I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I don’t tell many people this one.
I didn’t join the Army because my Grandfather did. Not that it would have been a bad reason though. Private First Class Orson P. Forman was awarded two Bronze Star Medals for two distinct and valorous actions during World War II. He was, if you will pardon the military parlance, a bona fide badass.
He never talked about it and honestly, I never really knew about it until he passed away. I never knew he fought on the island of Attu in the Aleutian Islands until I was living on the street with the same name. It really would have been a fitting reason to join. It would have also been a lie.
The truth is far less romantic.
I joined the Army because of Star Trek.
More or less.
When I was young I was absolutely in love with that show. I watched every version of every show and even went to a few conventions. I drew little starships and created fictional schematics for warp nacelles (Go ahead, Google it. It’s a thing.) But what I really loved, was the leadership. Every member of the crew trusted on another, they were so loyal to one another, and they never quit on one another. Even when someone invariably went “bad” for 45 minutes, the rest of the crew knew that they could bring them back to the “good” in the last 15.
So it seemed only natural that I apply for an Army ROTC scholarship to pay for school.
You’re right. Now that I look back on it, I barely see the connection myself.
I told you it wasn’t romantic.
But I stuck it out, and somehow by the grace of something or other was commissioned as an officer in 2000.
That was two wars ago.
32 months of deployment time ago.
That was seven, good lord, seven household moves ago.
Nine different jobs in the Army, ago.
Too many friends I don’t get to drink with anymore, ago.
And I’ll be damned if it didn’t start with Star Trek.
I’m not sure if my wife and I had any idea how hard this was going to be. In point of fact, I’m fairly certain we were clueless.
She probably had no idea that our 4th Anniversary would be the first we spent together. Or that I’d have to leave for a year when our third child was 3 months old. Or that I’d ask her to put on hold every career opportunity she has ever had.
The kids are only now beginning to realize that most kids live in the same neighborhood ALL THE WAY THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL. They’ve been to three or four. They can compare cafeteria cuisine the way that Consumer Reports compares washing machines.
And every time one of my girls looks at me and asks “Why? Why are we moving again?” I wish I had something more romantic to say.
The present day truth of it though is a little better.
I feel like I’m pretty good at what I do. I feel like I understand the stakes every time I leave home. Now that I have some rank, I’ve tried to give others opportunities that I didn’t have when I was a young officer. I like to ask tough questions and watch others squirm. (What are they going to do, send me to Afghanistan? I’m already here.) And I like the fact that the girls have what they need and/or want.
And I love the fact that every one of my girls is tougher than a petrified wood stump. The Avengers have nothing on Team Forman.
It’s been anything but easy, and there were definitely times where I questioned just what in the hell I was thinking.
Those moments were usually followed by me smacking my forehead and wishing for a better story to tell when I’m asked why I did it.
Which is fine, because I think that when it’s all said and done, as a family we are writing a better one right now.