Whitesburg KY

My worst military assignment

The Pentagon is a fivesided building in Arlington, Va., the largest office building in the world, housing the Department of Defense. Only the top 5 percent of all branches of the military are assigned there.

It has its own police force, medical staff, bank, barbershop, cafeteria and fire department, with its trucks run by electricity.

It’s like a small city, with a parking lot of 5,000 cars.

The Pentagon Message Center I was assigned to as the noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) was a very large room on the third floor with no windows. I found out the first week there that it took a very special person to work in this department.

Everything was very top secret, and no one came into our workplace without an escort and the proper clearance. We were open 24/7, and every message from all over the world came through our department.

I had been in charge of top secret material for 24 years on all my assignments, but nothing like this Pentagon duty. A guard sat just inside the door, checking all photo ID Cards on our uniforms, coming and going, and I felt like a prisoner in my own office.

During this time we were trying to get out of Vietnam, and more messages came into the Message Center than at any time since the Pentagon was built.

With peace talks in Paris, France, I knew it was time for this old boy to retire from the military. I put my retirement papers in, and was out of the military in 90 days.

I had good assignments over most of the world, but the Pentagon left a sour taste in my mouth.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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