Veterans Day Q&As: Mel Bauman
Name: Mel Bauman
Branch of Military: Army
High School: Ottawa Hills
What were the parameters of your service?
“Well, I was drafted in 1965, which is a long time ago, and I retired in 2005; so I did 40 years. I did two years of active duty, then I was released from active duty, and I immediately went in the army reserve, and I stayed in the reserve for another 38 years.”
Do you have any positive or prominent stories to share?
“I think the most positive thing is that I was fortunate enough to have 40 years in the military, which was a great experience. I met a lot of wonderful people. I had a lot of very enjoyable experiences—some weren’t overly pleasant, but most of them were. I learned an awful lot from it. I was able to go to a lot of schools in the military, and it was a very rewarding career. Then in 1970, I started working full time for the army reserve in Civil Service, and so I was what they call dual-status—I was in the military plus I was working civil service. I was there all the time—same thing as being on active duty, except I was doing two different jobs. That was a lot of fun.”
What advice would you give for people looking into serving?
“Well, I think it’s not cut out for everybody. I saw some people come in, and they didn’t do well. Most of them did, but I would say that, if anybody was thinking about it, they’d need to look at it. It’s a very regimented lifestyle. You don’t have a whole lot of say about what you’re going to do and what you’re not going to do, but, once you get into it and you get used to it, it’s very enjoyable, and you learn a lot. So I would say that my advice for anybody that is thinking about it, look into it very thoroughly and talk to people that have been in, and then make your decision. But, I would recommend it for people, sure, for anybody, because it was very good for me.”
How does Veterans Day make you feel?
“I’m very proud of Veterans Day. I feel very fortunate that I was able to be in the length of time that I was, and I’m very proud to say that I served my country for that long. So, Veterans Day is a very special day for me.”
Do you go to any assemblies or celebrations?
“I go to the one at Forest Hills Central; that’s a great program. They do a fantastic job over there, and then I usually go to one or two others. It depends on what’s going on.”
Is there anything you wish people knew about serving?
“It’s a wonderful experience. It’s a good learning experience; you meet a great group of people.”