Creative works by author Dan Foley.

The Yellow Brick Road

It’s graduation season and the next crop of star crazed job seekers will be hitting the streets near you soon. Most of them will have spent for, or more, years studying for a position in their ‘dream’ field. What many of them don’t know is that that yellow brick road may not lead to the OZ they have imagined.

In my case I was driven to my yellow brick road by the definite possibility of an all-expense paid vacation to the verdant rain forests of Viet Nam. Preparation for the trip was to include a few months of basic training and a M-16. All this compliments of leaving college after one semester and a high number in the draft lottery. Knowing I was too big to hide successfully, I ran right on down to my Navy recruiter and asked (begged actually) to sign up then and there. “Sorry, we have a two month wait,” he told me.

“Two months, Hell in two months I’ll be in the Army,” I told him. “Sorry, that’s the way it is,” he replied.

And then I said the magic words “Damn, I wanted to be a nuke.”

Believe it or not, I think his eyes actually lit up. “A nuke, you want to be a nuke. Sit down and take these tests.” (I later found out they had a bounty for recruiting nukes.)

So, I took the tests, got sufficiently high scores to enlist in the nuclear program and took the first steps on my personal yellow brick road, a road I didn’t even know existed when I graduated high school. Now that I’m retired after forty years in the nuclear industry, both in the Navy and commercial nuclear power, it was a road less traveled that I wouldn’t have missed for anything. Especially not an M-16 and the chance to see southeast Asia in 1965.

In future posts I’ll tell you a little bit about my journey.