This is part of a series of nodes titled Sixteen Years Before The (Antenna) Mast: My Life In The Bush With SIGINT. The previous node in the series is Everybody Hated The French. Your understanding of what the heck is going on in here will NOT be increased if you read Army Security Agency.

I arrived home from Karlsruhe (change at Frankfurt Flughafen and JFK) in a mild state of shock and disorientation. I still hadn't come to terms with the fact that the Army had refused me re-enlistment and between that and a severe cold I'd picked up somewhere along the line I spent the Christmas season of 1982 pretty well out of it. I did check in with my Reserve assignment, the 99th Collection & Processing Company at Fort Meade; it was an Army-level strategic intel company which went to the field about once a decade, and on discovering this, I said the hell with it. Having gone through inprocessing in December, I outprocessed in January 1983 and got my conditional release.* Driving home, I stopped by the armory in Greenbelt and wound up transferring to the Maryland National Guard's C Company, 1/115 Infantry as a supply sergeant.

Some of my time with C Company has already been discussed in this writeup, and the rest of it really isn't worth talking about. Most of my time between drills was being taken up with my job as a courier, drinking, and/or going to science fiction conventions with my friends, and I honestly didn't pay too much attention to my supply sergeant job, having come to the conclusion early on that if they wanted me to do a full-time job, they ought to be paying me accordingly. Or at least giving me some extra drill time here and there so I could get things done between drills. It didn't end well. The unit went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky for annual training, and I had no idea where anything was when I got there. This pissed off everyone, including me, and in the end the company commander chose to transfer me to one of the perennially understrength rifle platoons, which was fine with me.

Eventually, of course, I met the future Mrs. Wombat at the World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore. One thing led to another, we got married in early November, and a few days later I went down to the armory with my new bride to get my conditional release so I could transfer to a unit in Minnesota. While my friends may have thought that I was insane to marry someone after only knowing them for three months (and this woman in particular), they were at least discreet about it. Not so my first sergeant. When he got the news, he stared at me in frank disbelief. "You only knew this girl for three months, and now you're moving to Minnesota?" I nodded, smiling. "Is her pussy made of gold or something?" I cracked up, while the wife tried to burn holes in the First Shirt's forehead with her gaze. I got the paperwork and said goodbye to C Company.

About the trip to Minnesota, the less said, the better; it began with an extremely drunk stag/farewell party thrown by my friends at the Brickskeller, threats of divorce at both ends of the drive, and an inauspicious arrival in Minneapolis on the heels of a blizzard. At the end of it all, we found ourselves splitting a house with two other guys my wife had known from Minnesota fandom, dead broke, and with no prospect of decent income in the offing. There was nothing for it but to go back to the Army again, although I didn't do as well as Kipling's reservist.

So I talked to a recruiter about going back to my old MOS, went on a protein diet to get my weight down, and when all was said and done they turned me down - for something they should have caught right away. The combination of an article 15 and being overweight was enough to earn me a re-enlistment code of "2", which as one recruiter told me during the course of a shouting match in the recruiting station meant "They'll take you back if the Chinese invade! Maybe!" So active duty was off the program. The recruiter sullenly referred me to a psyops battalion at Fort Snelling, and I resigned myself to trying to make a go of it on civvy street.

*A conditional release is a waiver that gives a Reservist or Guardsman six months to find a new unit, during which time the soldier is not penalized for failing to appear at drill, which is usually the case.

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