Friday, August 03, 2007

Words Mean Something

Forty-five years ago today I took the Oath of Enlistment at the Armed Services Induction Center in Oakland, California, and began a twenty-one and a half year adventure in the US Air Force.

"I, Michael Bruce Combs, do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America; that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies whomsoever; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Just over six years later I took the Oath of Office as an officer in the Air Force.

"I, Michael Bruce Combs, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."

In 1991, seven years after I retired, I packed my Air Force dress uniform and went to Germany on a vacation with Alice. While there I administered the Oath of Enlistment to re-enlist my oldest son, Bruce, for another six years in the Army.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Evelyn, Bruce, Alice and I, and Leaha and Melicia at Bruce's Army reenlistment, Germany, 1991

“I, Bruce Allan Combs, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The Oath

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Salute from the proud father

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Certificate of reenlistment

About six years later, Bruce was stationed in Ft. Polk, Louisiana. We visited with Granddaughter Ashley as Bruce and his wife celebrated their Tenth anniversary with a ceremony to rededicate their marriage vows. Bruce cleverly had me wear my dress uniform to his unit headquarters before the ceremony, and happily surprised me by having me re-enlist him again.

Forty five years doesn’t seem that long ago. I vividly remember my first night in the Air Force in an old two-story, single-wall barracks at Lackland Air Force Base. Our barracks, and many identical buildings on Lackland, were left over from World War II, and had been condemned years before.

There I lived for eight weeks of Basic Training, and then for another six weeks on Casual Status awaiting assignment to Indiana University for Russian language training. It was the start of a very enjoyable and satisfying Air Force career.

But my first night there, 3 Aug 62, lying on my military bunk, still wearing civilian clothes, sweating, too tired to fall asleep, worrying about what the next day might have in store, I wondered, “What am I doing here?”

In that Lackland barracks, on that hot August night, I wasn’t the only wonderer.

Those old, condemed barracks were still in use six years later when I went to the Medina Annex of Lackland Air Force Base for Officer Training School (OTS).

During my three months at OTS I lived in a two-man room in a dormitory instead of an open-bay barracks.

However, I started OTS the first week of July, 1968, so it got as hot as Basic Training six years earlier.

It brought back memories, but even on that first night back, tired and sweating profusely again, this time I didn't wonder why I was there.

No comments: