Mark Wick, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 in Craig, talks about his military experience during a question-and-answer session Friday at the Moffat County High School auditorium. Wick served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.

Photo by Joe Moylan

Mark Wick, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 in Craig, talks about his military experience during a question-and-answer session Friday at the Moffat County High School auditorium. Wick served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.

Local veterans answer questions, share life experiences

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Robert Schenck, a United States Army veteran of the Gulf and Iraq Wars, tells Moffat County High School students about his experience in boot camp. Schenck said he showed up to basic training with hair down to the middle of his back and spent the first two weeks being called “Jesus Christ” by his drill sergeant.

Moffat County High School played host to local heroes Friday for Veterans Day.

As part of the ceremonies, a panel of 11 Moffat County veterans answered student questions and shared some of their military experiences with the community. Below are highlights from the question-and-answer session.

Were any of you drafted and if so, how did that make you feel?

Gary Tague, United States Army, Vietnam War: “I was around in the late 1960s when the TV screens were more round. They came out with a list and they would draw numbers based on your date of birth. My birthday is in August and my TV screen cutoff August 29, but all of the numbers on the screen were huge. I thought oh great this is good, I won’t get drafted. Then, the list was printed in the paper a couple of days later and I realized I was number 32. I’ll admit my heart rate picked up a little bit. I was drafted, and it was a scary time because the nation didn’t support the military the way you guys do now. I don’t regret being drafted and serving in the military. It was an awesome experience, and I grew a lot.”

If you enlisted, what made you want to enlist?

Jim Meineke, United States Marine Corps, 1951 to 1956: “You high school students are going to love this. I was fed up with my parents and my teachers and everyone telling me what to do. If anyone knows anything about boot camp in the Marine Corps, you can’t breathe without permission. But, it was a really, really great experience. I think it made me a much better person and helped me appreciate the great country that we live in. We have faults, but we’re still better than any country in the whole world.”

Robert Schenck, United States Army, Desert Storm and Iraq War: “I’m the prime example of be careful what you wish for. When I was 17 years old, I read a “National Geographic” article about the 82nd Airborne Division, carrying the brand new 9-millimeter pistol and driving the brand new Humvee in Egypt. I thought, ‘Wow that is so cool, I want to do that.’ One and a half years later, I was in the 82nd Airborne Division, carrying a 9-millimeter pistol and driving a Humvee in Egypt. Basic training was probably the best time of my life, and I fit into the military mold surprisingly well for a 17-year-old kid with hair down to the middle of his back, wouldn’t go to class and thought Mondays were optional. The military really straightened me out.”

Guy Bradshaw, United States Army, 1995 to 2006: “I graduated high school early and wanted to enlist. My parents had to sign a permission slip because I was only 17. I wanted to be a paratrooper and I was. Imagine being 18 and finding yourself stationed in Italy. Needless to say I had a good time. Went to Korea twice. They liked me so much they wanted me back. Bottom line, I came from a military family, so I joined. It’s not for everybody, but it was good for me.”

What was your experience like in boot camp?

Ben Rinker, United States Navy, 1999 to 2003, and United States Army, 2005 to 2008: “I’ll be honest with you. After the first three days I was like, holy, what did I just get myself into? After that, I figured out what the heck I was supposed to be doing and it wasn’t too bad after that.”

Schenck: “I learned a valuable lesson in boot camp, cut your hair before you show up. I spent the first two weeks of basic training being called ‘Jesus Christ.’ Then, my drill sergeant found out I was going to the airborne and my name changed to ‘turd.’”

Tague: “I can remember how they got my attention in boot camp. We were out on the firing range and were supposed to lock and load according to their instructions. I was tired and did so before I was ordered to. The drill sergeant came over and kicked me in the head…pretty hard. He was trying to make the point that you do what you’re told to do when you’re told to do it. I made my point by turning my rifle on him. We got along pretty well after that.”

What was your most memorable meal while in service?

Schenck: “Scrambled eggs. Every day before a jump you get scrambled eggs, and I never understood why until my first jump. They don’t hurt so bad coming back up.”

Wade Gerber, United States Navy, 1990 to 1994, USS Baton Rouge attack submarine: “It’s a little different serving on a submarine because you don’t have the option of anyone flying in food every week, so when you leave for three months, you take everything with you. The best meal you get is during the last week because all of the can labels are gone. The cooks just open them up and dump them in, which made for some memorable meals.”

What was your most proud moment of military service?

Mark Wick, United States Navy, Vietnam War: “Pride isn’t something you blow your own horn about. But, every once in a while some recognition comes your way that you don’t feel you deserve. I was assigned to a Top Gun squadron and we ended up working day and night because the planes required a lot of work. We would work three or four days continuously, sleep in the intake of an aircraft, wake up and make repairs just to support the fleet. When we got back, me and another technician were awarded sailor of the month for our squadron. So, that was a proud moment.”

Rinker: “The proudest time I ever had in the military was when we all came back alive.”

— Also participating in the panel were Albert Shepherd, United States Army, Korean War; Staff Sgt. Franklin Holloway, United States Army; Aaron Saeger, United States Army, Iraq War; and Thom Schnellinger, United States Marine Corps, 1974 to 1978.

— Reported by Joe Moylan, Daily Press writer

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