Bil Browning

Memorial Day Open Thread

Filed By Bil Browning | May 30, 2011 10:15 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Memorial Day, open thread

We're taking today off for the holiday. This open thread will be our only content today other than any breaking news.

So here's the question of the day: Have you served in the military? If so, which branch and rank? Were you dismissed because of DADT?

Three of my brothers served (Air Force, Marines, & Navy) and my father was in the National Guard, but I didn't even make it all the way through the Boy Scouts.


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I served in the Army from 1994 to 1998, reaching the rank of specialist before letting my contract expire. Knowing at that point I was never NOT going to be gay, and knowing the homophobia that ran rampant due in part to DADT, I voluntarily left the service, receiving an honorable discharge. I know a few others who were not so lucky as to be able to wait until their contract expired and were discharged under the idiotic law, and can only hope that this repeal is implemented swiftly so we can serve with the honor and distinction with all of the other types and creeds of the American soldier.

Scott Burkey Scott Burkey | May 30, 2011 11:09 AM

Ah, but Jason you did. Unless you were drummed out of the military or spent time in the brig - you DID serve with honor and distinction. It is our military apparatus which doesn't, and not just where our Rainbow Warriors are concerned. Remember Tailhook?

Being the ancient, decrepit drag queen I am I kept waiting for that draft letter to show up all through Granada, Panama, and the Gulf wars. I was determined that if they had the nerve to call on me that I would show up in sequins and heels. Much as I love and honor those, like yourself, who chose to serve I simply could not bring myself to do so. I cannot set aside my convictions, nor my sense of outrage to fight for a government that denies me the right to do so openly and honestly. My father and I are the only men in my family out of the past seven generations who did not serve in one of the branches of the military. My father because the army doctors declared his knees were crap, and his auditory range would leave him deaf as a post to incoming mortar and artillery. Me... well, let's just say I burned the closet at the age of 11 and nobody will make me crawl back in, ever.

I give you all the respect in the world for your decision to serve, and I thank you for it. My political distaste for the recent wars aside, and the fact that I'm pushing 50 not withstanding, if the time comes when our nation faces a threat like it did in 1914 and 1945 then I will proudly stand beside you on the battlefront. Just don't give me a rifle, I'd be useless. Give me a .45 long colt, like the one I own, and I can write my name in cursive with it. But I can't hit an elephant in the ass at 10 paces with 12 gauge!

US Navy retired as ‘First Class Petty Officer, Avionics Technician, Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist’ from 1985 to 2005.
Honorable Discharge at 20 years.
Intersexed/Transgender.
My IS was discovered early in my career but the command insisted I was valuable enough to keep and If I was discharged it would affect readiness of the aircraft I worked on. I almost got kicked out right at the 18 year mark (also known as Sanctuary) but it was after the 18 year mark and weren’t allowed to do anything.

DADT, while I was in DADT was a fucking pain in the ass. Homophobes sprang up over night when DADT rolled out. The command I was in had a backlash against President Clinton’s waffled promise to remove the military regulations that barred service of Gay and Lesbian service members. We lost a few who just walked in to the CO’s office and said “go ahead and kick us out”. So he did. A few weeks later a witch hunt started up and we lost nearly 30 more people. Gay, Lesbian, Bi and 3 FtM and 2 MtF Trans types. Then a week or so later, one person that wasn’t picked up in the witch hunt attempted suicide. After that the squadron was crippled due to lack of personnel and trained personnel.
To date, I’ve only ever seen DADT applied against someone who’s Gay or Lesbian and its always under the ‘Don’t Tell’ section of the law. I have never seen or heard of ANYONE ever being brought up on charges for Asking, Harassing or Pursuing. Not a one. I’ve seen and experienced all 3 of those from the day DADT started to the day I retired. I lost over 100 coworkers who were Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender and Intersex. All of them friends, all of them Navy Family.

Tailhook, hey my squadron was involved! Omg, I was non-flyer and not involved but our officers were there. The Secretary of the Navy and the CNO were ordered by Bush 1 to go to every command and speak to every officer involved with Tailhook. Our command told us to do a quick field day and bail so there would be no one to talk too (yeah, they were the kind who would have shredded paperwork if they thought it would have helped. So, when the door was opened by our Chief and the Secretary of the Navy and the CNO were in the door way ….um… >. I was on top of a table, a male coworker had one foot on my belt and a knee on my shoulder with his crotch pressed in to my face while holding a black lace bra in his hand which he promptly shot (think rubber band) across the room to the half naked young woman hanging over the changing room partition. Me and my 2 coworkers ran out as quick as we could…I’m not sure if the chief was joking about a heart attack but we didn’t see too much of him after then.

Technically speaking, I’m not retired I’m in the Fleet Reserve. (its just a fancy way to say retired)
I still work in the same field and on the same aircraft and my primary customer is the US DoD. But I also still help my military family who are part of the GLBT community as best I can.

I served in the pre-DADT Air Force as a Staff Sergeant Avionics Sensor Technician until I was sidelined by Leukemia. I outed myself to my roommate after a few beers one night. He was very cool about it. After that he changed the subject when the fag jokes started. I ran into one of the Lt's from my unit in a gay bookstore one evening - he winked and told me there were quite a few of us up on site. I went about my business, and he went about his.

US Army 1986-1992. Honorable Discharge, pre-DADT.

Three years Us Army Infantry (1981-1984) Honorably Discharged for completion of service. I was seventeen years old at the time I went in. After telling my mother that I felt like I should have been born female it was decided the Army would make a man of me LOL.I took Basic Training and AIT ( advanced infantry training)at Fort Benning Georgia. I was then handpicked and offered the opportunity to be stationed in Berlin Germany while processing through the 21st replacement unit in Frankfurt I voluntarily accepted the assignment. I was originally in B co 4th battalion sixth infantry but because of a switch to the regimental system my unit changed to the 6th Battalion 502nd infantry affiliated with the 101st air assault FT Campbell Kentucky. I specialized in heavy weapons and was an M60 machine gunner. I performed guard duty twice at Spandau Prison for those of you who know what that means I ask that you don't ask me questions about it. I traveled into and out of the Former East Germany and East Berlin when it was known as part of the soviet Union numerous times. Being stationed in Berlin meant being stationed 110 miles behind what was then called the Iron Curtain in a beautiful city with a wall around it. I am very proud of my service and grateful to have had the opportunity to serve my Country in such a unique place at such a unique time. Since this is Memorial Day we should never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country right or wrong I believe we owe it to them to try our hardest to make America a country worth dying for. Their families should not be forgotten for their loss and the sacrifice they made they have my condolences.

I retired from the Army (mostly national guard) 5 years ago. I served in Iraq in a military intelligence unit. It was a great experience even though I realized we had no business being there. DADT wasn't an issue in our National Guard units. But I am so happy to see it (almost see it) go into the history books. My three sons have served in the military; I have one active national guard, military intelligence Arabic linguist and another son in the Air Force in finance working on a degree in Engineering. I had it easy compared to the guys on the front lines; they are my heros.

I was in the US Navy pre-DADT, November 1978 -December 1980. I was M2F transsexual. The command I was attached to was a nuclear submarine. I went to a Navy Chaplain to ask his advice after being beaten and sexually assaulted by another service member. He told me that if I reported the incident I would be discharged. My assailant assumed that my inaction was tantamount to consent. After a second rape, I reported my attacker and was processed by separations for homosexual acts within 3 weeks. I was stripped of my SS designation and the chief who was in charge of me for the last 3 weeks of my service gave me an abysmal final evaluation. I don't know exactly what they would discharge a service member who reports a sexual assault today for, but I seriously doubt that much has changed in the military's handling of such matters. I was an E-4 at discharge, General under Honorable conditions.

US Coast Guard. 1982 - 1986. Stationed at Kodiak Support Center, Alaska and Long Beach Search and Rescue, California. I was never investigated or discharged under DADT. But my lover was. She had just been promoted to 2nd CPO and was investigated/discharged under DADT.

My father is retired US Navy... 1960 - 1980, Boiler Tender - 6tours in nam.
My uncle who raised me, US Navy... 1962 - 1973, Fire Control Tech - 7tours in nam.
The funniest Uncle, US Marine Corp... 1968 - 1970, Vietnam, Purple Heart.
An another Uncle, US Navy... 1970 - 1976, US Navy, 1tour in nam.
My Sister just retired, US Army, MP.... 3tours Iraq, 1Gitmo, 1Korea, 1Haiti, 1Panama... her list goes on.

And my daughter, US Coast Guard. She officially shipped off to Basic on Tuesday. I told her... In the "olden days" women who enlisted into the military were tagged as TWO THINGS:

1-- whores
or
2-- queers

They don't have movies about it and no one ever talks about it. It's a untold story. But you have this entire family who will tell you some real stories.