February 23, 2016
THE CHRONICLES OF BOY AND MAN
Since the time I joined the Army, my life has changed for the better. In the early years of my childhood, I had fun and played games with my childhood friends. I often recall those days as the dark days of my life. Life started becoming hard for me and I could not comprehend my parents’ divorce. The constant sounds of objects being thrown against the walls were not pleasant as I recall. In most cases, I drifted to sleep as the endless yelling became my bedtime stories. The only positive interactions between me and my parents were imaginary. This would only be during the times when I was asking myself about how I could make things better. Nevertheless, throughout the years, I became accustomed to the fighting, and I had to accommodate the notion that love would be projected in that form of dialogue.
On the evening of November 28th 2002, Fort Sam Houston San Antonio, TX, and I came back to my house after smoking and drinking with friends. The neighborhood had a name for us ‘rebels.’ My mother was already preparing the thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen and I was ready to have something for my stomach. I had spent the previous night talking to my father who at that time lived away from home. During the conversation, I tried to enquire about his availability for the special traditional dinner. In several occasions, my mother would mention that they were trying to make the marriage work and that being away was attributed to the fact that he had to do business. Sadly, my father did not appear or even call for the Holiday. Later, ai heard a knock at the door; a man whose face was hidden delivered some papers into my mother’s hands. All I can remember is my mother crouching into a corner and with her face covered with tears within no time. Some hours passed and my mother summoned me together with my brother. I was not ready for what was broadcasted as my mind was stripped with the dreams of togetherness and strong family bonds. Well, the day had finally come; the divorce papers were here which broke the 19 year bond and the lives of two young men and a woman would never be the same.
Whatever was happening through my teenage years was nothing compared to my childhood. My parents were undeniably accommodative and I can attest that I enjoyed being a child. For the entire neighborhood, I was the kid that was envied by many kids because of the countless toys I owned. Till today I am not able to figure out what instigated their disconnection. I was left with my mother and my elder brother was back and forth with my father. That however did not help as my life continued to take an opposite direction. I used to wake up, take breakfast then get out of the house, and would not return till nightfall. My relationship with the outside world was wild because of the environment I was brought up in. We went from military family to the slums of a two bedroom apartment at North East San Antonio which was not a life I had being used to. I was kicked out of the military base high school for fighting and from this point my downward spiral got out of hand.
I indulged in street life and become overly bitter. Once a star athlete, I had now become a loner. I graduated from my senior year at a brand new school where I made more enemies than friends. I never had stable relationships with girls as the idea of love was not fully instigated in my mind. The constant troubles caught up with me, when guns were drawn at me, my mother and brother within our home. This situation ultimately forced my mother to save my life by begging my father to take me in.
That summer I moved to Dallas, Texas with my father. At that time my father was a Sergeant Major, serving in the Army. I assumed his home would be a palace on my first approach. The idea that he was residing with his new family in a nice home was atrocious. The fact that I realized I had a new sister and brother was a lot for me to take in, and that fact highly interfered with my focus. I recovered from the shock and owe. I often thought about my grandfather who fought in World War II. I would dream and feel honored to meet my uncles Roland Bounds who I was named after and Henry Johnson, who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor attacks. This made the military career a family tradition. My father shattered those ideas after what had transpired in my young life.
The thought of conforming to the family tradition made me sick as I did not fancy Army life and nor did I have a motivation for it. Besides, not all men that I knew were successful as some had great achievements while others failed. He would often try to converse with me saying life is what you make it and it is not always a fairy tale. “Junior, you are not serious. What do you want to do in life? You always sit around the whole day doing nothing join the Navy, Army, Chair force…” I had to get used to those phrases.
My father pressed me every day to do something that was not totally my preference. I decided to enroll in school because jobs were not calling. The fact remained that I had so much hate in my mind that failure was unavoidable. At one instance, this hate exploded and I let it all run out, a herculean burst of words from deep within. Basically, this was consequential to me moving to Mississippi where my grandparents resided. I felt accommodated and comfortable living there with them, for they took me and my brother in.
A city life upbringing, accompanied by the delta lifestyle eventually did not go well for me. This prompted me to indulge into drugs and other ungodly actions. Slowly without knowing, I infiltrated the gangs in the area and became one of them. We used to drink alcohol, smoke, bang, and break into cars. My grandparents noticed and they had to intervene. After a lengthy conversation, it appeared that they might have pumped some sense into my mind. I came back to my senses slowly and realized that what I was doing was actually wrong. From then, I made up my mind to go back to my father’s place and accept the offer of joining the army. I knew it was time I changed my ways. I figured if I was going to do this, he would turn out to be the best advisor because of the experience.
I went back to Texas, and just as I thought my father made all the necessary arrangements. After some time, I received a letter accepting my application. I had mixed feelings at that moment. My friends used to fill my head with negative perception regarding the current Army and what to expect when I get there. With all that in mind, I felt challenged but kept on with the determination to pursue that career path.
On September 2004, I left for basic training. Right from the moment that I stepped on that bus, I came to terms with the fact that I had to forget everything related to comfort. I arrived at the camp where I found the beds to be unusually small. Moreover, we had to wake up every day early in the morning, something I had not being used to. The Drill Sergeants seemed a bit harsh to everyone but there was a lot to comprehend on my side. The Drill Sergeant really had it for me. He would yell commanding me around to push harder and to stop slowing down. He figured that I was more physically fit and that I tried to blend in with slower recruits so as to save energy, ‘relaxing Jackson’ as he referred me to. The physical training got me over the edge. At some point, I would miss home, remembering the freedom that I used to have and contemplated going back, but something kept on pushing me.
As my career progressed, I completed missions after missions and duty assignments came and went. In 2006, I was deployed to Iraq with the rotation. My unit was the 325th AVN Combat Battalion. That was one of the scariest deployments as there were a lot of deaths resulting from down aircrafts, IED attacks and sniper fire. A gas attack that was executed near my checkpoint transformed me into a praying man. I did not know that attack would later be consequential to my lung condition. With all my training and all the knowledge, I survived the devil’s grips.
At least, my experience from the first day incorporating basic training and combat deployments that followed made me learn a couple of things that I did not know about or even imagine of. Discipline is one of them. The aforementioned is an underrated trait that configures your life to conform to life’s required standards set by the society. I used to be untidy and my life was nothing to brag about. I used to run the streets, I was not a clean person, did not brush my shoes, iron my clothes or even make my bed. All that changed through that one Drill Sergeant and other great Leaders that followed. I turned out to be a responsible and disciplined young man.
Throughout my time in the Army, I learnt several things. One day a colleague asked what would happen if we went out on the mission that he referred to as stupid and end up getting stranded. The answer was simple; through what we were taught and what I pledged for my country, perseverance and teamwork would be the best option to get us home. The gas attack and other environmental hazards of combat seemed to have adversely affected me. Unfortunately, as the ‘Sergeant Bounds Roland’ I had to medically retire from the Army. I now use the acquired knowledge to assist me in my civilian career field as a logistics representative with General Dynamics Land Systems.
The chronicles of my youth challenges from a distraught young lad to a mature and responsible man took a lot of effort from different parties. The Army changed me and saved me from the effects of negative peer pressure, drugs and gang indulgence which had greatly affected me. The Army taught me various aspects like discipline, time management, perseverance and leadership. These beliefs and others alike gave me the strength to combat my inner demons. This mentality propelled me to approach my father on a one on one, boy to man, man to man, and Sergeant to Sergeant conversation. As such, that boy inside me has a conscious voice. It is safe to say the voice spoke loud and had an immense effect. To this day, even though we are not completely in the most adorable state, my father and family are in good terms. We still maintain a constant communication, whilst my mother is safe, calm and sound collecting his retirement.