My whole life, I never considered myself special or anything but ordinary. I entered the army by way of the ROTC program at the University of Idaho. That was okay with me. You see, the Vietnam build-up hadn’t started yet, and public opinion of the armed services was still positive.
We lived in a different nation then. The post-WWII glow still fueled
our sense of moral superiority, and Cold War fears fired our patriotism. Right
or wrong, Americans believed in the institutions of America, and if you had
doubts, John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Randolph Scott would set you straight. In
those days, a young man swore his allegiance to God and Country with pride. All
that came naturally to me, and I enjoyed the ROTC drills, the uniforms and
the camaraderie. I received my college degree and was commissioned a
second lieutenant in the U.S. Army on the same day. What could be bad about
My earliest memories are of my father, the classic, old-fashioned
military man. He went on active duty the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor
and served six years as an infantry officer and military policeman. Dad
a big man, but he stood ramrod straight, carried himself with authority, and
people listened when he spoke. As a youngster, I recall he seemed always
in his pinks and greens and Sam Browne belt and always in charge. To
my young eyes, my father looked ten feet tall.
- Lance describes his father in terms that present not so much
a close, nurturing paternal figure but an officer with a rigid military
bearing, often absent for extended periods of time. Lance likely
did not have the intensity and extent of paternal involvement necessary
for optimum personality development. This dearth of paternal role
modeling and support may have rendered Lance less emotionally resilient
in later years.