During the fall of 1969, I was in my second year of ROTC at the University of Missouri. I came to Mizzou as a graduate student and enrolled in ROTC after graduation from Western Michigan University. My draft board was located in Bowling Green, Ohio, and the expectation was if you were called (and if you were alive), you would go. I knew that if I were to go into the military, it needed to be as an officer.
When the lottery results were announced, I was No. 324. My younger brother, Ron, was No. 12. I could have dropped out of ROTC, but I felt a strong obligation to fulfill my duty. All of my grandparents were immigrants…three of the four fled eastern Europe/Russia due to religious persecution. Both my father and future father-in-law had served in the U.S. Army during World War II. It was my duty to serve my country, and I did so with pride. Ron received a medical deferment.
I am proud to say that I was an artillery officer, U.S. Army, 1971-1972. As a fire direction officer, we supported Vietnamese militia from little fire bases located 35-45 miles northeast to northwest of Saigon. I was awarded both a Bronze Star and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
The Army provided me with the opportunity to mature, to learn how to lead, and to understand how to listen. I credit my time in the Army for making me a better son, husband, father, and professional. And, the G.I. Bill paid for the Ph.D. program at The University of Toledo.
After seeing how little others have in this world, and realizing how precious freedom is, I have been thankful for my service and my experience every day since my discharge, March 25, 1972. Uncle Sam has always been better to me than I have been to Uncle Sam!