A Personal Note
Collins "C.E." Wynn
(This is from a note C.E. sent to a group of friends in early December 2016.)
Hello my brothers, I've got something to share with you today having to do with professional milestones and the ever popular bucket list.
I joined the Guard in the fall of 1963 during my senior year of High School. My family did not have the means of providing any level of education after HS so I was left to my own devices. After completing Initial Entry Training on active duty, I was commissioned early from OCS (AMA) at age 19 and married about a month later (all in summer of 1966). I enrolled at UAH in the fall of 1967 took a few courses over a couple of years then had my first son which effectively ended a college career (the expense was too great for a one income family).
Over the following 40 years or so I took a few courses along as time, money and personal situations would allow.
My lack of a degree was a professional burden I carried everywhere I went. I was always wary of collegiate conversations because I had no answer for the questions of "Where did you graduate?", "Where did you go to school?" or "What was your major?" I was painfully aware that most all of the officers and many of the NCOs around me were degreed and many had advanced degrees including a number with PhDs. This was also true of my colleagues from my civilian careers as well. Whatever professional successes I had were all based on performance (dogged determination, mission focus, bulldog tenacity and things of that nature).
My Officer Efficiency Reports and civilian performance ratings gathered over the years are outstanding in all respects which has always been very satisfying to me. Unfortunately, my lack of a degree hindered a possible senior military career and closed a number of military and civilian assignment doors. As disappointing as it is to say, it is simply the truth. Although I have now retired six times.
So it is with a great deal of pride I announce my graduation with honors from the University of Alabama on December 10, 2016. I no longer have to avoid conversations... but now I have few to talk to. The University offered to mail my degree but I have elected to 'walk' because I want photographic evidence to accompany my transcript. Who knows, someday I may be asked to provide validation perhaps even to St. Peter.
I am also proud to say I funded my education entirely without assistance from the military or the VA. I was not eligible for, nor qualified for, nor entitled to any of the military programs offered to my active duty counterparts so I had to go it on my own.
The other major goal on my bucket list was Special Forces (SF) qualification and that is just not going to be. I lacked only the last field phase of the SFQC when I broke my leg. That broken leg (and another a short time later immediately after Desert Storm) abruptly ended both the SFQC and my military career. Because of this situation I am always careful about my choice of words used when describing my 15 year career in SF making a point to never claim SF qualification nor even imply it. I describe myself as a Special Operations soldier rather than a Special Forces soldier.
Most civilians don't get the distinction but it is important to me that I say it that way. It is enough for me to be seen in the company of such men! De Opresso Liber!
Trouble on a Double Date
This episode begins a few days prior to a double date that Mike Crowl and I went on to the Lee High football game in Hartselle. I believe it was the first one of the season. For various reasons Mike and I didn't play football that year which I regret sincerely,but I digress.
Mike and I both went together to ask his father's permission to use the family car. That was no small task. After pleading and begging he relented, but issued a bone chilling caveat. If anything happens to that car you're in trouble or some other pronouncement that made us think twice whether we really wanted to go through with it.
That Friday night we picked up our dates, proceeded to the game, and afterwards got into the car for our trip back to Huntsville. To both of our horrors the car was acting funny and visions of being tortured on the rack or skinned alive sent shock waves through every fiber of our being. There was something wrong with the car for sure and I could see the sweat forming on Mike's brow and feel an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The first gas station we found we stopped and a mechanic popped the hood to take a look and found it was only a spark plug wire that had come loose.So we thought. After putting it back on we went on our merry way relieved that we would live another day.A few miles down the road a couple of friends passed us and shouted, "Is there something wrong with your car?" Knowing instantly who the culprits were Mike told them to pull over. everyone thought we'd have a good laugh, but Mike had other ideas.
As soon as the cars stopped two of our friends jumped out laughing.I will keep those two anonymous as to avoid embarrassment. As Mike and I exited the car he, in a rage, tried to jump on both of the perpetrators. One fled to the back of the car but the other couldn't get away and to avoid serious damage got Mike in a bearhug and held on for dear life. I could do nothing, but laugh my head off at the roadside fracas.Eventually they both tired, a few words were exchanged, and we went on our way.
There was no lasting affects to our friendships over that prank, but we all learned that night that you don't spit in the wind or mess with Superman's cape, but most importantly never touch another person's car because you never know the state of mind that the driver is in.
Like My Father,
I Did Not Go To College
My father was a 5th grade educated man. Was his achievements in life less probable than one of higher academic status?
He married in the Forties and raised four children and provided for the needs of each, which is a great achievement in itself. My father self-educated himself in the Fifties. He loved architecture, drafting, and mechanical engineering. He was driven to learn all he could in these fields. My father could read any book on how to do something and immediately go achieve that task brilliantly. He was always excited in space exploration and chose it as his occupation.
This is how we relocated to Huntsville, Al. in the fifties. He was a engineer. He remained working in this industry until his death.
Is he the exception to the rule or could it be some other explanation? Maybe it could have been his will , sacrifice, and drive . Could it be because he took responsibility and held himself accountable for his future? So I repeat, "Does one really need to be highly educated to be successful?"
I think not. I myself never completed a college degree.I started at the entry level of my profession and reached the highest level of my profession in which I served my last 15 years before retiring. I feel education is a key to success but not the only avenue one can choose. Rightfully there are many fields that require higher education and I for one give thanks to those who were dedicated to those professions. When one thinks about it, all occupations are vital and tied to all of our success in society.
I believe we all were put on this earth with purpose and the gift given to us by our maker to contribute to society and give back during our journey. We just have to recognize what that is.
Memphis, TN - Still continuing to catch up on submissions. Mike Crowl's story this week opens the door for more stories on why some of you elected not to go to college. We all had our reasons for the paths we took as we left the halls of Lee High School, many of them dependent upon financial restrictions and personal desires for our chosen path. Again I ask any of you who wish to send in your own story for all our classmates to read.
My brother Don (back), my mother, and me and our TV on East Clinton Street.
The Vintage Television
1965 TV Part 1
From Our Mailbox
Subject: No Mail This Week.