Learning handy skills while defending the US


When I joined the US Army in 1961 it had a lot of attractions for a young man of 17.  First off, it didn’t involve going to work in a moly mine in Questa, New Mexico.  Secondly, it was the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and I naturally hoped I’d get an opportunity to kill me some young Russians to defend this country.  Thirdly, the recruiter promised they’d teach me some skills I’d find useful in civilian life.

Eventually I learned that moly mine mightn’t have been a bad idea.  Never got to kill me any Russians, neither.  Never defended this country worth nuthun.  And thirdly, the only skill I learned that might have helped me as a civilian was how to kill a man by hitting him in the face with an entrenching tool.  A lot of years have passed since then, but I’m still hoping to put that entrenching tool thing to use.

Fact is, that like the US troops who served in WWI, the Spanish American War, the Mexican War, and all the US Army who fought the Apache, the Comanche, the Cheyenne along with dozens of other tribes, we were not ‘defending’ this country.  Until WWII a person would have to go back to the Civil War and include the soldiers fighting for the Confederacy to locate someone defending his country.

Well, I suppose you could say the Mexican soldiers who fought against the US in the Mexican War were defending their country.  And the Apache was defending his, and so on.

But those serving in the US Army were doing something else, entirely.

Care to guess what it was?

11 responses to “Learning handy skills while defending the US

  1. Here’s a good memoir of a young Spaniard who joined the Spanish army in the 1500s to defend his country from the Aztec, much as I joined the US Army in 1961 to defend the US. The eye witness history of the Conquest of Mexico written by one of the lieutenants of Cortez. Free download.


  2. I was first introduced to this way of thinking by Mark Twain’s writings on the Philippine actions and the Spanish-American war. Later, The works of Mari Sandoz shed some more light on things.

  3. When talk of war comes up, all I can think to ask is, “What the hell is war good for other than a money-making machine on the backs of innocent young men, killed while somebody BIG is getting richer.

    • LCTC!: Well, that’s true if you take the narrow view. But we have a lot fewer Mexicans living in Texas, Arizona, California, Colorado, etc, than we’d have if we hadn’t invaded Mexico and took it away from them at the points of rifles, bayonettes and artillery. Imagine all the US Immigration Service employees who’d have been put out of work if we hadn’t done that. And for that matter, think of all the Rez casinos we couldn’t enjoy if we hadn’t gone to war with the tribes and bunched them up on reservations. The curio shops and hamburger joints along the Interstates that wouldn’t be able to employ people to flip hamburgers and sell Asian-made tomahawks. War’s always been good in the broad perspective.

  4. I remember 1961 very well, since it is the year that I graduated high school. I went on to college for a couple of years and some of my class mates when on to Vietnam and got themselves killed. I like my choice better. (grin) I tried to stay in the ROTC in college and graduate a 2nd Lewy but after two years of it they kicked me out because I had had rheumatic fever twice when I was a kid. I tried to tell them that it was romantic fever, but they didn’t believe me.

  5. Holy Mother Oil and/or population control?

  6. What’s “moly?” Molybdenum?

    • Yep CBC, they spang made a molehill out of a mountain there beside the Red River. Now the thing washes down and kills fish from there to Questa every snowmelt with a rain atop it.

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