Saturday, October 22, 2005

Right tools for the job?

I wasn’t your stereotypical Infantryman, I was raised to think and reason for myself, I went to an Ivy League college before volunteering. Warfare seems to be almost in my blood, my Native culture is steeped in warfare, my father and many uncles had all served time in different branches of the military. Just about every infamous unit in the U.S. military I had a family member in it at one time or another: 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne, 5th SOG/Green Beret’s, Navy SEALS, Navy Seabees, and onboard the USS Enterprise to name a few.

Growing up I read and studied all manner of warfare, even from a very early age I began to teach myself something of tactics and strategy. When I reached high school, I graduated towards the more sophisticated works of strategy, Sun Tzu, Lao-Tzu, Carl von Clauswitz, Mushashi and even Mackivelli.

My daily chores would resemble the regimental lifestyle of the military. My father was once a sniper, my mother use to shoot competition rifles, so I practically grew up with firearms. No joke, my earliest memories of shooting are from an age when most kids are still tying to figure out how to put the square peg in the square hole.

I also grew up living off the land, so the skills I learned shooting were applied to hunting. Not big game hunting where they find a tree stand and sit and wait for the game to come to them. No, I learned how to stalk game. A few years before volunteering, I put all the skills together on a hunt that I know I made my father proud.

At first light we pulled the skiff up the beach and I began the stalk. Picking up the deer trail was easy, following it up and down several mountains was a bit more challenging in the down pouring rain. Cresting a knoll, the light breeze shifted a few points and I could smell the deer we were that close. Unfortunately a bear beat us to the kill, we back away from him and left the area.

Physical training wasn’t anything new to me either. I wrestled in high school but didn’t start until I was a sophomore, up until that point I didn’t know a thing about wrestling. Through hard work and dedication I was made team captain and competed at the State level by the time I was a senior.

At Dartmouth, I joined the crew teams, having rowed boats around the docks in Alaska, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to row them with other people helping. Boy was I wrong, that was some of the most physically challenging work I had ever done, but I stuck with it. By the end of winter training, the varsity coach was looking forward to me being on the varsity team the following year, knowing all the extra time I would put in on my own above and beyond normal training.

So there I was, almost made for warfare as a sword is, in the hands of individuals who couldn’t see how to put my skills to use rather that those skills were a threat to their moving up in rank.


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