The essay I wrote on why I wanted to be an Army officer, should have contained the text below…
Throughout my childhood my Dad always asked me, “J.D., what do you want to be when you grow up.” I wasn’t very good at school and I often skipped months out of the year by missing the bus and/or telling my parents I had a chronic diarrhea problem. In my naïve mind, I thought maybe I would be a border patrol officer.
Our reservation is along the Colorado River on the California and Arizona state boundaries. It also happens to border a relatively safe crossing to Mexico, and one reason we get lots of winter visitors who like to cross over to get their medicine and teeth worked on. But, most of the land is on the California side with a small land base in Arizona… just enough for a casino. Due to the close proximity of Mexico, growing up I would see border patrol officers. To me, the border patrol officers had it made. They have guns, cruise around in a 4×4, and chase people off their land that didn’t belong there. Sounds like a dream job for a Native person. But when I found out I couldn’t deport White people, I changed my mind….(I didn’t want to deport all White people, just the criminals). Needless to say, being a border patrol officer was no longer compelling to me.
Our Quechan Nation, has a strong warrior tradition. As a kid the tradition was evident as I witnessed our veterans lead events on my rez. I remember watching all the WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm vets lead our parades. It was mostly men, that resembled Sponge Bob (square body, skinny legs, and a flat butt) who would be holding the colors and you could see in their eyes the reminisce of their time in war. But it wasn’t just the men, throughout our history our matriarch carried and still carries the warrior spirit (I didn’t mention our women right away, because I didn’t want you to think they look like Sponge Bob too). Every moment I saw the Quechan warriors lead our ceremonies, I could feel my warrior spirit yearning and calling. I knew that I was one of those warriors, and no one had to tell me or could tell me otherwise.
Practically speaking, I knew eventually I would inherit a commod bod, and so as a kid I did my best to train as a soldier. I think for most kids, we would get a general understanding from TV, and for some training I thought the GI Joes could teach me. But our black and white TV had vice grips, and foil antenna. So even if we did get reception, I still wasn’t allowed to watch the cartoon because my Dad said I was already too violent. The one thing going for me was that I had nine Uncles in Vietnam, and one who I often spent summers with. My Uncle Gordie, a dark Quechan man who had a white spot on wrist where he would wear his watch every day. He was and still is our tribe’s Game Warden. Not only was he in war, but he knew about tracking, animals, shooting, hunting, fishing, fighting, etc. He was like Billy from Predator but real life. During our summers he would tell me some war stories when my Auntie Dodo wasn’t around. He told me about horrific helicopter crashes, adrenaline in a fire fight, the dancing mouse tattoo he got on his leg while drunk on leave. He taught me how to play poker, slam bones, and about the meaning of being a Quechan warrior through his actions. It was a good thing I had my Uncle(s).
Anyways… I wish this was part of my essay on why I wanted to join the Army.