Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Leif at the Recruiting Station - January 12, 1998 - Manhattan, Kansas - Age 23

During the fall semester of 1997, when Leif was working full time nights at Aggieville Pizza and trying to manage a schedule of classes at KSU, and falling so far behind in debt that he couldn't make it, he finally dropped out of school and decided to enlist in the army. Because the infantry was paying the largest enlistment bonus, and because it had the reputation as the "real" fighting army, the boots on the ground, and because he knew it would be a challenge, that's the specialty he chose. His dad had advised against it, as he felt Leif was better suited to other specialties, but Leif wanted to be a real soldier, and he felt that way the rest of his life, despite the problems he faced in the infantry.

This photo was taken at the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Manhattan, Kansas, the day that Leif had to report for duty to be sent to Fort Benning, Georgia for basic training. It was a very cold, gray winter day in Kansas. I was so cold I was still wearing my coat inside the station.

I don't know for sure why I was the only one to take him there that morning, but I believe it was because both Peter W. and Nikko had to work. I drove him there and stayed with him until they took him away. One of the recruiters took the photo of us together. I don't know what Leif was thinking as he left, but he was his usual stoic self and didn't show any emotion.

This was 16 days before his 23rd birthday, so he missed having his birthday with us and Nikko and had to spend it in basic training. We celebrated an early birthday for him in December when we had a large family gathering.

Because Leif had a couple of years of college credits and a very high ASVAB score, he was able to enlist as a private first class, two ranks higher than the usual enlistee, which also gave him a little bit more income. He didn't talk about this with me, but I suspect it also got him some razzing during basic.

Once he left me at the recruiting station that January day, we didn't see him again until the "mid-cycle" days in March when family was allowed to visit the soldiers at Fort Benning.

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