Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Joseph S. Hernandez
Active Korean War Veteran of Kimball 

A military veteran

 


My take of the definition of a Military Veteran is from experiences I have been through. A Military Veteran is a person, whether male or female, who voluntarily enlists, or is caught up, in the Draft. Not the NFL draft, the Man’s Draft, the one that during the time of war sent chills up and down the spines of any within the ages of 18 to 27; which was mostly used to fill the Army and Marine Corps ranks.

Once you’re in this big room and all the physicals and paperwork are done, this long line of hundreds of persons take a step forward and get sworn in to defend the Constitution and the United States against all foreign and domestic enemies. In a short order, you’re sent to a military base miles from home; and you are no longer a free person. You are government property for the duration.

You move into this large room known as barracks with 250, or more, people. In another short order, since I was Army Armored Infantry, I got this weapon called an M-1, and quickly got informed by our drill instructor to memorize a long serial number. We learned to take this weapon apart, reassemble it, and clean it by the light of day and the darkness of night. At about that same instance, our Commanding Officer tells us we will take good care of it and not lose it, etc., because it is not dispensable, but we are. All at the same time, or so, we are issued a brochure on Army etiquette and how to conduct ourselves while in the uniform in public. One thing that always sticks in my mind, is the fact that soldiers don’t walk with their hands in their pockets - a lesson I and two other buddies learned quickly. After we were off of restriction, we thought about going to Catholic Mass and visiting a Catholic Mission in town. As we were walking down this street towards the church, an Army jeep pulled up along the side of us and two guys, who was gung ho Army M.P.’s, jumped out, bad-mouthed us, and dressed us down and wrote up a delinquent report on us for walking down the street with our hands in our pockets. That little incident earned us extra KP after our other duties; and that all fell under the category of military discipline, to let us know we were government property. That’s why we had an hour every day of the Code of Military Justice read to us. That was to prepare and callous us for what may lie ahead. After seven months, I found out a two-week furlough at home were either mom and dad, or a wife and kids.

We had orders for a far off, distant land, to lay our lives on the line, and we would be free game and open season on us 24/7 by both hostile and friendly fire - especially at night. Anyone could have weapons. No permits needed - that is so these people could be free and to preserve our right and freedom at home. That’s called keeping 911 thousands and thousands of miles away off of U.S. soil. Though our 911 only lasted a few hours and was contained in a small area, the 911 from the 1st and 2nd World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and other wars lasted years. I would rather it be over there instead of the U.S. mainland. Even though some of us that may have had physical and mental scars from the conflicts made it back, others weren’t so lucky. For some, there weren’t even dog tags to send home, and from Korea there are still thousands who are unaccounted for.

Any other Veterans out there, feel free to add to this. Let your voices be heard. You had more than earned it. It is part of what we all fought for; therefore, take part in your liberties.

Though it was not easy, I am proud to have served.

 

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