The towers had fallen, and I was in uniform, no rank or name...under orders to assist the Chaplains in the field. Traditionally, that person would be armed and the Chaplain would not. The Navy calls this Chaplain’s assistant position RP.
I did not ask for the job in early 2002, the command decided it for me. I was off the beach, and looking at the targets that the brain trust determined warranted armed personnel in uniforms to been visibly protecting; bridges tunnels, and subway stations on the Jersey side of the Hudson River.
I have never been an employee of the United States goverment or even the state of New Jersey, I was a paid volunteer, appointed by the governor, and under his command....all before he resigned in disgrace. I stayed on, unpaid, long after the feds determined we were not a good value or properly vetted; most left.
I learned. I learned until my self declared religious affiliation was discovered to be Buddhist, which was required information for my dog tags, which came only after my active duty ended. I kept learning but not as an RP. There was no room for this much diversity in the Chaplain’s command, apparently. I was then a contractor, shooting events or anything I could get paid to shoot. I shot for many many agencies, and entities, branches of the military, and often on government property in government facilities, before during and after 9/11/ 2001.
I had volunteered to shoot for Signal Corps in 1972 at the age of 15. By twenty one I was certain I would never shoot a picture for the Signal Corps. I was making modeling clay in a Red Bank, New Jersey factory then, as my peers were graduating West Point, Princeton, and Rutgers in the spring of 1979.
Like most places I have worked, the business is gone, and that factory no longer makes clay. The building is used to make and store props from the Two River Theatre just a few hundred yards away. It still smells of clay, today.
The workers were getting sick, but I don’t know if that mattered. I certainly did not, or so I was led to believe, seven long years after volunteering to shoot for Signal Corps, which I had long forgotten. I was too busy to remember much of anything, and drugged when I remembered too much. I was modified to stay on script...and played where they put me, until I could escape...or they let me believe I escaped.
And so it went until 2002, when I found myself not shooting, but playing the role of shooter in play that I did not direct. I shot two governors, up close, escorted into place...unsearched, after 9/11/ 2001, and not with my Id having been examined or in uniform. I was not even wearing my dog tags.
After my thirty years, I soon earned credentials that I could not seem to no matter how hard I had tried. The wind had changed, suddenly in 2002, and I was not sure how to manage that, the fair wind and following seas...after decades of field operations...I had some kind of affinity, deep,down, with the role Martin Sheen played in Apocalypse...but I did not understand it.
In 2012...After four decades, I magically understood. With four degrees, and two years of therapy...I finally was allowed to guess who I had been, and had become through no fault of my own.
I was not...Putin’s bitch.