SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



The Draft- Another View
By Jerry Cegelske


April 06, 2006

It was with great interest that I read Devin Klose's letter on the draft. Why should he be inconvienced when nobody else has ever been? (at least in his short life) I can certainly emphathize with him on that. He's young, graduating from high school and has plans to conquer the world, get a permanent job and buy that new truck. Didn't we all at that age? Driving the main drag, 32 cent gas, muscle cars- we were "American Graffiti"! I wanted a 57 Chevy (used) and I had plans also! That was before my parents asked me how I was going to take care of my military obligation. Although I was not drafted, the draft influenced my future (in a positive manner). I avoided the draft and have a DD214 that says I did it in an "Honorable" manner. When I went to register for the draft when I was almost 19, the lady asked why I didn't earlier, and I said I was busy. Only when I told her I enlisted in the Air Force did she gain her sense of Ha Ha! As it turned out later- much later- I would be "drafted", and inconvienced when I had plans, a house to take care of, was over 50 and had children who worried I would be killed.

Last May I went to a reunion in Reno, Nevada, and Bill Hawes was there. He had a baseball cap on that had the word Nevada on it, and I asked if we could talk later about it. He said sure. When we talked, he started his ball cap story with being abandoned by his mother at birth, about being at a religious school until the funds his grandfather used to keep him there ran out in the depression. His father picked him up and they moved to Chicago where Bill joined the Navy and was transferred to Bremerton, WA. From Bremerton his ship was then permanently transferred. One Sunday morning he was waiting at the bottom of stairs in his dress white shorts waiting to take crewmen to shore for Sunday services when he heard chains rattling on deck and a crewman came running down the stairs yelling they were under attack. Bill and his crewman went to their battle stations and were five decks below when the first of two torpedos threw them about the ship. That night he stood guard duty on the ship as it was resting on the beach after having been grounded. His ball cap read, "Pearl Harbor Survivor, U.S. S. Nevada". The chain he herd rattling were machine gun bullets hitting the deck as the Japanese attacked.

In July I met with a highschool classmate who told me about his son who had enlisted in the Air Force. Davin was trained in EOD explosive ordinance disposal (being around things that go BOOM) and as a weapons system tech. Ray told me that when Davin was tested on the weapons system, his sargeant used the manual and went by the book, which I though was unusual. One morning a few years ago Davin got a phone call from his captain who told him to get to the aircraft hanger NOW! Davin went around the traffic in the civilian lane as it was backed up. When he got to the gate where his captain told him to drive to the hanger (usually illegal).

Davin was told to load the aircraft and he asked them how they wanted it. They replied "Hot" (live weapons). As each plane was loaded it took off. Later when they came back he unloaded them. For about the next month Davin didn' t leave the hanger because he was the only one that knew how to load and unload the aircraft. He slept on a cot and had food brought to him. Davin never saw his sargeant or lieutenant again. I think they were removed as the sargeant didn't know how to load the plane and the Lt. had said he did, on the sargeant's performance evaluations. I forgot to tell you that Davin was stationed at Andrews AFB outside Washington, D.C. and the date he was called was September 11, 2001. Think, that lone airman was one of the most important people in that time. If a Senator didn't do his work today, he can tomorrow, if Davin didn't do his work, more people in D.C. could have been killed that day, along with those at the Pentagon if things were somewhat different.

As a sidebar to history, Davin's grandfather was also in the Air Force, the U.S Army 8th Air Force as a B-17 pilot. He was shot down over Germany and was in a prisoner of war camp. He managed to escape and flew again, only to be shot down again. He remained in the POW camp until liberated by the Russians. Impatient to get home, he and others commandeered a plane and flew it to South America where he continued his way home.

I worked as a Federal law enforcement officer and was "drafted" because the only other Agent available was moving into a house, had a pregnant wife and three small children. I was told to pack my bags and that I would be gone for six months but they didn't know where. At that point I could quit my job or pack my bags and go. Since I am somewhat of an adventurous type, I packed my bags and flew to Ft. Dix, NJ. I received a weeks "training" followed with a job assignment.

My job was to protect property and people, basically ensuring that the commerce of the United States continued in as normal a fashion as possible. We were up at 4:30 at work at 6 checking for bombs and weapons, checked people, then had the most difficult task of waiting for something to happen, when I would really go to work. In the afternoon we repeated the process sometimes ending at 1:30 in the morning only to repeat the process at 6 again. We were told we could not sleep but on several occasions I woke up with a book in my lap because I was exhausted. I was more afraid of the people around me that would be the "John Wayne" type, especially after I read in the paper comments such as were made by one guy that said" You almost want something to happen so you can take action." That was all I needed, someone to wake up during the 5th inning of the ball game who wants to kill the umpire! Most people will never experience the heartfelt thanks from the people that knew who I was, worked with and protected in those days, that I received.

In my travels I flew around the U.S. and it was on a flight when I overheard the captain tell the attendants that should hi-jackers take the plane, they needed to do everything they could to stop the hijackers, even to death, as it didn't matter if they died- the F-15 and 16's would shoot them down anyway. Not what you want to hear on a plane supposed to deliver you safely to your destination.

On one of my trips I was in Washington D.C and stood on the ground below the flight path of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. I saw the devastation done to the building, even as some of it was being repaired. Not one of the people killed there that day expected it to happen. Later I saw the Marine Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknowns and I walked the fields of Arlington National Cemetary. I looked at the dates that the people died and wondered at the sacrifice that each had made, some small, while others gave everything for this nation. From the Revolutionary war, the Civil War, WW I & II, Korea, and Viet Nam, from President to private, the history of this nation is buried there.

Later that night after dinner, we stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the dark and then walked to the Viet Nam Memorial where I took paper and pencil and traced the name "James Wolter" from the wall, the name of a high school classmate who threw himself on a grenade to save his buddies.

It is the citizen-soldier among us that helps to fight the evils of the world. You may laugh at the word evil, but I know they exist and have to be fought. How do I know? My father told me, he smelled it, and in his own way showed me part of what he fought for. As a soldier in Patton's 3rd Army, my father was in on the liberation of a concentration camp in Germany. They stopped a mile and a half from the camp which they could smell from that distance. His sargeant went to the camp and came back, when my father tried to go the Sgt. ordered the men not to go, as he had seen enough horror for their lifetimes as well as his. When I was ten my father took me to the movie "Mien Kampf" which was about how Hitler killed the Jews. I still remember the pictures of warehouses of luggage, womens hair that was shaved from their heads, of jewelry, jaws taken for the gold teeth, and other items stolen from them. Didn't Sadam gas the Kurds?

We have become so insulated in our own little world, from the real life in the world, that we no longer see the danger and evil or have we just become so callused?

It will be a very sad day when the American people make a liar out of a beloved President who said:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge -- and more.

JFLK Inaugeral Address, January 20, 1961

Prior to D-day on a training exercise off the English coast, 4000 men died. What did the presidential polls say about Roosevelts popularity? It did not deter this nations drive to stop Hitler, D-day was not put off.

President Kennedy also gave a prophetic warning to be heeded:

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation,"" a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

JFK Inaugeral Address, January 20, 1961

I have often wondered why when the Veterans march in a parade, they don't have a young man marching with them to show how old they were when they started their service to their country. Tom Carlin was 16 when he was in the Marines and fought the Japanese at Guadacanal. He showed more courage at 16 than I can ever claim to have had. It was not until I read his obituary that I knew what he had done for the people of this nation and for me! I am grateful that there are men like him, Bill Hawes, Davin and his grandfather, James Wolter, and my father willing to risk their lives to ensure my freedom and the freedom and liberties enjoyed by my children and this nation. An Borough Assemblyman served on "Big Ben, the USS Benjamin Franklin- the most damaged aircraft carrier to survive WWII. Not everyone can be blessed with the duty, honor and priviledge to defend this nation.

To my knowledge, never before have we been in a war when we asked our men and women in uniform to be ready to shoot down a plane with 300 innocent men, women and children, their fellow Americans (remember Davin loading missiles and the airline pilot?). Never before have I seen the fear in the eyes of the common people as I did post 911. It is the American military and the public servants that serve this country in a thousand different ways that take the burden of that fear upon their shoulders.

It is my hope that Mr. Klose has the life he has planned with no inconviences like the draft and that he does not have to put his life on the line, as that will probably mean that my children, and the children of thousands of other Americans will not have to risk their lives to do more to defend this country than they are now. He disagrees with the war but there were people that disagreed with the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WW I&II, Korea, Viet Nam and all the skirmishes between, but honorable men and women have answered the Nations call to duty to free us and to keep us free. A draft is not a horrible thing, but one of the ways to deal with the horrible things faced by this nation in difficult times. In these times, war and death may come to anyone, uniform or blue jeans, no matter what their plans are.

If your life were a book, would anyone want to read it?

Jerry Cegelske
Ketchikan, AK - USA


About: Jerry Cegelske comes from a citizen-soldier military family. Eight men in the family from three generations have served or are currently serving, two as a career.

Related Viewpoint:

letter Draft is last thing needed By Devin Klose - Ketchikan, AK - USA


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