A desire to serve

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A desire to serve

by: Michael Schaefer | .
. | .
published: June 19, 2014

Editor’s note: Michael Schaefer has always dreamt of serving his country, but that dream may never become reality. Below is his story followed by a poem he wrote.

I am 27 years old and I grew up in Palm Harbor, Fla., and currently reside in New Port Richey, Fla. My great-grandfather served in WWI and both of my grandfathers served in the South Pacific during WWII (one in the Navy and the other in the Army). My father was an Army Reservist during the Vietnam War, and my grandmother’s cousin was a POW in the Korean War. My best friend, Adam Newsome, is currently a 19D Cavalry Scout (E-5) in the Florida Army National Guard and did a tour in Afghanistan while on active duty.

I have wanted to serve in the Army since I was a young child and have attempted to do so several times in recent years, to no avail. Unfortunately, when I was 19, I was arrested for possession of marijuana. Due to the current recruitment policy I am not eligible for a waiver. In the eight years since my arrest, I have stayed out of trouble, earned my Associates degree and will be graduating in December with a B.S. in Public Policy and Administration from St. Petersburg College.

Although highly unlikely, I have not given up hope on becoming a Soldier. Due to the current budgetary circumstances and strict recruitment standards, it seems as if it would take another major engagement resulting in another large troop surge for this dream to come true. I have an intense desire to serve my country and have the utmost respect for our troops. I am not naïve enough to think my country owes me a job after the choices I have made. Rather, I feel it is I who owes my country, my family and friends who have served, and especially the service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

If I Could Be a Soldier

If I could be a Soldier draped in tan and green
I would be the best Soldier this man’s Army’s ever seen
I would strap my pack to back, grab my rifle and canteen
Climb that icy mountain, traverse that dry ravine
March resolutely through the fog of uncertainty
Stand proudly at attention at every reveille
I would fight next to Pilot, Sailor and Marine
But I would always be a Soldier, true to oath and creed

If I could be a Soldier draped in tan and green
I would be the best Soldier this man’s Army’s ever seen
Borne in the Air, an Eagle soaring over trees
Sleep on desert sands and drink from alpine streams
Feast on grub and berry for nutrition and protein
Keep my mind and body strong, and my rifle clean
I’d be squared away with discipline and structured with routine
I would always be a Soldier, true to oath and creed
If I could be a Soldierdraped in tan and green
I would wade through rivers crimson under clouds of tangerine
To bring aid to fellow Soldier upon arrival on the scene
Bring comfort to chaos in this hellish dream
Before the devil takes a Soldier I would intervene
And send that devil back to Hell with his tail between his knees
I would tend to wounded Pilot, Sailor or Marine
But I would never leave a Soldier behind, true to oath and creed

If I could be a Soldier draped in tan and green
I would be a man of the Cavalry mounted on my steed
Stetson crisp, saber gripped and spurs polished to a sheen
Spend my time behind the lines moving swiftly and unseen
Charge into the fierce melee to dance among artillery
Not for glory nor recognition of chivalry and deed
Rather, shoulder firm upon my stock, eyes focused on my enemy
To guard my brother’s six o’clock, true to oath and creed
Alas, this man won’t permit me to be draped in tan and green
Thus, when it’s time for me to perish and leave this reverie
I will ride halfway down the trail to hell where the souls of Scouts are seen
In that shady meadow, encamped for eternity
I shall not dare to enter as I have not earned their fraternity
I will ponder and I will wander the perimeter aimlessly
Empty handed with no saber, rifle or canteen
Until I have proven myself worthy to enter Fiddler’s Green

– Michael J. Schaefer

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