Monday, April 23, 2012

Ode to the Military Man

The recent addition of Sergeant (?) Dogsquat to our little community here at The Sanctuary turned my thoughts to a frankly largely-forgotten aspect of my life.

This post is a virtual salute to military men (and women) everywhere, and in particular, those who form part of our little corner of The Gendersphere.

It suddenly struck me recently that there seems to be a disproportionate number of military personnel who comment here.
Perhaps it is just a function of the type of man who would be attracted to Red Pill/Manosphere ideas. Perhaps it is just coincidence.
I don't know.
In any case, I must say that it's very nice to have military men in our midst.
Makes The Sanctuary feel a whole lot safer ;-)
Turns out it's not just 'Pope Game' I am susceptible to.
Apparently I am a sucker for 'Military Game' too :-)

I would normally vehemently deny that I like a man in uniform...but alas, I have two pieces of evidence to the contrary.
Like many girls, I swooned at the movie 'An Officer and a gentleman' starring Richard Gere.

And in Pope Game I inadvertently let the cat out of the bag that I like the uniform of the Pontifical Swiss Guards.


On this blog somewhere, in response to someone's question, I once claimed to have zero connection to the military.
I forget the context in which the question was asked, but I suspect it was to the tune of 'do you come from a military family', hence my reply, because in fact, my (nuclear) family has no links with the military.
I had forgotten my 'links' to the military because it is not 'in my face' so much as before.

But I recall a relatively recent incident in which two male members of my entourage encountered each other. They were at some time in their lives both military men (army).

Their interaction was something to behold. All I love about manhood was dispalyed before my very eyes in a way I still find hard to put words to.
The mutual respect, shared tales of military life, the honour, the brotherhood...
It was almost a sacrilege on my part to be even witnessing it.

And all this reminds me of a six week period I spent in the US of A when I was in my early twenties. In my boldest and most harebrained moves to date, I enrolled in a special training programme with a Military Unit in Washington DC, as part of my professional training. I was assigned to the Navy team. The Army one was full, apparently.

Below may be an explanation as to why I have a special soft spot for the Navy, and non-military sailors too.
Danny, NC, Bill, Dogsquat, BeijaFlor, Popeye...

Due to the nature of our work, I had to share a room with the Navy team I refer to above. That means, me and 5 men in bunk beds in a tiny room for nights at a time.
My family were horrified to hear this, of course.
But they needn't have worried. As indeed, neither did I.

In typical immature fashion, I was amused at the 'horror' of my family (it was some sort of guilty pleasure of mine :-). But now I am more mature, I 'get' their concern. It was far from an ideal arrangement. However, it was crucial to our work not to be dispersed in various locations at all times even during the night, because we were required to be mobilised as one unit when duty called. And it often did several times per night. So in fact, sleeping was often the last thing anyone managed to do when we were all holed up like that in our room. Often we would be wide awake simply waiting for the next call.

These men were my biggest introduction to 'irreverence' if ever there was one! I never heard so many 'fart jokes' in my life.

But they were also very courteous towards me and very protective. They were mostly older than me. For sure more experienced than me professionally. I enrolled in their programme precisely because they are the best at what they do, worldwide.

I never got any inappropriate behaviour from them. Some were married, but most were not.
I followed them all day everywhere they went like an annoying little sister.
And yet they tolerated me well.
I was never made to feel bad. They were great men.
They actively took me everywhere with them. Even to the gym where they laughed at me for my physical inferiority to them (I was on the skinny side) whilst I drooled at their physiques.

It was a great time for me. Not only because it gave me a lot of insight into military life and men in general, but it was also simply fun. the time I returned home after six weeks, I was super-skilled in the aspect of my profession that I had gone there to improve.
What's more, I came away with this overwhelming sentiment that I had become part of some sort of new 'family'. I guess if you spend six weeks cooped up in a room with a group of people, you come away feeling some sort of connection to them.

Since that time, my paths with the military have not crossed so much.

Except to say that I now live in a country which is big on military service for its young men. Despite being known for its neutral stance on war. (Odd conundrum I know).

So, I often see young men out and about in their uniforms as they make their way to their training camp on a weekend.

And, at work, from time to time, a male colleague would disappear for a few weeks only to come back looking leaner, meaner and....
Is it me or is it suddenly hot in here?
Sorry. I shall keep this post classy from here onwards :-)

I notice that for all the 'sins' of Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama, what no-one would argue about is their commitment to the military. These women play this role very well.
I like that about them.

By the way, if you are a miitary woman, please identify yourself! I don't know any and I would love to change that.

I note however that Danny is not too keen on military women as LTR prospects.
Danny explains his reasoning well.
But I wonder - does this not apply to any woman with a job?
Are military women less feminine than other women?
If so, then the two World Wars where women were very much part of the action would have seen a drop in male-female interaction, no?
If so, then the compulsory military service for Israeli women is bad news for their LTR/marriage prospects, no?
Any job (outside the home) has the potential of masculinising a woman, no?

In Manhood United, Womanhood Unlimited, I touch on the topic of military service in the comments section.
Is military service a good thing? For men?
What about for women?
Given that the SMP is fraught with enough difficulties, women don't need another 'impediment', surely.

I said above that I did not know any military women. That is true, except it may not be strictly accurate.

I had a friend who was an intensive care nurse.
I remember her especially fondly for 2 reasons amongst many.

1. She was incredibly physically fit. A real fitness freak, she was. In a not-so-smart move, I would go long distance cycling with her. Even though she was 6 years older than me, she would always leave me trailing way behind her after yet another gruelling hill climb. Then at the top of the hill where she would be eating her energy snack as I approached her, too breathless to speak, she would look at me like I had two heads or something, and quip, 'What took you so long, slow coach?'

2. She was an excellent cook. And with her extroverted, gregarious personality, her dinner parties at which she was always the life and soul, were truly legendary. Years later, people still talk about them, as indeed I am now.
I lost touch with her for about 3 years. Next I knew, I got an email from a friend of hers in which he referred to her in the past tense.
I emailed back wondering about his choice of tense.
Then he told me.
Shortly after I lost touch with her, my friend joined the British Navy, and promptly got deployed to Iraq with the Medical Corps.
(She had never told me she was harbouring thoughts of joining the military).
Within a year of her return, she felt a bit 'under the weather'. She had a routine blood test.
Thinking she was just getting unfit, she trained harder at the gym.
It was during one such session at the gym (perhaps fittingly so for her) that her doctor called her on her mobile phone to say she should go to hospital for a check up - he wanted the hospital to redo her blood test.
She packed an overnight bag and went to hospital that night.
She never came out alive.
Exactly 5 months later, she was dead. In the same intensive care unit she had previously worked in. Of a particularly aggressive and rare form of leukaemia.

I never got a chance to meet her Navy self. Except to see a picture of her in her Navy uniform in her obituary.
I never got a chance to say goodbye.
I imagine that in her generosity, her only remark as to why I did not find out about her death earlier than I did, would be 'What took you so long, slow coach?'
I am fully expecting this question when I turn up, breathless and tired, at the Pearly Gates.

I am pretty sure her leukaemia was linked to her time in Iraq.
But no-one can prove that in her specific case, despite the body of evidence that 'Gulf war syndrome' includes a risk of cancer. And in fact, I don't know if she had any of the other symptoms of GWS prior to her death.

Although I am not a fan of war per se, it is not surprising to me that the first three of my 'Film Reviews' were based on films that depict military life/war.

Coincidence? Or Freudian association?

Is it me or is it hot in here all of a sudden?

I may have 'been' in the US Navy for six weeks, but I was never made to do this. For which I am eternally grateful.

We Brits like our 'Pomp and Circumstance'.
But alas, in an act of High Treason, it is not the music of Edward Elgar of 'Pomp and Circumstance march' fame that I present to you here.

For my military music of choice, I have left the British Isles behind.
I have chosen for you instead, Franz Schubert's 'Marche Militaire'.

Addendum 23rd April 2012:
Um...gulp... OK, so I am feeling a little uneasy here. The Tower of London/The London Dungeons are concrete testament to the fact that those who commit 'high treason' don't do well. As in, never live to tell their tale.
I do like my head connected to the rest of my body.. as opposed to...

So in a fit of cowardly consternation, I hotfoot it right back to the British Isles :-)

Here is Edward Elgar's 'Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, which is arguably the most famous one of the five, not least because it contains the famous 'Land of Hope and Glory' anthem.

'Last night of the Proms', the last in a series of concerts in late summer at The Royal Albert Hall in London (with live feed by satellite at Hyde Park) is never complete without a rendition of this piece. In fact it is always the highlight, with Brits everywhere going absolutely wild with frenzy, with fireworks and the whole shebang :-)

My own personal favourite however, is no. 4:

I salute you, you men and women of valour and honour.


just visiting said...

I'd noticed this too. Lol. And very glad to share their company. May they continue to comment often.

Senior Beta said...

What was the training you did with the Navy unit in DC? Curious.

Spacetraveller said...

@ JV,

Amen to that!

@ Senior Beta,

Welcome to The Sanctuary!

It was an exercise in military response times to trauma/major incidents.

dannyfrom504 said...

I see I've lost top billing. *sigh*

I actually don't know how to respond to this.

Spacetraveller said...

@ Danny,

"I see I've lost top billing. *sigh*"

You and your Navy friends ARE top billing :-)
Respect to you guys.

Anonymous said...

An old Grandfather, whose grandson came to him with anger at a man who had done him an injustice, said, "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way." "But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights every one, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit." The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins Grandfather?"

The Grandfather solemnly said, "The one I feed."

The Navy Corpsman

Spacetraveller said...

@ NC,

Great story!

I shall stop feeding my hamster.