Interview part two:
Bill: I feel silly about this. I don’t know that people really care to hear about me alone.
“You have no idea how much people admire you, do you?”
Bill: I just think there are a lot better people to admire than me.
“Well I’d like to ask you a few questions, if that’s okay.”
“You have alluded to wanting to join the Army to make a difference in the world. Was that the only reason?”
Bill: Well that’s the pretty answer I suppose. (he smiles). But if I’m honest, it’s not the main reason. I had a crappy home life and I guess I was looking for a way out. I knew, finishing my degree would be one thing, but then what? I would still be at home and I couldn’t handle that. I needed to get out of that environment. I needed to get away from my dad.
“But you like being in the Army, don’t you?”
Bill: I loved it. I still do, but my life looks very different now than it did when I enlisted. I had nothing; no obligations or bills to pay. I had none of the blessings I have in my life now. I have a family and they are everything to me.
“What if you were called back to active duty?”
Bill: I am active, but I know what you mean. If I was asked to leave again I would honor my commitment to my Country because it’s who I am and I’m a damn good soldier. With the mess I’ve made of my leg and my transplants, I probably wouldn’t be medically cleared for combat. I wouldn’t want to go, but I owe it to my friends; those I lost; to do what needs to be done.
“You’ve always been a man of your word, haven’t you? That’s important to you?”
Bill: Of course. My word is my bond and if you can’t count on that, then you have nothing. I think it also stems from never being able to trust anyone’s word growing up. My parents never told me the truth about anything and really, the life I thought I lived with my parents was a complete and utter lie, so I think I have some issues with trust. (he smiled and then sighed)
“That’s a nice segue. Can you tell me what your life was like when you were a kid?”
“Because you are a remarkable man and I think the readers would like to know how you were able to get through that and be so kind and giving.”
Bill: I don’t know. I don’t know that I would classify myself as kind and giving. To most people, I’m probably someone they are afraid to get to know. I have a lot of baggage and I don’t open up easily. I also tend to be very protective of those close to me. That can be a turn off for others who want to get to know me. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to talk about my parents.
“Okay. Are you upset by these questions?”
Bill: I’m a private person and I don’t like to talk about things with people I don’t know. Besides, there is no point in dredging up things that can’t be changed. It’s not like my parents were just distant. My father was an evil terrible man. He doesn’t deserve our time.
“What if I told you that someone reading this might be going through a similar circumstance and how you got through it might be helpful to them. Maybe you have more of an impact on others than you realize.”
Bill: I’m no role model. They would be better off looking to Jack or Tommy.
Bill: Because they stepped in when it was needed. When Julie needed her family, they were there. When my mom needed me, I left. I’m just not someone to look up to.
“I think many people would disagree, but I’ll let it go. Do you mind if Mike joins us?”
Bill saw Mike and he smiled, relieved.
Bill: Of course not, although if you think I’m difficult, getting him to talk is like pulling teeth.
Mike chuckled as he sat down.
“Hi. Thanks for coming in,”
Mike: Jade said I had to.
“Well thank her for me. How are things going in your life now?”
Mike: What’s so funny?
Bill: You are a worse interview than I am.
“You two are great friends. Did it start off like that?”
Bill laughed and Mike rolled his eyes.
Bill: No. I thought he was spoiled.
Mike: He was so hard on me. I almost filed a complaint against him.
Bill: You were this pretty boy who everyone loved. I was surprised they didn’t make you a Corporal just by your smile.
Mike shook his head.
Mike: The Sergeant has always been jealous of my good looks.
They both laughed.
“So what changed? You both are so close now.”
Mike: I spent five minutes with him and saw the kind of soldier I wanted to be. He is the best teacher and I knew, while under his command, I was with the best. I grew up with a career Army dad and my respect for those who serve was always high. With the Sergeant, I saw firsthand what commitment meant. I saw how he treated the regiment and I saw how he treated me. He earned my respect and my friendship.
Bill sighed: You’re making it sound much better than it was. I had a job to do and I did it. You need to stop making me into something I’m not.
Mike smiled: And he is humble. You don’t know how it was, that first tour. We were gone for a year and it was shit. We had no idea what we were doing or if we were ever going to get home. So many of us were seriously lacking faith and discipline.
Bill: You weren’t.
Mike: Because of your leadership. You made me want to be a better soldier. You took charge when I knew the fear you had about never seeing your wife again. You handled taking over after Nick was removed from his command and you became our leader.
Bill: I was an idiot who never saw what Nick really was.
Mike looked at him and Bill sighed.
Mike: I think I win in the whole ‘being blind to things’.
Bill: I didn’t mean it that way. I’m just saying that I wasn’t anything special. We all had trouble and we all left people behind.
“Tell me about the second tour.”
Bill and Mike were quiet.
Bill: I lost eight men. They are all that’s important from that mission.
Mike: They are all that matters.
“What about your relationship outside of the Army?”
Mike: You mean how my ex-wife almost got his entire family killed?
Bill sighed: You had nothing to do with that. I need for you to let that go.
Mike: Are we almost done with this?
“Yeah. One more question. How would you each describe your ideal day?”
Mike: Watching Jade laugh.
Bill: Watching my children play and holding my wife in my arms.
Who should be next?