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Old 04-01-2019, 10:24 AM   #1
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Any Interest

If nothing else, I would like to capture my life for my kids. This is what I have so far and as I am resigning in June, I may have more time to add in everything past 18 (Army career, DoD, FAA). My question is, is this of ANY interest to ANYONE?

My wife says I should write a book about my life and maybe someday I will. Compared to where I came from, it still boggles my mind. I was born in the Appalachians in Pennsylvania in the mid 1960s. I was the youngest of 10. My dad worked down in Newark, New Jersey; three and a half hours away. He would leave on Sunday evenings, sleep in his car all week and come home on the weekends. He did that for 35 years.

My mom died when I was 7 from cancer. Social workers tried to put us with different families but it just did not work out, I balled my eyes out for my Brothers and Sisters until they put us back together. Three of my five brothers were drafted during the Vietnam. I was basically raised by my four older sisters and one brother.

Growing up, we were probably the second worse family in the entire area we lived in. We lived between a dairy farm and a chicken farm. I remember sneaking into the milk house get a gallon of milk after all the farmers went home. I remember sneaking into the chicken house to grab eggs for supper. We learned that sneaking into the cornfield early in the season you could get edible cow corn for supper. I remember sitting on the tailgate of our station wagon, going down back country roads, looking for soda bottles in the ditches, to turn in the deposit for money and buying bread. I couldn’t tell you when I first owned gloves or mittens. Multiple layers of mismatched socks seemed to work.

I started earning money as a kid by shoveling cow crap, chicken crap, pig crap, and ultimately human crap.

The human crap is a story of itself. Living in the country and with 10 kids, our septic system was always backing up. I took it upon myself to look at the the septic tank to find out what was wrong. Come to find out, the old clay/ceramic pipe drainage from the house to the tank had collapsed when they drove over it with a truck in the backyard when my brothers decided to pull a truck back there to reshingle the house. I dug up the entire drainage pipe, replaced it with PVC, created a drain field from the septic tank to the back yard and then looked at the tank itself. It was FULL! I spent the better part of a month using a 5 gallon bucket and a wooden plank to clean out the septic tank and put it into my neighbor’s cow manure spreader. When I was finished, my Dad gave me $100. That was like hitting the lottery for a 12 year old! For that entire Summer, I hit all up all the neighbors up within a bike ride distance, offering the same service. I bet I cleaned out 7-8 different septic tanks at $100 a pop. Living large as a 12 year old! (my Sisters were not too crazy how I smelled after a day’s work). Worst memory is pulling out a 25 foot tape worm from a septic tank. Hazards of the job (it died within about an hour of being exposed to the sun). Was a sight to see!
One by one, my Brothers and Sisters moved out the house. My next sibling (Sister) moved out when I was 14. My Dad was still only coming home on the weekends. I was on my own to take care of the animals (dogs and cats), take care of the household chores (meals, dishes and laundry) get myself up for school and take care of homework. I guess I learned responsibility at an early age. Today, that would probably be considered child abuse. For me, that was absolute freedom; do what needed to be done without anyone breathing over your shoulder. I even could tell my Principle that I would not be in for school because it was turkey/deer season or a good day to go fishing. As long as my grades were good, he was ok with that (small private religious school, 65 students K-12. Some classes, I was the only student. Think one room school house setting). He knew my situation. I still think I had the best childhood.

I was not a stellar student in school but I was good at math. I didn’t particularly like it but I was good at it. Our small K-8 school in Appalachia was starting to outgrow itself. They had already moved the highschool to a neighboring town 20 miles away. As the class sizes grew too large, they looked for other solutions. The school board decided to offer high math students the opportunity to take Algebra (not offered in the small school) at the same large town school I would be attending anyway in a year. I took them up on their offer. That single decision allowed me to graduate highschool one year early as State rules say 4 years of higher math, regardless of when taken, is credit. That meant that as a Junior (11th grade in the small private religious school) if I doubled up my English and History, I could graduate a year early. I graduated Highschool at 16.


So after graduating from high school I still needed to find a good job besides baling hay. I got an actual real job working on a chicken farm. The Owner had three hundred thousand chickens that laid eggs several times a day. This was a massive Egg Farm Processing Plant. I start out shoveling chicken crap and moved up to processing eggs, boxing them and shipping them out. It paid okay money but this is not something I want to do the rest of my life. Because I graduated earlier than all my peers, I decided I wanted to do something before they all started their next school year. Because my dad and all my brothers had a military background, I decided I want her to go in the military. I contacted all local recruiters and the Army seemed the best bet. That was where my dad and all my brothers served. The only thing they offered me was Field Artillery or Defense Artillery. Defense Artillery required a 6-month wait as it required a security clearance. Not knowing what that consisted of, I opted to enlist in field artillery. I did basic training and One Station Unit Training (OSUT) in Fort Sill Oklahoma during the hottest time of the year, July through September. I made it through Basic Training and my first unit was 2d Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, Bamberg Germany

Part of the enlistment process requires a recruit to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. This test is several hours long. During the test I notice an attractive girl and after the test I contacted the Recruiter and got her number. This gal eventually went on to become my wife (35th Anniversary this year!). After I signed up and had a future Basic Training Date, her and I started dating. we dated from April (signed the enlistment paperwork on 1 April, joke was on me!) to the time I went in basic training in July .
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:36 AM   #2
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In a similar vein as “The Glass Castle” and “Educated.”

I would definitely read your book.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:39 AM   #3
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Good stuff and yes, interested to see what happens after 18.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:41 AM   #4
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An interesting story alone does not make for a successful book. You’d have to be a (very) good writer as well, that’s a rare skill unto itself. There are probably far fewer good writers than good stories. Sorry.

Two friends of mine wrote books. One was a great writer, as evidenced by articles he’d written and presentations he’d given for years before he attempted a book - he sailed around the world singlehanded (a feat few have accomplished) and that book has been a commercial success. The other book was an epic life story/autobiography - that wasn’t of interest to anyone but his immediate family, if that.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:42 AM   #5
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I would like to read more of the story......
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:49 AM   #6
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Thanks for the support. I just have to figure out how to capture 32 years in the Intelligence Community without going to jail. The running joke is that if I told you, I would have to cut off your head and put it in a safe. Wild times!
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:00 AM   #7
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Thanks for the support. I just have to figure out how to capture 32 years in the Intelligence Community without going to jail. Wild times!
That shouldn't be too hard.
Quote:
We suddenly needed someone to get to [redacted] quickly. I was chosen because of my [redacted] background and [redacted] skills.

When I got off the plane, I was met by [redacted], who briefed me on the situation. Since I knew the [redacted], I elected to go directly to [redacted] and [redacted].
Pretty exciting stuff!
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:03 AM   #8
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:22 AM   #9
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L....great story growing up. I grew up in a similar situation but shoveled coal instead of crap to buy food in my early teens. in my early 20's, I ended up in the Air Force and on a nuclear missile launch crew with access to the NATO War Plan. I can't write about that as I had a Top Secret Crypto clearance. But the rest of my "story" would be good.

The only thing is that the younger generation (our children) probably wouldn't relate to the stuff we went through to get to a comfortable life, like we have now.

Good writer or not, your story would be thought provoking, a family historical account of your struggles and accomplishments, but not well understood.

Write it and give it to your children someday.
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Old 04-01-2019, 12:01 PM   #10
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Write it and give it to your children someday.
That's the bottom line. I would have given a lot to know so many things about my father's life, especially during World War II and his earlier life. But he wasn't willing to talk about any of it.
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Old 04-01-2019, 12:10 PM   #11
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Write it, hire someone to edit it and publish it on Amazon. You can give to children of course but if it is there then other people can read it (or not). Midpack is right. Being able to write an engaging story is a huge part of it. Hiring someone to edit would help. I know that some people who self-publish on Amazon do that. I don't know how much that costs though.
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Old 04-01-2019, 12:46 PM   #12
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"I didn’t particularly like it but I was good at it."
Write it all down, and read it out loud for recording purposes. Great story.
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Old 04-01-2019, 01:14 PM   #13
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Awesome story.
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Old 04-01-2019, 01:56 PM   #14
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I would like to read more of the story......
+1
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Old 04-01-2019, 01:59 PM   #15
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Awesome story.
I am living proof of the "American Dream". Thank you all for your encouragement.

For anyone that needs to sleep at night:

https://www.americanforeignrelations...f-secrets.html
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Old 04-01-2019, 04:42 PM   #16
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Nice read.

Your career highlights would be very interesting to your family. I had a family member who had a similar career, and never got a single glimpse of the war stories.

My **** was fish guts in freezing weather
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:27 PM   #17
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Write for the people you want to read it. I was engrossed in your OP. You can tell your story just like that—no need for a paid editor or ghost writer. If you want a wider audience to read it, put it on Amazon as other suggested, or have a blog with chapters. If you want to really publish it, it’s not hard to find advice on how to approach agents. It’s most unlikely any book will become published but if that’s your dream, go for it!
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:57 PM   #18
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Really entertaining story, so far!
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Old 04-02-2019, 06:08 AM   #19
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Your story, so far, is quite interesting and I would definitely read your book. Yes, it does sound a bit like Educated which I enjoyed.
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Old 04-02-2019, 06:47 AM   #20
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Hi -- Enjoyed the story. Hints of Hillbilly Elegy with your Appalachian background.
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