Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It Was In My Blood

I come from a long line of family members who served in the military and I'm proud of every one of them.

My father, Ray Ross "Smitty" Smith, Jr., served in the US Naval Reserves during World War II as an Aviation Machinist Mate 1 and was a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans.  He enlisted 5 Feb 1942 in Kansas City, Kansas, was sworn in 10 Feb 1942 and was discharged 29 Sep 1945.  

My grandfather, Linzie Sheldon Roberts, served in the Kansas State Guard during World War I in Company A, 26th Battalion under Captain John M. Garrison.  He was a corporal.  He served from 26 April 1918 to 28 Mar 1919.  

A number of my uncles also served and here are photos of some of them.

Arthur Franklin "Artie" Roberts
US Army, World War II, Private
30 Aug 1943 to 7 Dec 1944
Elbert Earl "Earl" Roberts
US Army, World War II
22 Aug 1942 to 20 May 1943
Walter Ray Roberts
US Army, World War I
8 Jun 1917 to 3 Feb 1919
Leo Undine Smith
US Army, World War II
1 Mar 1944 to 11 Jun 1946
Wilmer LaVerne Smith
US Navy, World War II
21 Oct 1942 to 8 Dec 1945
Ellis Wayne "Wayne" Smith
US Army, World War II
26 Mar 1941 to 26 Oct 1945
John Franklyn Smith
US Army Reserve
29 Jul 1962 to 29 Jan 1963
And then, there's me!!
Kansas Army National Guard
Larned, Kansas
17 Feb 1976 to 4 Dec 1981

Kansas Air National Guard
Wichita, Kansas
5 Dec 1981 to 29 Aug 1990
Battle Creek, Michigan
30 Aug 1990 to 30 Sep 2005

My Life Story: The Beginning of My Military Career

If you grew up in a small town, you know what I mean when I say that there isn't much of a future for someone unless they move out of that small town or go to work for the biggest employer around.  And small town Larned, Kansas was no exception.  The biggest employer in the area was the Larned State Hospital and I did not have an interest or the skill set to go to work there (Okay, you will see in a future blog post that I did eventually go to work at the State Hospital and I will also talk about other family members who also worked there at one time or another.)!

So, fresh out of high school in 1972, I went to work at the local newspaper, The Tiller and Toiler (I will talk more about this, as well, in a future blog) and small town life continued.

I was never really satisfied with the direction my life was taking.

Fast forward to 1976.  With my dissatisfaction continuing to grow I decided it was time to do something different.  And that decision left my parents in shock.  Shy, little me, making such a stupendous decision!  I'm not sure they thought I would go through with it or would make it through what was involved with the decision I made.  But, I proved them wrong!!

On 17 Feb 1976, I enlisted in HHB (-Det 1) 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard, stationed at the National Guard Armory in Larned, Kansas.  I was their first female enlistee!  (Just a side note:  I weighed 98 pounds at the time of my enlistment physical.  They had to put rocks in my pockets so that I would make the weight requirement for enlistment.)

I enlisted as a PV1 (E1) and was scheduled to go to basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina (not Fort Benning, Georgia as stated in the photo) on 30 July 1976.  I enlisted as a Personnel Records Specialist and because of my previous work experience I did not have to go to any technical training.  While I was at basic training I kept a diary and when I returned to work at the Tiller and Toiler, I wrote a series of articles on my experience that I will share in later posts.

Little did I know that the decision I made to join the military would have such a huge impact on my life!