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
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 D.C.at 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
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
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
JFLK Inaugeral Address, January
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
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
If your life were a book, would anyone want to read it?
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.
is last thing needed By Devin Klose - Ketchikan, AK - USA
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