By Linda L Barton
In January 2001, someone thought it would be a good idea for the Army to change its motto from Be All You Can Be to An Army of One. While it may have sounded like a good idea at the time to make the Army more welcoming for those who need to feel their own importance and individualism, In my opinion, it was a horrible idea. New recruits must realize they are now part of a unit, and not all about themselves.
This recruiting video was released to appeal to an all-volunteer Army, but such a mindset of those ready to wear the uniform could not be guaranteed always to have the desired effect. After the 9-11 attack on the USA, large numbers of brave Americans joined the different branches of the military. While most were sincere in their desire to serve, unfortunately, others were not so willing to give their all.
My husband and I were Owner/Operator truck drivers at the time of the 9-11 attacks. Like all Americans we watched the planes fly into the towers, and saw the aftermath of the attack on the Pentagon and the plane taken down by brave Patriots in that field in Pennsylvania. If you were old enough to understand what happened that day, I know the memory of what transpired is forever burned into your mind.
We were in Dallas that ill-fated morning, getting our load which would take us to JFK Airport not far from the Twin Towers. With the load needing to get there promptly, we took off and were shocked to see the smoke still billowing from where the towers had stood only two days before.
Then once former President Bush started sending our troops and equipment to Afghanistan, and after an extensive FBI background check, we began hauling their sensitive freight. If it went bang or boom, or you couldn’t talk about it, we hauled it. It was an honor to do our part in the war effort.
During our time going from bases to ports, we had the opportunity to meet many of our bravest. Their young, fresh faces and desire to destroy the enemy who murdered so many innocent people on that horrible day is forever in my memories. As a mom, I remember talking with them as we were loading their weapons and equipment, I wondered how many of them would come home. I would always hug them and tell them to please come home.
As the war went on, we began to see a change in some of those serving. I remember a particular time when we were loading a piece of equipment at Fort Polk in Louisiana. We had a step-deck trailer, so the deck wasn’t too high from the ground. The crane had already lifted the load up on the deck, so now it was time to secure it. My husband and I were getting the chains out of the side-box when we heard the Sargent tell one of the Spec 4’s standing there to get up on the trailer and help him with the chains.
Nothing could have prepared me for this young woman’s response. She walked up to the side of our trailer, placed her hands on the bed, grunted, pushed with her hands a couple of times and said, “It’s too hard. You do it.” Needless to say, I looked up at the Sargent and waited for the ass-chewing I knew was about to come… but it didn’t. His face only grew red and he clenched his jaw. You could see he was pissed, but he said nothing. When he looked down at us, you could see in his eyes that his hands were tied. We had heard the Clinton administration had made it so a superior officer couldn’t yell at a soldier, but we thought then-President Bush had done away with that practice. Apparently, that young Spec 4 could speak back to her superior officer without fear of punishment. I was shocked at how she had acted because I could get my big butt up on that trailer, and I’m a grandmother, not a soldier.
This, of course, did not sit well with my husband. Not being one to hold his tongue, he walked up to that worthless soldier, looked her directly in the eyes and said, “I sure wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with you and depend on you for my life because I’d die!” Of course, this brought wales and tears from the young soldier and a big smile from the Sargent. He was thankful my husband had dressed her down because he was not allowed.
I’ve always had respect for those serving in the military. My dad is retired Air Force, so I grew up on military bases. I remember one time when my mother needed to talk to dad about something, so we stopped by where he worked on the base. It was a hot day, but there was my dad out in the parking lot with two young soldiers standing at attention and Dad’s face mere inches from theirs and he was chewing them up one side and down the other. I don’t know what they did, but I bet they didn’t do it again.
I guess with United States Secretary of Defense, General Mad-Dog Mattis now in charge; he’s decided to bring discipline back to the Army. No more disregarding a direct order, no more Army of One, only discipline and doing one’s best as a unit. That’s what made our Army a powerful force. It wasn’t all about the individual. It was about being part of something larger than yourself.
I’m sure there are plenty of those who understand what makes the Army a force to destroy our enemies just like those wild and crazy Marines. I always loved hauling freight for the Marines. If you ever want to see a pitiful sight, watch the faces of those soldiers as you drive off with their weapons in a container. Talk about separation anxiety. I have so many stories of our time working with the military. Maybe I’ll share more in future articles.
It is long past due to bring old-school training back to the Army. There are dangerous forces in the world who would like nothing more than to kill you and me. Our only line of defense is a strong military, not a bunch of whiny, self-centered crybabies. It takes a special person to put on that uniform and be willing to lay down their lives for freedom. I just cringe to think of how a weak-link can cause unnecessary deaths of our bravest. They deserve only the best, and that means those serving beside them too.