A woman in uniform

In honor of Independence Day, I will grant you the freedom to giggle at the sight of me in uniform. I don’t have many pictures – and I definitely have more from my time in AFROTC than active duty – but these are the highlights.

In the summer of 1993, I went to field training. Four weeks in Spokane WA. An essential part of field training is called “Survival”, where you spend three days sleeping in a tent, eating MREs, and not changing your underwear. Then you do at least 300 pushups when you return, because “Survival” was a VACATION. My idea of fun, let me tell you.

Another essential part of field training, which I enjoyed significantly more than Survival, is called “JETO” – Jet Orientation – where you spend three days eating real food in real mess halls and laugh at the new enlistees and breathe in the wondrous, glorious humidity (you never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone) and even go SWIMMING in the base pool. And you get to jump through five million hoops, including pretending to eject, so that you can actually FLY AN AIRPLANE, and it’s the coolest fucking thing you’ve ever gotten to do in your entire life. Then you do at least 3,000 pushups when you return, because JETO really was a vacation. I’d do 3,000 pushups again right now to get another chance to fly.

Having made it through Field Training, I was officially the Corps Commander. Yes, that was the era of being called “Blank-blank-bitch”, mostly by another cadet whom I’d dated briefly and who had always been considered to be the heir apparent. Victory had never tasted so sweet as it did the night this picture was taken.

It was Dining Out, which is a formal dinner for everyone in the detachment – cadets and staff – and their guests. My guest was my boyfriend, a VMI cadet. He and I sat at the head table, and when the displaced heir tried to send my boyfriend to the grog (which meant he wanted him to go take a drink out of the ceremonial toilet bowl – I swear, I’m not making this up – I can see the looks on your faces from here), and I basically told him to sit down. Actually, that’s exactly what I said. In retrospect, I suppose it was akin to cutting off my boyfriend’s balls – sending them both to the grog would have been the spirited response.

I finally graduated and was commissioned by my father in Washington DC. He read the oath while my mother and Kyle pinned on my gold bars. My brother – who had enlisted in the Marine Corps – gave me my first salute, and I handed him a silver dollar.

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