Coming Clean About My Military Service

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In light of all the political accusations these days about who has served in the military, who was AWOL and who managed to avoid serving at all, I think that itís prudent for me to come clean about my service record. Indeed, Iíve already released some of the details to my grandchildren, who happen to think that Iím more than qualified to be an ideal Presidential candidate.

††††† They have reason to be impressed. Unlike some of the insupportable claims currently being made by candidates and their supporters, I can state, without fear of contradiction, that during my two years in the military, I engaged in physical combat, was burned while successfully fighting a roaring fire, served in General MacArthurís Easternmost Command, and heard shots fired in anger.

†††††† Thatís enviable, I know, and Iím loathe to go into details, but full disclosure seems to be the honorable route. Here goes. In 1944, when I was 17, I enlisted in the Navy and was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station where, among other boot camp conditioning techniques, I learned how to swim and to box. Indeed, I felt I was well on my way to becoming my companyís lightweight champion, when I was knocked senseless by a lucky punch in the second round of my first fight. So much for physical combat.

†††††††† Then, in an exercise designed to simulate fighting a shipboard fire, I was assigned to be nozzle man on a hose deployed by five sailors and to direct a powerful stream of water at the base of a roaring oil fire. Struggling with the writhing hose, I lost my concentration, moved too close to the fire, aimed at its base, put it out, but paid the price: singed eyebrows. All in the line of duty, mind you, but no one even mentioned rewarding me with a Navy Cross or other decoration.

†††††††† Having survived boot camp, I was transferred to radar school on Treasure Island, a man-made tract adjoining Yerba Buena Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Now I felt that I was serving directly under Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the Pacific Theater. The waters of the Pacific, you see, flow under the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and swirl around Treasure Island. Mac Arthurís Easternmost waters, to be sure, but Pacific waters nonetheless.

†††††††† Further adventures awaited. Having been promoted to Electronic Technicianís Mate third class I, with several buddies, was assigned to work on the Navyís radar installation station atop Yerba Buena Island. While we were troubleshooting a faulty radar one day, someone said, ďWas that a shot?Ē We rushed to a window overlooking the Bay, heard more shots but couldnít see anything out of the ordinary. Turning to a working radar, we set it for close range, and on the screen immediately spotted little white dots circling nearby Alcatraz Island. There had been a jailbreak from Alcatraz, the white dots were police boats, and someone was shooting at someone else, shots obviously fired in anger.

†††††††† So much for my record in the military. Letís hope that Iíve set an example for the candidates, whom I urge to do away with evasion, obfuscation and denial and come clean about their service to our country.†††††††††