This book is dedicated to my father and my son. To my father, because I always wanted to make him proud of me. To my son, so he can know what I did in the Army.
I recently began writing about my experiences in the military, because I’ve always been curious about my father's, my uncle’s and my grandfather’s Army service. My dad fought in the Korean War, my Uncle served in Vietnam and my grandpa served in France during WWI. Trying to research their stories after so much time had passed was tough. Google only went so far. So, I figured my pre-school son might also, one day, be curious to know what I did in the Army (including USAR and ARNG). That's why I wrote this.
After posting several stories, photos and links, it began to get more interesting and eventually turned into a book. I thought other people might enjoy it, not just my son. I may be wrong, but it seems like my career, although not a stellar one (not even close), could be in the top 10 most unorthodox of all times. If you read it, you may also agree.
I chose to name the book, "LIFER", because that's a common term in the military used to describe Soldiers who serve in the military for a long time until retirement. I designed the book cover to show all unit shoulder sleeve insignia (unit patches) of my assigned units, all medals I received and all branches of service for which I served. Both unit patches and branches are shown in chronological order and the medals are displayed in order of precedence as worn on the dress uniform.
I posted stories under each unit of assignment in a modified military memorandum format. I say, "modified", because the margins are only about a half inch, not one inch, as per AR 25-50. I thought the format seemed appropriate, considering I spent a great deal of my career typing memos and wanted to get a little more on each page than a 1-inch margin would allow.
I used the following color scheme for story separators and hyperlinks:
1. Dotted lines separate various stories within each unit of assignment and solid lines separate each unit of assignment.
2. Blue links go to websites, mostly Wikipedia.
3. Green links go to YouTube or other videos.
Speaking of colors, I've been a patriotic American my whole life. I grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school. I figured, if I used Old Glory's red, white and blue colors tastefully, they could make this a beautiful site. So, I researched the color scheme on Wikipedia and used the numbers from their table to create some of the colors you see on these pages.
The book talks about many of the unique things that happened during my 33 years in the military, including:
-locations and events in several U.S. States and foreign countries (military schools, vacations, overseas duty assignments and deployments to Iraq in 1991 and Macedonia in 1994).
-my training as a Cannon Crewmember, Personnel Administrative Specialist, Bradley Fighting Vehicle Infantryman, Watercraft Engineer, Food Service Specialist and Automated Logistics Specialist.
-jobs I held as a Cannon Crewmember, Human Resources Specialist/Sergeant, Graphic Illustrator, Watercraft Engineer, Heavy Construction Equipment Operator, Food Service Specialist/Sergeant and Readiness NCO.
-ROTC, two boot camps and multiple enlistments in the Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
Writing this book was both challenging and therapeutic.
Challenges: Reliving some events of my past was sometimes difficult, because there were some miserable times. Also, dealing with many problems I experienced on the wix.com website was a challenge.
After only a month or two using the wix.com site, something weird happened to my webpage where all the items, including pictures and text, became jumbled into a mess. I called Wix, but they didn't know what happened or how to fix it (some kind of glitch), so I spent several days reorganizing everything back to how it was. The problem certainly wasn't the result of something I did, I know that. It was such a big problem that I almost quit writing this book for fear it would happen again. I had so much time invested on this site, that I couldn't fathom starting over again from scratch on another web service.
After fixing the mess and adding considerably more content to my story, I maxed out the length of a webpage that Wix would allow. I had to break up all that content into more webpages, so I figured two more (3 chapters total) would be enough, but I was wrong. I ended up progressively adding three more pages (six total) and redistributing content between chapters. It was a very tedius and confusing process that took weeks. Again, this setback almost made me give up on the book.
Throughout the entire five months of posting my story on wix, I had frequent latency issues with the site, slowing me down so much, that it took me two to three times longer to post content. I had to constantly save my pages, because the website would often lock up and I'd lose all the work I had done after my last SAVE. I received long-running script error messages all the time. All these problems with Wix.com made my goal of posting my story so much more challenging.
Therapeutic: The therapeutic part was that I had a purpose, I stayed productive and felt like I was accomplishing something for my son while writing the book. I enjoyed researching my photos to find out more about each one. In the process, I learned a lot about several places I have been, things I didn't know at the time I was there. I used Google Web, Images, Maps and Translate, along with YouTube and Wikipedia to relive some interesting places and learn more about them. I really enjoyed virtual walk-throughs on Google Maps of the streets of Turin, Italy, and other places. It was almost like I was there again.
Unfortunately, my father passed away November 25, 2015 and was unable to read the book prior to his death. I hope my son enjoys this and hope you, the reader, do as well.
I'm always trying to improve, so if you have comments or suggestions, please click on the button below. I would love to hear from you.
LIFER QUALIFICATION RANGE
Keep your weapon pointed up and down-range at all times and watch your lane.
THANK YOU VISTA PIX MEDIA !!!
Many of the pictures I posted are digital images that Vista Pix Media scanned for me in May 2015 from over 45 rolls of 35-mm film that I sent them. After they scanned everything, they saved all the images (over 1,200) to a thumbdrive and mailed it back to me with all my film. I am very pleased with the end result and SO glad I went with their service. Without them, I would have 20 years worth of stories with no pictures to post on the site.
Prior to choosing this company, I thoroughly researched the internet to read reviews of scanning services and found Vista Pix Media had great reviews and was about the least expensive out there. After going to www.VistaPixMedia.com, I saw that the owner, who started the company, is an Air Force spouse. That, pretty well, sealed the deal for me, because I figured I could trust her with my pictures and she and her company did not let me down. All my film was scanned in the same sequence I requested. All the scanned JPEG images from each roll of film were put in a folder with the exact same name that I wrote on the film sleeves.
When I took the pictures in the 80s and 90s, I really wasn't very good at photography at all and a lot of the film I used was from cheap, disposable cameras. As a result, I wasn't expecting miracles, but I have to say, they did a great job and far exceeded my expectations. Anyone who is thinking about converting their old film to digital will not be disappointed with Vista Pix Media. They played a big part in the success of this book.