Life,  Process,  Writing

29 Years Ago: Slice of Life


 Slice of Life hosted at the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday hosted at Two Writing Teachers. Join in and share a slice of your life.
Slice of Life hosted at Two Writing Teachers. Join in and share a slice of your life.

I can’t believe it’s been 29 years.

The fear is still palpable, a lifetime later.

Board the bus. Board the plane. Sit quietly, nervously.

Waiting. Short flight ~ Miami to Orlando.

Plane lands. Board the bus.

Recruit Training Center, Orlando. 

Source: No longer in existence, RTC housed thousands of recruits 1968 - 1994.
No longer in existence, RTC housed thousands of recruits 1968 – 1994.

My new life begins.

Uniform issue, hair cut, shots, ushered to barracks. Midnight? 1:00 AM? The air was cool that November. The night was still and quiet, punctuated by the barking orders coming from left and right. Didn’t matter how cool it was.  I was sweating.  Teeth chattered. Scared out of my mind.

Eyes straight, recruit!
Heels to toes, recruit!
No talking, recruit!
No crying, recruit!
You belong to Uncle Sam, now.  There’s no crying here!

A fact that fell on deaf ears as we solemnly moved along the concrete paths that led to the place we’d call home for the next nine weeks… if we made it through training.  Many did not.

What had I gotten myself into?
Short hair and shots… welcome to Boot Camp, recruit!


Four months before, June 1985, right out of high school, not ready to go to college, though prepped for it,  a post-graduation trip to Disney would be the SHARP left turn my life would soon take.

The air was hot and humid that June day. The recruiter’s office offered respite … and promise … for the next chapter in my life.



c. 1985

Mom was devastated.

Turns out, the loss of one of her brothers in Vietnam was too much to bear.

Knowing her daughter enlisted broke her heart.  She did not understand why I did it.

I didn’t understand either.

Fifteen years after her beloved brother’s death, it was my turn to serve our country, an honor carried on by my maternal grandfather, my twin uncles, and now me.

Little did I know then, the impact my decision would have on the rest of my life.

God Bless the men and women who came before me and continue to serve long after me.  Thank you for your service, and for many, like my Uncle Larry, the ultimate sacrifice.

Cpl James Larry Walden "Uncle Larry"
Cpl James Larry Walden “Uncle Larry” 1947 – 1970, twin brother of Cpl James Garry Walden


Thank you to the families and friends who keep memories strong.





  • RobinLK

    Dana, thank you for mentioning the weather details in this post. Helps me hone my skills, which I always appreciate! 🙂

  • Carrie Rubin

    Very interesting to learn your story. Thank you for your service and a thank you to all the other men and women who have bravely and selflessly defended out country.

  • Tara Smith

    Thank you for your service – it is because of people like you that we can go about our lives as we do, with reassurance and security.

  • RobinLK

    Hi Linda,
    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, and thank you for their service. Thank you, also, for your kind words.

  • Dana Murphy

    Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you for your service. Your Slice of Life Story gave me goosebumps. I really admire your bravery. How scared you must have been.

    I don’t know why but I really appreciated both the small details about the weather. It conveyed to me just how well you remember both of those instances – enlisting and arriving at Boot Camp. Like they are seared in your mind – weather and all.

    Great Slice – and thank you, again.

  • Linda Baie

    Thank you for your service and for all those before and after. My father was killed in World War II, and many other relatives/family friends served, have served. It is a special day to remember.

  • RobinLK

    Thank you for your kind words and your family’s service. I will keep you and them in my thoughts today.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing, and for serving. I’m the daughter of an Army soldier, and am so proud of my father (and my sister and brother-in-law and step-father…military runs in my family too) and grateful for their service.

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