View Full Version : Military Matters

13th Aug 2010, 13:02

Out of curiosity I was wondering what everyone, for those who served in their country's armed forces, did whilst there. In other words, what was your MOS/job specialty, how long did you serve, did you do so voluntarily vs. drafted, and do you look back at the time positively or negatively?

Captain Stable
13th Aug 2010, 13:04
You mean apart from peeling potatoes and terrifying the (few remaining) local virgins?

13th Aug 2010, 13:05
Yes, Captain Stable, apart from peeling potatoes and terrifying the few remaining virgins!!! :ok:

13th Aug 2010, 13:08
I was wondering what everyone, for those who served in their country's armed forces, did whilst there.
Ruled the World . . . :E

13th Aug 2010, 13:12
Flew, among other things, the SH-2F Sea Sprite and the SH-60B Seahawk on frigates, destroyers, and cruisers from both coasts.

Did some other stuff, to include quite a bit of Joint and Interservice work.

13th Aug 2010, 14:43
I mended broken aeroplane electrical and instrument systems after serving an RAF apprenticeship - 14 years man and boy from age 16 to 30 yrs old. Volunteered, and served in Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and West London as well as Singapore/Malaysia and short spells in Malta and the Maldives. I left to seek my fortune. Still looking.

13th Aug 2010, 15:09
Sadly my only service was limited to part time in the infantry. But I rose to the dizzying heights of Three Star.............private, the equivalent of PFC. But I served almost seven enjoyable years. The FCA as was, universally derided by the general public as the Free Clothes Association. The irony of which was not lost on us considering how much kit we had to buy ourselves. The FCA being woefully underfunded. We part timers were never issued combat uniforms. I wore a Surplus British combat jacket with an US trousers. There are no Irish army surplus as it's illegal to wear any item of uniform if it wasn't officially issued to you. This led to the very Irish paradox where a member of the army could be charged with wearing an official Irish uniform. But you could wear any other country's uniform without censure.:ugh: I remember seeing an officer wearing an American jacket complete with US ARMY and the patch of the 'Big Red One' 1st Infantry Division on his arm.

We were also equipped with Lee Enfield .303 rifles, Bren LMGs, wore 1937 pattern webbing with British WW2 helmets. So we were quite a sight.

Thankfully that's all changed now and the current RDF is equipped pretty much equipped as the regular army though they still use the Bren gun.

Despite our ragtag look at times. Mine was a good unit and we served on the border with the North and even had helicopter insertion training when it was rare in the regular army.

My biggest and only remaining regret was never going onto full time service either in the Irish army or the British forces preferably the RAF. The irony being that I had always intended on a military career which somehow never happened.:confused:

13th Aug 2010, 15:13

I sympathize. I too, looking back and playing the Monday morning quarterback, wish I had stayed on in the U.S. Army until retirement. (I served 9 years instead.)

But, you know what they say about hindsight!

13th Aug 2010, 15:22
Dear rgbrock1,

In the UK, I believe that the correct term in place of "drafted" is or was "conscription" and/or "national service". According to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_in_the_United_Kingdom), conscription ended on 31/12/1960 and the last drafted or conscripted UK serviceman (by one) was a certain Private Fred Turner of the Army Catering Corps discharged on 07/05/1963 (perhaps also peeling potatoes if not exactly terrifying local virgins)...?

However, the very last conscripted serviceman was apparently Lt. Richard Vaughn of the Royal Army Pay Corps who was discharged 6 days later (presumably had to stay on another week organising Private Fred Turner's last pay packet)...?!

So the UK armed forces ever since 1961, have been an entirely voluntary armed force, compared to that of the USA...?

I can still recall going down to the local armed forces recruiting agency office at the age of 18 together with a mate who also worked as a waiter in the same hotel. He wanted to become a RN officer on surface vessels -his 3 'O' levels sufficed. I wanted to fly fighter jets for the RAF - I needed 2 'A' levels 'wot are dey I might have asked?' but which I didn't have...

Roll on a couple of years to the Falklands war - went back to "volunteer" if needed, but no volunteers required... :eek:

rgbrock1 must find it somewhat strange and surely disconcerting that the UK's reliance on conscription (or the draft) ended well before say, the Vietnam war etc.

What I find strange (and very disconcerting), is that even though the UK ended conscription (or the draft) back in 1960, and that UK armed forces have been entirely constituted of "volunteers" ever since, the UK's armed forces have nevertheless continued to be conscripted (drafted if you prefer), to fight wars "alongside, for and behalf of the USA" in various corners of the globe over several decades since. Call it irregular "conscription or being drafted" by corrupted and/or immature UK politicians and/or governments, and as it's turned out, in so far as the Iraqi invasion of 2003 is concerned, together with the on-going war in Afghanistan through to 2010, these "volunteers" have been well and truly conscripted (or drafted), and shafted...?!

Currently, all my taxes apparently go towards keeping Emperor Napoleon 'Sarkozy X' in power in France. But anyone who pays taxes (therefore financing the armed forces) has a valid right to respond within this thread. :ok:

Lance Murdoch
13th Aug 2010, 15:30
Three years in the Royal Naval Reserve reaching the dizzying height of Midshipman whilst at university. Got turned down by the regulars, probably at 21 a bit too immature to be an officer.

It helped to pay my way through university, taught me how to navigate, use R/T etc which gave me a head start when learning to fly and gave me a kick in the backside at an age when it was sorely needed. It made me grow up faster than most of my peers.

Im not sure that it really helped me in my career, certainly when I was younger it may well have hindered me. It did alot to boost my self confidence which has helped in other parts of life.

Although at the time I was dissapointed not to get into the regulars, most of my friends who did go in ended up getting chopped from training or after a few years for sometimes spurious reasons mainly to do with the RN suffering from chronic underfunding. I dont regret my time in the RNR though.

Um... lifting...
13th Aug 2010, 15:43
I hear the Army does that to one.

25 years (4 as a cadet) in Uncle Sam's Confused Group. During that quarter-century, was promoted with some regularity, made two polar deployments (both South) having the good sense to work in the machinery spaces. Gained a passing familiarity with Alaska and the Pacific Coast and had the good fortune to spend 5 years in Hawai'i and the better part of a decade in Florida. Managed to visit all 7 continents and all 7 of the historical seas over the course of that time and crossed every major nautical line on the planet except the Arctic Circle.

For some reason they saw fit to train me at one time as a salvage diver and give me enough training with explosives to make me realize I wanted nothing to do with them, and send me to flight training. Landed aboard everything from aircraft carriers to icebreakers to tank landing ships to frigates to destroyers to Royal Navy corvettes to a rock-strewn field on Lanai to Kaula Rock (and darned few people have done that). Winched from Chinese freighters, Carnival, Disney, and a few other cruise liners, Liberian bulk carriers, small boats, sailboats (my personal least favorite), shrimpers, small craft, life rafts, oil field service boats, beaches, open water, Lehua Rock (breathtaking), and on one memorable occasion a floating door (this was off Cuba), and other stuff I probably can't remember. Taught a few dozen folks to fly helicopters and remain hopeful that I might have done it correctly. Saw some people live, saw some die, and wondered if it might have been possible to do anything different to change that.

Got a university degree and a master's degree on the service's dime, took my ATP checkride in the service's machine, and to top it all off, they wire money into my account on the 1st of the month and will continue to do so until such time as my old squadronmates light the pyre on my funereal barge and shove it out to sea (a group pact, you understand).

Worth it? I'd say so.

13th Aug 2010, 16:16
Wow Um... Lifting, very impressive and you were certainly fortunate to have experienced all that.

Krystal n chips
13th Aug 2010, 16:49
I made a significant contribution to : The Welsh economy, The West German / Dutch / Danish economies... and innumerable greasy spoons..I saw this as a form of cultural exchange....developed my cynical nature...and then there was the gliding of course which corrupted me from being an innocent soul...possibly with little or no effort.......got to do some of the best and most varied engineering ever c/o 431 MU....got my picture taken by those ( for the cousins ) Commie barstewards..exposing myself and being sick over the side of a Grimsby fishing trawler...in the name of the Queen no less, met some people who are life long friends.....displayed no ability whatsoever to press my uniform / polish my shoes etc...wholly irrelevant bolleaux with regard to ones occupation as an engineer in my less than humble opinion...not always shared I have to admit by those who felt there was a relevance...had a few gash rides at low level in fast pointy things...had a few hiccups with the ahem, "system"...show me anybody who hasn't....and overall had a rather nice time....c/o the UK Gov't.:ok: :E

13th Aug 2010, 16:53
I had a short and undistinguished career in the Royal Navy as a Seaman Officer (known as a fishead in the slang). Essentially bridge watchkeeping and looking after the welfare of a division of ratings (about 30 or so if I remember rightly). I left the RN and the Communist states gave up, and the Berlin Wall came down: events which might not have been connected, but might have been. I deployed to the West Indies twice on destroyers for 3 months at a time, and ruined my liver, and patrolled the North Sea fishing grounds twice for about 3 months each on fishery protection vessels where I learnt to sleep through gales. Other skills leaned include: navigation; bulling boots and shoes; writing reports; dressing the fo'c'sle for a cocktail party; driving small boats; driving big boats; transferring furnace oil or later marine diesel between ships without stopping; anchoring a ship; getting up in the middle of the night: sleeping during the day; looking suitable embarrassed when the Admiral told my XO that he thought I looked too intelligent to be a naval cook in front of a galley full of real naval cooks when I was doing my week of galley experince; tieing a bow tie without a mirror (always good for winning a bottle of port from another Junior Officer or getting extra duties for being a cocky git if I did it in front of the XO). Some of those things have been useful in my life since, and all of them were alot of fun in my life then.

13th Aug 2010, 16:59
I did three years at Halton, a couple of years fixing Vulcans
at Waddo and Saints, then got totally pissed off with being
treated like a snot nosed kid by a bunch of *ankers, so I left
to pursue other interests as they say.
Back to aviation in '66, and stuck with it until a couple of years ago,
when I retired with loads of money.
Still waiting for a medal though.( Cold War one.)
The septics got one. We didn't, and we were closer to Ivan than they were.

13th Aug 2010, 17:04

The Cold War Victory Medal:

The Cold War Victory Medal is both an official medal of the National Guard and an unofficial military medal of the United States. It is awarded by the State of Louisiana and in ribbon form only by the State of Alaska. In the medal's unofficial capacity it can be purchased by any member of the United States military, or civilian employees of the federal government, who served in their positions honorably during the years of the Cold War, specifically September 2, 1945 to December 26, 1991.

Thus, we Veterans here in the U.S. have the ability to PURCHASE the medal.
If I have to purchase a medal, I know what they can do with it instead.

13th Aug 2010, 17:40
Did 14 years in the RAF. Joined as soon as it was legal and 6 months later joined my first squadron on my 17th birthday where they let me loose on the might Phantom. Did a couple of tours on search and rescue before a 3 year holiday in Cyprus. Only left because there were no promotion prospects. Shortly after I did, they started paying people to leave. I've worked on military projects just about ever since.

After I left, I spent another 8 years as a VRT officer with the air cadets before my own kids became a priority.

Cardinal Puff
13th Aug 2010, 20:31
Walked.... a lot ......carrying lots of stuff....:uhoh:

13th Aug 2010, 22:18
Three years as an appy at RAF Locking followed by a couple on Vulcan B2's as an air radio fitter liney at Finningley. Vulcan - magic aeroplane. A year and a bit down the Gulf - well before it became a media circus. Staish was a Sqn Ldr Tom Sheppard, used to lead a small group of us out into the desert to explore - loved it. A year at Leconfield on Lightnings - hated it. Purchased discharge.

A couple of years just south of LHR with RCA. Got to visit many European airlines as field eng. Picked up raft of ARB quals. Then on to Papua New Guinea as avionics manager. Did PPL and then CPL, but never really used CPL in anger (to earn a crust). Brief stop at Rand Airport, RSA - eighteen months, then moved to computer industry. RAF training held me in good stead - returned to aviation following collapse of software business (some twenty years later); doing initial fits of GPS to Flying Doctor aircraft in FNQ Oz. It paid the rent. Still got AVGAS and AVTUR running in my veins. Often see students from Moorabbin practising over my golf course and wish I was up there with them. Dream on girl, dream on.

galaxy flyer
13th Aug 2010, 23:01
Went to UPT thru the ANG to fly F-100s, got 400 hours in 'em--just like being paid to fly a P-51; then into A-10s. After a mid-air and a broken back in the ensuing ejection, went on the C-5 for 18 years. I was a military technician there, squadron ops officer, deputy commander and group commander. Two activations and numerous contingencies where we took in the troops or brought back the survivors. I would have hoped the numbers equaled out, but brought back too many caskets to realize the truth. I miss being part of history.

Next weekend having a fighter squadron reunion with so many long-lost friends. I still get to stop by my old transport unit and see the changes over the past 5 years.


13th Aug 2010, 23:55
In terms of what has stead me in good steed today?


I can do things I didn't think I could, *

A global, bulletproof friendship with like experienced others.

* I hate heights, Thus, I joined selection for the Army sub aqua group.

It was the toughest scenario I'd ever experienced, it all but broke my back.

But, there I was, on final selection day, 90 having been whittled down to 6...

I thought we'd be having a soft one, a Jolly in our speak...

Yeah right. We were lined up on Blessington Bridge, 80 odd feet above water

Jump or sod off to a miserable civvy existence...

The plunge was exhilarating.

14th Aug 2010, 01:24
AlisonCC - Tom Shepherd - a legend!

Myself? 1963-1993. Boy Entrant to sqn ldr. Had a spell on the Sharjah Mountain/Desert Rescue Team following enough time eating sticky buns in Khormaksar to qualify for the GSM (ban me for that again Evileyes!) and for the whole of my 30 years the RAF funded (mostly) my love of mountaineering. Got to work close to some wonderful aircraft, Vulcans at Finningley and Scampton, VC10s, Belfasts and Brits at Brize, Buccaneer at Honington, Harrier at Wittering and the wonderful Andover at Benson.

High spot? Lots of them but parade cdr for the Princess of Wales on appointment as Hon Air Cdre at Wittering was one of them.

Wouldn't have missed a minute of any of it.....but no regrets on leaving.

14th Aug 2010, 08:33
Sisemen wrote:
Tom Shepherd - a legend!

Absolutely - a magic person. Taught me the basics of astro-navigation out in the desert one trip. Came in handy when lost in the Kalahari some years later.

Often feel quite ambivalent about my time in the RAF. Almost every day there were new challenges to face. Fantastic, but then found civilian life very boring and mundane. Travelled all over the world with the RAF, but have since found it hard to settle anywhere. Was it good, was it bad, don't know. It was so very different. :confused:

SMT Member
14th Aug 2010, 08:55
Was drafted, much against my will, but quickly discovered there's very low odds against fighting the big green machine. Got on with it, was shipped off to sergeants school and then back to a training company. Found that I liked it, was sent off to officers school to become a Lieutenant and then finally transferred to a tank regiment where I commanded 4 Leopard II MBTs.

Did a tour of the Balkans, where one night our camp was attacked by a bunch of oppertunistic, but not overtly intelligent, militia types. Much to their disadvantage we mounted our armoured steeds, loaded up, and served them a barrage of 120mm HE rounds. We didn't loose a single man; they were a lot less fortunate.

Having grown up, after serving four years wearing green, said many thanks and left the service with many fond memories and some friends for life.

14th Aug 2010, 10:04
Spent a lot of time converting dead dinosaurs into noise:)

14th Aug 2010, 11:18
1960 to 1971 but only nine years counted because the clock only started ticking at age eighteen. Boy Entrant to civilian via St. Athan, St. Mawgan, Melksham, Khormaksar (1966/1967), Thorney Island (briefly) and finally Ballykelly. Also many, many detachments with the Shacks from SM, K'sar and BK to Sharjah, Madagascar, Norway, Cyprus, the USofA and others that slip the mind at the moment.

Do I regret doing it? Not a bit, loved every minute. Made many great friends and still in touch with some of them.
Do I regret leaving? Not a bit because my subsequent employment also took me to some strange but interesting places.

14th Aug 2010, 11:24
Hmmm, a few have done their time, it appears.

84-94 in the Antipod Blue Circle aeroclub. Started out wanting to fix hairyplanes since I couldn't fly them. Out-of-limits cornea.
Remustered to catering, much more to my liking. Worked out that the shift roster meant only 8 mths actual graft. That not including the 28 stat days. And all the stewards you could harass.
Reached the point where I could stay, but need the frontal lobotomy, or kick off for freedom. Miss the sense of community, but not the extra duties, miss the freebie check rides as ballast, and TODs, but not the confinement. S/pose, all's said and done, I miss the ability and dependability of your mates.
Carrying a 5.56 semi-auto through public streets in step with 29 others, also carrying a 'gat', was a minor luxury. But I never got to the Sand. We back-room minions lucked out on most of the fun stuff.
Being 'in the know', from firsthand intel on Matters Military, before anything hit the press helped define permanently how daft talking heads really are. Honestly, most of civvie street haven't a clue.

unstable load
14th Aug 2010, 18:14
After Matric/Gr12 was conscripted to the Infantry for 24 months National Service where a loathing for running everywhere metamorphosed into a Mil Driving permit and my very own one of these Ratel IFV - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratel_IFV) which beat the hell out of walking and running around the bush.
Went on to this Buffel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffel) for carting the foot sloggers about and spent many a long day in the cramped cab during the interminable patrols in the townships until our political "emancipation" when we were given the option of staying on or quitting the reserves.

Waved them bye-bye and still fondly look back on some of the memories and the carefree times of youth.

Did it do me any good? Hell YES! :ok:

14th Aug 2010, 20:31
ICBM launch officer, well, babysitter really.
GCI controller in a mobile ground system - lots of South American drug-runner watching time
E-3B/C AWACS controller
E-8C JSTARS controller
- they are called "air battle manager" today
USAF historian
Air Staff officer
Air Defense liaison to FAA

14th Aug 2010, 20:52
63-64 Boy Entrant St Athen (Air Elect)
then Gaydon, Marham, Khormaksar(66-67) Sealand, Valley(mountain rescue), Oakington, last 1974-76, 617 Scampton. Did I enjoy it yes and no, would I do it again, if I had the chance.......YES

14th Aug 2010, 22:44
I see we enjoyed the delights of K'sar around the same era. May even have tripped over each other in the Camel Club sometime.
Eight hours working, eight drinking and eight sleeping, really only did one third of the tour. Happy daze.:confused:

15th Aug 2010, 00:48
I reckon that most of us in this age group ended up in Aden at some point. It was less the need for tradesmen but rather the remorseless appetite for guard duty.

A nasty little spat and the resultant "independence" gained them what????

At least the Somalis in those days limited their lethal weapons to egg banjos!!

15th Aug 2010, 01:22
Couldn't wait to get into uniform at the age of seventeen, chose the Royal Engineers, a very good mob, four years UK, did some 'interesting' stuff, one year in Aden, '63 - '64 then flying training. Three great years in Germany flying helicopters. After a total of nine years the lure of the almighty pound and I left for civvy street. Often wondered then if I should have gone back in after a couple of years civvy helicopters but as things turned out I didn't do so badly in civilian life. Loved the military, still attend reunions, belong to associations etc. and maintain a few friends from those days.

Personally I believe there should still be National Service but I am aware of the arguments against.

15th Aug 2010, 01:30
Spent all my time in the South....Louisana, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Vietnam, Cambodia....set an all Army record for parking Chinooks in a hurry....two in one day. Taught some folks how to fly....probably some how not to fly....got turned loose from my Uncle's employ on Christmas Eve....Merry Christmas to me! I was just Summer Help during a period of unpleasantness.

Would I do it again?

Depends upon how many pints I have had!

15th Aug 2010, 02:18
Hands up all those who spent some time down the Gulf - from Muhharaq to Sharjah, Salalah, Masirah, Khormaksar, and others from before my time (please add). And put your hand up again if you thought it was fun.

:ok: :ok:

15th Aug 2010, 07:03
Shack's its quite possible we did run into one another at the Camel club, have been known to frequent it.

alisoncc, was going to put my hand up, till I read that last line. Is it OK if I just wave it about tentatively. :E

15th Aug 2010, 08:23
Not a very illustrious carrer but interesting all the same. Met some absolutely wonderful characters along the way via Brampton, UAS, Muhharaq, Sharjah, Masirah, Salalah, Gib, Akrotiri, Luqa, Majunga, Innsworth and finally Coningsby. The latter was the deciding factor in a sometimes regretted end of service. I was judged unsuitable to be a pilot initially and with hindsight can see why so, despite what many will think initially of the selection procedures, their experience is very sound. Still in touch with a number of old comrades. Also remember very fondly the Brittania Clubs in various places!!
Good luck a keep safe to all those currently serving.

Old Hairy
15th Aug 2010, 09:20
Called for National Service in 1948.applied for aircrew,accepted if I signed for 8 years and four reserve.enjoyed it so much that I stayed for the next 32 years!
Flew 27 types from flying boats to V bombers.Saw most of the world.Made lifelong friends.Would I do it again?...... at the drop of a hat.

15th Aug 2010, 10:51
Flew down to Aden in about 67-68(?) in a Monarch Brit
carrying several tons of Players ciggies.
Off loaded the ciggies and went off in a taxi to the Hotel
near Steamer Point.
As we went down Mahalla(?) to the Hotel there were buntings
and streamers up everywhere, so I innocently asked the driver
what the occasion was. He told me it was the Anniversary of the
We left very quietly, and very early, the following morning.
Luckily no one had thought to have a bonfire.

15th Aug 2010, 12:32
Immediately after the British left Aden, in 1967, the Stasi moved in and the blood letting began and Russia had their warm water port, east of Suez, well done Harold Wilson, some of us never doubted whose side you were on!

15th Aug 2010, 12:52
Joined REME in 1971. Trade was Control Equipment Technician(CET).
Basically electrics, elecronics on tanks and wire giuded missiles, Artillery computing equipment and basic radio repairs. Did 13 years, two year tour NI and two 4 month tours, Germany, Kuwait and UK.
Last posting commissioning new tanks for British Army and sales to other countries. Oman were buying tanks and were short of my trade. So joined Omani Army did 16 months, before leaving contract early to try to save marriage. Wish I stayed as it didn't work.
Enjoyed every minute.:ok: