33 years ago today, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy! In some ways it seems like something in the dim, dark past; in other ways it seems like the blink of an eye ago.
I had a full paid music scholarship to attend a university 180 miles from home, but my Dad said that was too far for me to be from home at 17. He told me I'd be staying here and working and going to the "junior college" (now a community college). He had never encouraged any of the things I'd thought of pursuing, be it flying, or becoming a veterinarian (might as well go another year or two and be a real doctor) but he openly discouraged music. Since he had been a trumpet player (better than I was) I always assumed it was because his Dad (the minister) discouraged him; I never did find out why he felt the way he did.
I had been playing Taps at Navy funerals for several years, and was picked up at school by a recruiter to attend them and then returned. Of course my future was discussed, and he suggested the Navy Band if I couldn't take my scholarship. Seemed like a good idea to me, but that required a 4 year enlistment and since I was 17 Dad had to sign my papers. He would only sign for 2 years, so that was how I ended up a jet engine mechanic. The recruiter said "just do your two, then when you re-enlist you can sign for 4 and go on into Navy Music School"; by the time the end of 2 years rolled around I wanted nothing more to do with the Navy, even though I was obligated to play weekend warrior for 3 more years after I got off active duty. My attendance suffered accordingly and in proportion to my partying and riding motorcycles...
So I went from having Wichita be too far for me to go to college to spending Christmas of that year in the Philippines and bound for points further west. I don't know whether I showed Dad or he showed me!
I know I wouldn't trade any of it or my family and grandkids to know what might have been!