RANGER AGAINST WAR: Long Ago and Far Away <

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Long Ago and Far Away


I would have given you all of my heart
--The First Cut is the Deepest
, Cat Stevens


You're only dancing on this earth

For a short while

And though your dreams may toss

And turn you now

They will vanish away

--Oh, Very Young, Cat Stevens

_________________

It seems like such a long time ago that I was a young trooper signing into CoA, JFK Special Warfare Center. It was 31 Dec 1969 and I was Temporary Duty Assignment (TDY) en-route to the 5th Special Forces Group, Republic of Vietnam (RVN). The TDY was Special Forces Officer Class.

My Army sojourn was 18 months old at that point, and three months of training were in order prior to my deployment. I volunteered for Special Forces and for RVN service after having served in a line Division in the Federal republic of Germany (FRG) as both a reconnaissance and the 4.2 Mortar Platoon leader.

Since I was an Infantry Officer by choice rather than chance, the duty in Europe was a real eye-opener. After 18 months of Army life it was evident to me that the Army ate its young – both officer and enlisted – and Ranger’s volunteering for SF was motivated by one factor alone: Line Infantry was not conducive to long life.

Of course in those days, neither was SF duty, but the difference was that The Green Machine and its flagpole was further away in SF than it was in the Infantry. After that initial 18 months, SF seemed a more personal environment in which one might jump less obstructedly through the Army hoops (hoop jumping being a requirement for all.)

SF duty lasted from 31 Dec 1969 to 2 Mar 1971, at which time Ranger returned to Continental U.S. (CONUS) duty with the 3rd Ranger Company at Ft. Benning, which was exactly the epicenter of Infantry thinking.

What did a young Lieutenant learn and was it worth the ride? I learned that the Army would spend shit-buckets full of money to create a combat leader and soldier, with the result being an expendable replacement unit in an assembly-line of violence and death.

The dawning of the realization of this mundane truth still startles me. The reality was accepted so casually then, yet now it seems surreal (remember that I am speaking Infantry, not Combat Support or Combat Special Support).

Ranger was a volunteer for Infantry, the Regular Army, the Airborne, Ranger and SF with a 5th Group assignment, on a clear trajectory to being another character in a future movie about a war. Yet it was not to be. Death rode a pale horse while we wore the Green Beret, and the fates were playing with my life somewhere beyond my control.

After all of this training, sweat, sprains, twists and misery I was assigned to B-53 / 5th SF Group – a safer place to inhabit this earth than was growing up in Eastside Cleveland. The gods obviously had a plan for one dumb LT and now I recognize this destiny. I was selected to present the long-term interpretation that you the reader are subjected to daily at RangerAgainstWar.

For this function I did not volunteer but was selected by forces larger than any of us. It has been a long ride and it is my hope that my writings make the journey a bit more comprehensible and less painful to a new generation of soldiers.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

ghost song...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:01:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

GD,
i cannot access this link.
so sorry. i wanted to here your offering since this entry was so personal.
jim

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

GD,
change here to hear.
jim

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

yes... what u wrote was a  haunting... ghost song

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:42:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

Great post and that's why we read you Ranger. Keep up the good work !

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 9:45:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you Jim.

You know sometimes your posts piss me off because I don't want to agree with your perspective - it's a conditioned knee jerk response to certain topics on my part - but there it is, the truth, presented with almost maniacal simplicity and clarity. And there's no dodging it, the way you put it.

It occurs to me, based on your last paragraph, that I should recommend your blog to a certain other (still) young Lt that I know.

Please keep on doing what you do.

avedis

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 10:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

avedis,
google CSM teresa l king. army times 29 dec 11.
my art. of 7 dec 2009. follow up coming.
i bet this will resonate with you.
jim

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 10:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Avedis,
i pointed this CSM out b/c she's been suspended from duty pending an investigation.
scuttlebutt says she was not dipping her pen in gov't ink,BUT quite the opposite.
if you'll remember BG janis karpinsky-the press claimed that she was SF.maybe women are in the psyops/intel functions. i really don't know these days.
i thot all this would interest you.
jim

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 7:33:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Juan Moment said...

"I learned that the Army would spend shit-buckets full of money to create a combat leader and soldier, with the result being an expendable replacement unit in an assembly-line of violence and death."

Great line Ranger. Somehow your entry reminds me of Lou Reed's Xmas in February.

May the force that made you write about your experiences be with you for decades to come.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 3:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ranger,

I appreciate your blog. This post in particular resonated with me. I served from 1965 thru 1973 first as a 11B and then a 1542. I can attest to the truth of what you say. I hope others take it at face value.

Please keep up the good work. You are saying things that a lot of us feel but do not have the facility with language that you have so very often things do not get said.

I do not always agree with you but, once in a while, I don't even agree with myself.

Best to you and yours.

BillD

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 4:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Bill D,
yep 1543.
what a way to go.
jim

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 5:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

xmas in february... worth repeating

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 6:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

BillD,
correction. typo.
1542.
jim

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 9:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

to all.
re;BillD,
11b is the mos for infantrymen, enlisted. usually called -eleven bush.
the 1542 is the officer equivalent.
later in the 70's the officer mos for infy became 11a.
mos=military occupational specialty.
i thought some of you out there would need clarification on this comment.
jim

Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 10:38:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

to all.
re;BillD,
11b is the mos for infantrymen, enlisted. usually called -eleven bush.
the 1542 is the officer equivalent.
later in the 70's the officer mos for infy became 11a.
mos=military occupational specialty.
i thought some of you out there would need clarification on this comment.
jim

Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 10:38:00 AM GMT-5  

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