I had an older brother who had been drafted into the military during the Vietnam War. Sadly he is no longer with us so I am able to tell this story.
I was 17 in the summer when he came back to visit us from his base after completing basic training and being assigned his job.
He suggested that there were many interesting things to see on and near the base and that I should come up to stay with him. He had a van and he suggested that I could stay in it on the base. I was near his size and he would loan me one of his uniforms to wear so that I might wander a little.
He gave me a uniform to wear while I was there so that I could go to the chow hall to eat and hang with him or his buddies while he was at work. It fit very nicely.
As we arrived back at the base after I had agreed to this adventure, I had no idea what the consequences might have been if things went awry. I see them very clearly, now. Yes a bit late to say the least.
Things went smoother than one might expect as we pulled up to the entry gate and were waved in. We arrived at his barracks and parked in the nearby parking lot that was to be my home for a week or so.
My brother was very inventive when it came to making side money while in the service. He gave haircuts, loaned money and ran a few other interesting schemes. All of them went undetected.
I must mention that I was blissfully unaware that what I was doing was a big no no.
The worst thing that happened was that one of his fellow soldiers had parked nearby the van that I was sleeping in and he had his girlfriend with him. I had the light on in the van and was reading. This interfered with his romantic plans for the evening.
I heard about that in the showers the next day from a very large and angry fellow. Thankfully he didn’t know it was I sleeping in the van as I stood near him washing under the strong blast of hot water and steam.
I must say that the food was very good there and of ample quantity. The tax payers money was being well spent as far as I could tell. There was a fine ping pong table for me to use to while away the hours as my brother worked. I met many new friends.
My brother and I would meet up after he got off work and go into town to see the sights. It was a fine adventure.
I must say that I am always surprised when I look back at the things my parents let me get away with. Perhaps they thought that I wouldn’t get away with them and would learn some valuable lessons along the way.
Interestingly, we had no problems on this short vacation for me and I returned home from my short stay in the military without spending a week, month or years in the brig.
We meant no harm and I told no one about whatever military objectives there might have been there. I was more interested in the food and the nurses working around us.
Such was the view and interests of a seventeen year old young man.
I was refused entry into the U.S. Military for health reasons a few years later, but I love to remind my wife, a veteran, that I too spent some time in The U.S. Military.