Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 10, 2018

My Veteran’s Day 2018

After I retired in 1992 I kept saying to myself, “I’m not a soldier”, when I shaved in the morning. Then, I shook my head. I couldn’t comprehend not being a soldier.  I felt like I was a soldier on a really long leave.

When someone says, “Thank you for your service” I respond with a less than inspiring, modest, almost perfunctory “You’re welcome.”   It’s awkward when someone thanks me for doing what I wanted to do and absolutely loved doing.   I’m all for thanking draftees who rose to the occasion of their service and the wounded who gave so much.  But, I don’t expect any thanks.  Never have.

I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic on July 1st, 1968.  I’ve never taken a step back from that oath.  I’ve never stopped being a soldier in my heart and mind, even though I’m grown too old and unfit for active service.

The first four years under the flag were endured at West Point.  The next twenty were exulted wherever the U.S. Army sent me.  There were bad days – especially when a soldier got injured or killed.  There were challenges.  There was no combat for me.  Close enough in Korea when Art Boniface and the other guy were murdered by the North Koreans.  I became a veteran soldier teaching, training and educating the armed mob that came out of Vietnam to become the magnificent Army of Operation Desert Storm and 30 more years of deployments in harm’s way.  I learned and practiced my infantry trade in 5 combat divisions.

As a Defense contractor for 20 years I tried to provide “silver platter” staff work.  I got to contribute in tangible, if not attributable, ways to Army concepts, research and development, and field management of contractors providing support in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I even helped the Air Force on contracts – as well as DARPA and NASA.

I thought all my work came together in 2000 when I created the tactical how to fight concept of See First, Decide First, Act First, (Strike More – the Army deleted this). Finish Decisively with Infantry.  In 2009 I heard a returning Stryker Brigade Commander from Afghanistan brief the Infantry Conference on how he fought his brigade successively – using See First, Decide First, Act First, and Finish Decisively with Infantry.  That felt good.

The point is that all my service felt good.  I loved being an infantry soldier.  I was happy to go to the field.  My identity was Army Officer.  There were challenging circumstances and difficult people, as well as disappointments, but such is life.  The service with soldiers surpassed any negative.  Like, I said, “I loved it”.

No thanks are needed for my service.  That’s just me.  I’m grateful I got to serve.  Very, very grateful.


End of Florida Phase Ranger School



  1. Well said. Humble and honorable. Worthy of thanks. How wonderful to love what you do.

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