As we honored the 20 million living veterans on Nov. 11, 2020, and began the peaceful transfer of power to the new administration, I was reminded of something that happened to me in 1966 while I was serving as a naval flight officer in Vietnam.
One of my responsibilities was to coordinate air operations with the swift boats. To make sure I did this effectively, I was asked to ride on a mission one night. During the operation, I asked the commander, a lieutenant junior grade like me, why he had volunteered for such a dangerous mission. (Riding on that boat was the scariest thing I have ever done.) He told me that he was from Alabama and wanted a career in politics at the local and national level and that volunteering for such a dangerous mission was necessary, politically, in his state.The above excerpt was originally published in Military.com. Please click here to view the full op-ed.