduation I showed up in Newport, RI
to begin a grueling 4 1/2 months that would qualify me to lead men into battle, read navigation charts and fire torpedoes.
Lady Luck was on my side, however.
Upon graduation, I was assigned to the job of Assistant Legal Officer at the Little Creek Amphibious Base in Norfolk, VA. I prepared cases for Captain's Mast (a.k.a. Article 15), prosecuted Special Courts Martial and conducted investigations. So in the spring of 1969 I returned to Newport, this time to live in an apartment off base with my wife while attending legal classes on base. In six weeks' time I learned all I needed to know about the rules of evidence and procedures for carrying out military justice.
So no bullets whizzed by my head.
I never had to live in a tent or even go to sea.
My wife and I lived in an apartment only ten minutes from my office.
What's more, after only eleven and a half months' commissioned service,
the Navy informed me that I had three choices:
1. Go to sea immediately;
2. Transfer from Naval Reserve to regular Navy (which meant going to sea);
3. Leave active duty.
And so with only six weeks' notice,
I found myself looking for a civilian career.