As some of you know, I served for 10 years in the United States Army. Today is one of the most important days of the year to me because it is the one set aside by America for me to reflect on my time in service and to remember the many men and women who wore the uniform with me and before me.
So for the rest of this week I rant not out of anger, but out of a pensive reverence to my fellow brothers and sisters in arms, and the many great times we shared. I realize that my bio is already contained in this blog, but if you will allow me, I will use the next three days to expound upon my time in the Army.
It all began on a summer day, when a recruiter called my house and woke me from a nap. I was a junior in high school and was on summer vacation going into my senior year. SSG Reeves introduced himself and asked if he could come out to my house and talk with me.
My response was more dare than acceptance, see we lived at the end of the levi that used to be called Brookside Rd (those who are from Stockton know what I am talking about) which was so far away from anyone that for him to find us, he was going to have to work for it. But work he did and he found his way, with little help, to our little trailer.
What happened next was a blur. He started dropping names of people I knew from school that he had already talked to and made contact with. It was idle chit chat as he laid down the company line like a pro, but then came the question, "so what do you do at Lincoln?" to which I relied "oh, I run track and play in the band," he cut me off...What followed were the words that would forever change my life.
"You know the Army has a band...you could get paid to play. And earn money for college!"
At that very second I was already reaching for a pen and ready to sign the papers. There was nothing more that man needed to say, he had his recruit, I just wanted to know when I could start.
Now I feel it necessary to fill you in a little on my plans before I ate that golden carrot. Until I heard the good Staff Sergeant's magical song, it was my intention to attend the University of Nevada with the end goal of getting my degree in music and coming back to Stockton to hopefully become the band director at my high school Alma mater.
We were not rich, and I had no clue how I was going to get to Nevada to go to school, so it kind of goes without saying that when Reeves told me that Uncle Sam could help me do it...I was sold.
So as it went, my senior year in high school was spent preparing to leave Stockton and join the traveling circus otherwise known as the Army, which incidentally has more carnies... but I digress.
It came to pass that on the 12th of July 1994, Private First Class Rodrigo Villagomez boarded a plane heading for Fort Leonard Wood Missouri.
Follow me on my journey through basic and onto my AIT (advanced individual training) in tomorrow's post. But to tide you over and for research purposes, here is a brief look at the transition from civilian to soldier. While the uniforms have changed since I went through reception battalion, the same basic concept remains.
Tomorrow... from Leonard Wood to Little Creek to Bliss; the early years.