The What Ifs….
I have had a few dreams since I got divorced about being in the military again.
I know it's not so strange to have weird dreams that recall the past, but these are more like dreams of a possible future.
I know I've had several but I only really recall with any amount of clarity a couple of them. Last night I had one that was a bad one and although I can only really recall partial glimpses of it, it was still one that has affected me.
The first one that I can recall was a really good one and oddly enough it made me feel good and also a bit sorrowful at the same time.
I had rejoined the military and was again a scout although since it had been a while since I had performed my duties a s a scout, I was forced to take scout training over again. It was naturally not at all how I remembered Ft. Knox, but it was a rewarding dream. I had graduated again and was able to retain my rank of Sergeant and some of my former buddies were in it. It was definitely a really "feel-good" type of dream. Perhaps an echo of the sense of loss I have felt ever since I re-classed as a Satellite systems operator. I never really felt the esprit-de-corps or the sense of brotherhood in the signal corps that I experienced in the cavalry. I have missed it ever since.
I have, admittedly, considered reenlisting many times since I ETS'd back in 2003. Especially in light of the fact I felt cheated in a way of not being able to participate in the Iraq Invasion as a scout and was stuck sitting on the border providing an internet link to the rear echelon command at Camp Virginia in Kuwait. I longed to be out there with my brothers and was constantly wondering how they were all doing. I know that at least a few of the guys I served with in the Cav were in the initial invasion. I thought about them an awful lot and wished I could be there to watch their back...or having them watch my back, such as the case might have been. To say that sitting on the border watching little blinking green lights for months was frustrating is an understatement. Getting a phone call from the general's TOC to drop everything and run for our non-existent bunker was irritating as well. It seems that despite having an "early warning" system to let us know of an incoming SCUD attack, the General's TOC always knew several minutes ahead of "the Voice" as it was dubbed ever sounded off, so all of us in the compound would get a phone call telling us to find cover. Our little section of satellite operators consisted initially of myself and my section Sergeant. We were kind of an afterthought and noone really knew what we did. We actually were collocated with our equipment and lived and worked in the same little tent for most of the time we were there. And we didn't ever get the time to go steal sandbags to build ourselves a bunker with. Our entire stock of sandbags was used to keep our tent from completely blowing away. So we were forced to duck in between shipping containers for cover…yeah not much cover really, especially with full battle rattle on. There was a sense powerlessness that came with each successive SCUD alert. At least as a combat arms soldier you had a small sense of some amount of control over your fate. Mostly you engaged the enemy with small arms or machinegun fire. So if you could keep your head down and shoot straight, there was some sense of control, however false it may be.
To get back to topic, the whole experience of OIF 1 was somewhat of a letdown. Couple that with the fact that I was to come home and realize I was a victim of Jody did nothing to raise my spirits. Not to mention the fiasco around my getting pinned for E-5. That is a story for another day.
So I suspect that first dream was a reflection of my longing for a happier time in my life, one that was rewarding and gave me a real sense of brotherhood.
Last night was a dream of a different color.
From what little I can remember, mostly images and partial conversations and emotions, I was again back in the CAV and was being put in a signal unit upon return from a deployment. Most of my gear was missing and I didn't even have a full set of PT's to wear. My Supply Sergeant was kind of like a Training NCO or something and I was arguing with him about being in signal unit. I can remember saying, "What part of 19D do you not understand?!" In retrospect that was a bit humorous, but in the dream I was incredibly angry, and frustrated. I also remember cussing about my (now ex-wife) cheating on me and demanding to be put back in a CAV unit. It was not a good dream, on the whole and it stirred up a lot of bitter emotions at a lot of things in my life that are probably best left washed away under the bridge. It's been a couple of years since I got divorced and even longer since I separated from the Army. Some things just stay embedded in our subconscious I guess. I still harbor a lot of resentment for the signal corps. My time there was one big nightmare. I think what really upset me was that from the time I signed the reenlistment contract to change MOS, things changed for me. My commander (who was a jackass anyway) black listed me and kept me form getting my spurs, despite having been in the unit for almost 3 years and shooting TopGun in the last gunnery. I was, and still am proud of my time as a Scout. To be honest, I still consider myself one. I have reflected on this before, but like "once a Marine, always a Marine", I feel that way about the cavalry. I will always be a scout. Those guys I served with will always be my brothers, even the ones that pissed me off…hehe. I have since broadened my scope a bit and I consider all service members my brothers and sisters.
As far as the true origins of my anger at the signal corps a little anecdote; As most soldiers know unit affiliation is voluntary and you can get affiliated with any unit you've served with. Well, my first unit was the 17th cavalry. We were E-troop, 3rd Squadron, 17th cavalry regiment (separate). And I wanted to be affiliated with them, so I put in a 4187 for my unit affiliation which took so long to process, that I forgot about it and ended up being involuntarily affiliated with the Army Signal regiment upon graduation from SATCOM school in Ft. Gordon. It was bad enough I had to trade in my sabers for semaphore flags, but they took away my right to unit affiliation…I was more than pissed off at this. That was what really planted the seed of enmity I think.
I guess there's a reason we call it "the good old days".