July 31, 2006

Here's why...

The year was 1991. After 9+ years of military service in both the US Army Reserve and the US Air Force that spanned the intervention in the island of Grenada, the hunting of Manuel Noriega in Panama, the bombing of Libya, the fall of the Berlin Wall and culminated with the end of the Gulf War, I felt that the US was ready to enjoy the peace dividend.

During my last months in North Dakota I even took part on the security detail associated with portions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). It was surreal to see officers of the Soviet Union armed forces participating in a B-1 Bomber demonstration right at Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota. Two years before that, an entire class of nuclear weapons was dismantled and done away with in central Europe - medium range missiles like the US Army Pershing and US Air Force Ground Launch Cruise Missiles (GLCM). The Clinton administration and congress were cutting defense spending and the civilian sector was getting very lucrative and enticing.

I separated from the Air Force and dedicated the following 15 years to make a living from what had become my hobby in the military: computer technology. Then came 2001...

As an American, I reeled in horror and disbelieve when the Twin Towers fell in the state that welcomed me to the world. As an Information Technology professional I was already feeling the pinch of the Dot Com collapse in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. By the summer of 2002 the company that employed both my son and I was running out of cash and had already gone through a couple of rounds of layoffs. Paquito needed money for college and a break from school and the job market was not so hospitable fro 17 year olds with nothing more than high school. He decided to pursuit a three year contract with the US Army so he could see the world and get educational and financial benefits but really more so he could alleviate the economics of our household.

We began a physical training program to get a skateboarding teen that was never into sports or fitness and an aging computer programmer that was quite over weight and completely out of shape to achieve a minimum Army fitness standard. We pulled it off. Indeed back in the summer of 2002, I came very, very close to re-join the US Army. However, financial considerations kept me from it.

After Paquito was killed in action on March 20, 2005, I reconsidered the prospect of service, but it was too soon and I had to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons and not neglect a very tender Maria and Monica.

I have been quoted before by the Associated Press about my views on the decision to go into Iraq without the backing of the international community and all of our allies. Yet, I feel that I can no longer stand by the side line while the good name of our nation and our men and women in uniform is jeopardized by incidents of misconduct or questionable ethics. I am referring to incidents like these:

PFC Green

Marines in Haditha

There has been others and there may even be future ones, but my Son and the name and memory of our whole nation deserves better. Every time an incident like this happens I ask: Where were the Non Commissioned Officers (NCO)? What are parents teaching or forgetting to teach our young men?

Well, I could be like many others and voice or comment about my dismay, or if given the opportunity I could become part of the solution. During our elections, I certainly do my part to use our democratic system to effect the changes that I feel would be best for our elected leadership. However, being that there is also a role for the citizen soldier, I have decided to go for it. I am trying to get back into the US Air Force as a reservist.

That is the reason why I have been absent from a lot of the forums and communities that I normally partake of. I am back in a strict exercise and diet regiment to make sure that I will measure up to the Air Force's standards. I have also been dusting off old field manuals and reviewing skills like land navigation and small arms marksmanship.

I am an old timer but the young troops need guidance and experience. I as well as all of my friends and family want to see America's participation in armed conflict come to an end sooner rather than later, but for as long as our nation is at war we need to do things as right as humanly possible.

Joining any of the armed forces reserve components can still very well land you in a battle field, but if that does not happen and while not deployed it should just mean one weekend a month and fifteen days in the summer. The rest of the time I should be able to remain Paco the Mono enthusiast and computer geek you all have learned to live with :)

I thank all of you friends and family for the support you give my Martinez-Figueroa clan. God bless you all.

Posted by martinf at 05:37 PM | Comments (18)