Friday, June 3, 2016

Re-Enlisting In a Parade: Army Love

In the early 80s, I was a tank commander in the 68th Armor, a reserve unit in Reading, Pa.  We trained at Fort Indiantown Gap, but had a couple of M60A1 tanks and other vehicles in an armory in the city of Reading.

Each year, the 68th put a vehicle or two in the parade through downtown.  Like most reserve and guard units, members of this unit were neighbors and some were life-long friends.  The year I joined, everybody was talking about one of the gunners in the unit who re-enlisted in spectacular fashion the year before.

Billy loved tanks, loved the unit and wanted nothing more than to be a gunner.  He had served four years on active duty, then came home in 1978 and served two years in the 68th Armor.  He wanted to re-enlist, but his wife insisted he get out.  So he left the Army in 1980.  The following summer, in 1981, Billy came to the parade with his wife and young son.  A dozen members of the 68th were riding in the back of a deuce-and-a-half truck, waving at the crowd.  They saw Billy and all started yelling.

Then his best friend said, "C'mon Billy!  Jump in!"  His wife was furious.  Billy looked at the slow-moving truck, at his wife, the jumped the barrier and ran to the truck.  A dozen hands pulled him up and beaming Billy re-enlisted the following week.

Faith in the Military: Chaplains During the Cold War and the Current Wars

Army Chaplain with Armor Unit In the Cold War Army of the 1970s, the Protestant Chaplains were very different men...