My Life as a REMF (Rear Echelon… “Military Fellow”)

In preparation for a Civil Service retirement ceremony, some of my former co-workers asked for a “bullet-form” CV/Bio of my slightly more than 44 years of uniformed and civilian service to the U.S. Army and Dept. of Defense, to be used in the “program” for the ceremony.

As I was preparing it; I found that the things I felt were important about my years of service were more than could go on a “one-pager”, so I expanded the bullets to go beyond the usual “Ain’t I cool” kind of Bio, to tell what was going on beyond and behind the “good stuff”.

You see, for the first 18 years or so of this period, I was often NOT a very good soldier, or a very good human being, for that matter. 

Among the reasons -- not the excuses, mind you, as only I am responsible for the choices I made -- choices which harmed the people around me, and me –- among the reasons for my sometimes profoundly wrong actions – were:

  • PTSD, from growing up in a home where alcoholism triggered violence and other abuse – I had bones broken in the name of “discipline”.
  • Chronic depression with episodic profoundly depressive times.
  • Ironically, but predictably, my own alcohol and other drug abuse as self-medication for my PTSD and other issues, which grew into alcoholism.
  • My obsession with gratification of women, something that seemed to help me overcome depression-related feeling of general inadequacy and incompetence.

One night in a barracks room inside a Quonset hut on Camp Casey, Korea, God touched me and moved me to seek help – other soldiers gave it, and not to long after that I stumbled my way back to the foot of the Cross, where I had once come as a child, with a child’s simple faith.

I’ve grown in faith and understanding since that time, which is why I thought I should share the “long form” details of my journey with others – it might help someone, and that’s more than worth my “privacy”.

Short Form:

  • JAN 13, 1971, enlisted (RA) U.S. Army, from Wichita/Haysville, Kansas
  • JAN-MAR, 1971, Basic Training, Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri
    • Graduated Basic as a PFC.
  • APR-SEP, 1971 – AIT -- Army Security Agency (ASA), Ft Devens, MA – flunked out, so…
  • SEP 71-MAR 72 – Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, for training as a Clerk-typist and then, because of academic excellence, as a Personnel Management Specialist.
    • Left Ft. Leonard Wood as a Specialist (E4)
  • MAR 72-JAN 74 – 1st  AG & Finance Company, 1st Infantry Division
    • “Made” Specialist Five (E5) in NOV 72.
  • JAN 74 -JAN 75 – TUSLOG Det 169, Sinop, Turkey.
  • JAN 75-APR 78 – 1st AG Co, 1st INF DIV).
  • APR 78-APR 81 – 8th AG Co., 8th INF DIV.
  • MAY-AUG 81 – Defense Information School (DINFOS) Basic Broadcast Course.
    • Class Leader
    • “Made” Staff Sergeant (SSG-E6)
  • AUG 81-AUG84 – Public Affairs Office (PAO), U.S. Army Signal & Science Center and School, Ft. Gordon, Georgia.
  • SEP 84-DEC 86 – Chief Announcer, Southern European Broadcasting (SEB) Detachment, Camp Darby, Italy.
    • Made Sergeant First Class (SFC-E7)
  • JAN 87-APR 88 – NCOIC, U.S. Army Armor Center and School PAO, Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
  • APR 88-APR 89 – Chief Announcer and "Acting" First Sergeant, American Forces Korea Network (AFKN), Seoul and Commandant, AFKN North.
  • May 89-APR 91 – PA NCO, PA NCOIC, U.S. Army Armor Center and School PAO, Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
  • APR 91-JAN 93(Retirement) – Operations Sergeant and “Acting” First Sergeant, Southern Command Network (SCN), Ft. Clayton, Panama.
  • JAN 93-SEP 97 -- Full-Time Student, Panama Canal Branch – Florida State University
    • Part-time Non-appropriated Funds (NAF) employee, U.S. Army South. (USARSO)
    • Contractor to USARSO, teaching the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Experienced Rider’s Course to the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen of SOUTHCOM.
  • SEP 97 -- returned to the U.S.A. with the USSOUTHCOM HQ move to Miami.
  • APR 98-FEB 2015 - Public Affairs Specialist, USSOUTHCOM Public Affairs Office.

For years, when asked about My retirement plans, I’d reply: “I’ll retire when they carry me out.”  Well, Friday evening, the 5th of September, 2014 – EMTs carried me out of the building… so…

 


 

Long Form (“…warts and all.”)

 

(Dad [Korean War Vet] said “DON’T join the army or the Marines…” so, being 18…)

 

  • JAN13, 1971, enlisted "Regular Army"
  • JAN-MAR, 1971, Basic Training, Charlie-Three-Three, (C Company [CO], 3rd Battalion [BN], 3rd Combat Training Brigade [BDE] [CTB]) Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri (Ft. Lost-in-the-woods, Misery). 
    • Freezing Rain, slick red mud, miles and miles and miles of marching, “cattle-car” trailers and quality, practical instruction and advice from a cadre of combat (Viet Nam) Vets – God Bless them. 
    • Graduated Basic as a PFC.
  • MAR-APR 71 – One of the most wonderful months of my life -- because part of it was spent Honeymooning with the Love of my Life, Evelyn May Shafer, newly re-designated “Mrs. Lucas”.
  • Apr-Sep, 1971 – training with the Army Security Agency (ASA – then the uniformed Branch of the NSA [“No Such Agency”]) as a Morse Code Interceptor – VC sent by spark-gap, NVA Russian-trained senders were so fast they sounded like teletypes – couldn’t do the job, so…
  • SEP 71-MAR 72 – Back to Ft. Lost-in-the-Woods, Misery for a scheduled “10-week”, but actually self-paced training course as a clerk-typist – finished in two weeks, and was then trained in a self-paced (allow 10 weeks) course as a Personnel Management Specialist, completed in about three weeks.
    • Impressed by myself -- I applied for Officer Candidate School (OCS) while there– and went on a hold status while the Army pondered my request -- before declining to accept my generous offer to be one of their ossifiers (“insufficient education”).  God had His gracious hand on me, even then, as I loved “serving” as a NCO – when I finally figured out a little about how to do that.
      • Worked as a supply clerk/gopher while awaiting that sound decision and proved that one can, indeed, get a “Deuce-n-half” stuck, despite it having ALL-WHEEL DRIVE ON TEN WHEELS!  (emphasis by my Supply Sergeant) – nevertheless:
      • Left Ft. Leonard Wood as a Specialist (E4), on orders for “Germany”.
  • MAR 72 - Using my newly acquired clerk-smarts, went to Ft, Riley, Kansas to apply for deferred movement to USAREUR, because Evelyn was in her last trimester with our daughter Jennifer.  Got “shanghaied" by a Senior Civilian Clerk/Supervisor with a lot more smarts, and was added to the 1st Infantry Division’s “Table of Organization and Equipment” (TOE), or so it seemed.
  • MAR 72-JAN 74 – 1st  AG & Finance Company, 1st Infantry Division – “If you’re gonna be one – Ya gotta be a Big Red One” -- one of the best places to learn to be a soldier in the entire army, in my humble opinion.
    • “No mission too difficult -- No sacrifice too great – Duty First!” was more than a motto, it was a way of life.
    • We all, clerks and cooks and bottle washers included – we all trained hard in what would later be called “basic soldier skills”. 
    • Daughters Jennifer Ann and Adria May born during this time.
    • Made Specialist Five (E5) in Nov., 1972 (22 months in service – “Blood Stripe”) without a clue as to how to be an NCO.
    • Got a clue at the 1st INF DIV’s NCO Academy during this period – however, some of the lesson took years to sink through my rather thick skull.
  • JAN 74 -JAN 75 – TUSLOG Det 169, Sinop, Turkey. 
    • Son, Aaron Matthew Dale born during this time. (Aaron died last year, and my USSOUTHCOM family provided huge support when that happened).
    • Required by my “debrief” to describe this unit/location as a “weather station.”
    • Very bad year -- spent learning to drink alcoholically – left with a bar to reenlistment, after being a near-total failure as a unit clerk.
  • JAN 75-APR 78 – 1st AG Co, 1st INF DIV (told you I was on the TOE).
    • “Worked off” the “Bar” in about six months – Worked as a “Repel-deppel” (Replacement Depot) Assignment NCO, Senior Enlistment Assignments NCO and:
    • Was a part of the establishment of the first ever Consolidated Processing Center – now the standard across the Army. 
      • If a newly arrived soldier was “there” for the first morning formation, they could be fully processed and have their full gear in hand to stand afternoon formation in their new unit the same day.
    • A lot of “Binge-drinking” episodes with my “buddies” and some inappropriate relationships with women of the military “family”.
  • APR 78-APR 81 – 8th  AG Co., 8th INF DIV.
    • Developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for complex personnel actions which, after IG review, were adopted USAREUR-wide.
    • Was utilized a Trouble- shooter NCO, being moved from section to section to “square-away” dysfunctional sections.
    • Again using my “clerk-smarts” applied and was accepted for Schooling and Reclassification as an Army Broadcaster/Public Affairs (PA) NCO.
    • Moved to maintenance (daily) drinking – more inappropriate relationships with women of the military “family”.
  • MAY-AUG 81 – Defense Information School (DINFOS) Basic Broadcast Course.
    • “Made” Staff Sergeant (SSG-E6) in my “old” specialty – but the cut-off score for my new one was the same, so, there’s that. 
    • Class Leader
    • Binge drinking and inappropriate relationships with women of the military “family”.
  • AUG 81-AUG84 – Public Affairs Office (PAO), U.S. Army Signal & Science Center and School, Ft. Gordon, Georgia.
    • Expanded and extended operations of the PAO’s closed-circuit Radio Station, and lead the broadcast staff to winning several awards in military and civilian competitions for broadcast production excellence.
    • Helped in the fight to move from main-frame computers and “dumb”-terminals to desk-top computers to facilitate “desk-top publishing” and improve production of the post newspaper.
    • Won a first-place Keith L. Ware Award (Army-wide competition) and a second-place Thomas Jefferson Award (DoD-wide competition).
    • Spear-headed the development of a mobile “broadcasting” van, which became a prime feature of Graduation Parties at the Signal School.
    • Maintenance and binge drinking and inappropriate relationships with women of the military “family”.
  • SEP 84-DEC 86 – Chief Announcer, Southern European Broadcasting (SEB) Detachment, Camp Darby, Italy.
    • Made Sergeant First Class (SFC-E7)
    • Maintenance and binge drinking and inappropriate relationships with women of the military “family”.
    • First attempt at stopping drinking, with the help of other soldiers and airmen and a 12-step fellowship– learned to “talk the talk” but continued immoral behaviors -- not "walking the walk".
  • JAN 87-APR 88 – NCOIC, U.S. Army Armor Center and School PAO, Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
    • Helped acquire and install TV “broadcast” equipment and programming materials and supervised operations of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) operation.
    • Helped create original programming for the CCTV operation.
    • Started drinking again, and conducting maintenance and binge drinking and inappropriate relationships with women of the military “family”.
    • Marriage coming apart.
  • APR 88-APR 89 – Chief Announcer and Acting First Sergeant, American Forces Korea Network (AFKN), Seoul and Commandant, AFKN North.
    • Marriage continuing to deteriorate, but, finally, “got sober” by the grace of God and with the help of other soldiers and former soldiers in a 12-step program, but continued immoral behaviors, while barely beginning to “walk the walk”.
  • May 89-APR 91 – PA NCO, PA NCOIC, U.S. Army Armor Center and School PAO, Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
    • Legally separated from Evelyn before:
  • APR 91-JAN 93 (Military Retirement - forced by a change in the "Retention Control Point" for SFCs to 22 years) – Operations Sergeant and “Acting” First Sergeant, Southern Command Network (SCN), Ft. Clayton, Panama.
    • Divorced Evelyn and married a SOUTHCOM Civilian, Anne Kelly, in NOV 92.
    • Beginning to really “walk the walk” as a sober person, but still making stupidly self-centered decisions (such as the above).
    • Troops and Commander called me “Top” or “First Shirt” (my airmen) – even though I was still wearing SFC insignia.  I considered this (still do) a high honor.
  • JAN 93-SEP 97 -- 2 years, six months as a full-Time Student, Panama Canal Branch – Florida State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology, with “concentrations’ in Psychology and Anthropology.
    • Part-time Non-appropriated Funds (NAF) employee, U.S. Army South. (USARSO)
    • Contractor to USARSO, teaching the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Experienced Rider’s Course to the soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and civilian employees of SOUTHCOM and it's component commands. 
      • I wasn’t a “good” instructor in the sense that my deep love of talking about all things related to motorcycling made the class a bit of an endurance trial.
  • SEP 97 returned to the U.S.A. (or within driving distance of it) with the USSOUTHCOM HQ move to Miami.
    • Made “the move” as a family member with applications for civil service employment pending.
  • APR 98-FEB 2015 - Public Affairs Specialist, USSOUTHCOM Public Affairs Office.
    • Worked as Media Relations Officer, then
    • Public Affairs Plans, Policies and Programs Specialist.
    • JAN 2000, separated from and, eventually, divorced, Anne Kelly.
    • NOV 2000, re-married my best friend Evelyn, for the second, and last time.
  • 5 SEP, 2015 – God and my SOUTHCOM Family saved my life, see: http://www.becomingwholly.info/413980001

My long career and life (yes, I am old – I don’t mind, it’s a privilege denied too most) I’ve learned the most important thing we can do is love and take care of those around us.  Other military people sowed the seeds that, eventually, led me to seek help for my alcoholism and other “sin-addictions” and “find my way back” to my Lord, my family, and honorable service.  More recently, other military family members’ quality actions contributed to me surviving a medical “event” that very few people survive.

This is part of the reason that I so fiercely love the soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast-Guardsmen of the United States.  I deeply honored to have served “…in the company of heroes.”