SCI 2007: A Sad Side Note on Military Service

This isn't about guns, but I felt I had to pass it along.

David E. Petzal enlisted in the Army on September 11, 1963, and was discharged in September of 1969, having attained the rank of Sergeant, First Class. His job title at the time of his discharge was Senior Drill Sergeant. This is his old uniform.Just outside the main entrance of the Safari Club International Convention halls, the U.S. Army had a booth, and loitering there, a few minutes before the hall opened, I fell into a conversation with the first lieutenant working the booth. He was a big, strapping kid with a Combat Infantry Badge, and he asked if I’d like to enlist. I said I had some doubts about passing the PT test, and that I’d already done my time in the 60s.

Well, said the lieutenant, why not send in the details of your service and you’ll get a certificate thanking you for what you did from the Secretary of the Army?

I would have liked to tell the lieutenant the following:

  • I enlisted because if I hadn’t, they would have drafted me. There was as much patriotism in what I did as there is in paying your taxes. And I suspect this was the story for millions of other young men in that time.

  • I was never shot at.

  • The war during which I served got 58,000 Americans killed for no good purpose. And we have learned nothing from it.

  • When I was discharged, I received a letter of commendation from my company commander. He knew what kind of soldier I was. The current Secretary of the Army does not.

But there was no time to explain this because the show was opening and I had to go do my job, so I simply said I’d think about it and gave him my hand to shake.

The hand he extended to me had no thumb.