Editor’s note: David Kriegel served in the U.S. Navy from 1974-1994, all over the world. He is 68 and lives in Mishawaka, Indiana.
How would you tell your 14 year old self if you could go back in time and tell them your future? I grew up in a great time for Lima, from 1950-1972. We had wonderful schools, great summers, ride your bike, Boy Scout summer camp, the county fair and parades. Riding my bike delivering papers for The Lima News, there was no way I could conceive I would be a career Navy pilot.
I ended up entering the military late at age 24. Why? Probably to impress my father a World War II combat Pacific Marine and for a sense of adventure from watching too many exciting war movies. With all I ended up doing I may not have impressed him but I know I made him proud (and sometimes scaring myself). I ended up flying and living all over the world far removed from Lima. At age 14, I could not imagine living in of all places Iceland and having my son born there while on a Navy Admiral’s staff.
Now I have become a volunteer military chaplain, performing military burial honors for our fallen veterans over 100 times a year including traveling back to Lima. I tell all families at funerals this: Once you join any branch of the service, at any time, you become one with all veterans. You do become part of a band of brothers. Why? Because once you raise your hand to volunteer, you are putting your life on the line to protect your nation, your home town, your family and friends. You do not know what is going to happen, perhaps war, during your time of enlistment. So this short story is for all the Lima veterans. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for what you did or are doing now to protect me, an old veteran.