Tuesday, September 29, 2015

American Legion Eligibility

I have debated with myself for many weeks now as to whether I wanted to write this. But I am both a communicator and have an axe to grind. Several years ago I was recruited by the Athol Post 149 by a member that was trying to line up votes in which he was running for something.

When we discussed eligibility dates, I explained that I served in the Washington National Guard from November, 1953 to June, 1956 at which time I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. I served for four years from June 1956 to June 1960. After that service I was awarded a service connected disability for the period of active duty.

A problem exists here. You see the Legion doesn't think I'm a real veteran because I joined the air force after Korean eligibility expired January 31, 1955. Eligibility started up again in February 1961 through May 7, 1975.

During both Korean and Viet Nam, as many served in Europe and North Africa as did in combat zones. The ones in Germany were waiting for the Soviets to come charging through the Fulda Gap from East Germany. It was the height of the cold war. But I digress. Those that never heard a shot fired in anger who served in places other than combat zones are eligible to join the American Legion.

I too served during the cold war. Our air force was so worried about Soviet nuclear attack that they designed a rapid relocation program called Reflex Alert. An entire SAC wing would relocate for a 90 day period either in Morocco or Libya. We had three bases in Morocco. Sidi Slimane, Ben Guerrere and Nouaseur, just 21 miles south of Casablanca. I was at Nouaseur. We were there to facilitate the SAC Reflex TDY's. I remember standing on the wing of an aircraft, fueling it when I observed three generations of bombers on the ground at the same time. The monster B-36 with 6 pusher props and four jets, the B-47 that appeared to be a fighter on steroids and the venerable B-52. I spent 18 months there followed by two years at McChord AFB in Tacoma, Washington.

But I'm not a real veteran according to the hierarchy in the upper reaches of Legion leadership. The only justification I can come up with is that they, being combat veterans think they are above the rest of us. Soon the old men running the legion will find themselves alone, since the young vets from Afghanistan and Iraq are not interested in joining an old men's club, which is the result of stagnation.

Am I bitter? Bet your ass I am.Whether a war was or wasn't being held during my service of four plus almost 3 years of reserves was not my choice. I was there for whatever happened. Draftees that polished tanks in Germany for two years are members in good standing.

I finally decided not to be a member of an organization that didn't want me. I quit. One person even had the gall to suggest Son's of the Legion or Auxiliary. a blatant insult to my service. No longer am Iwilling to associate with those that I was essentially lying to.

No comments: