The Transylvania Times -

Local Veterans Discuss How The Military Is Changing - Brevard NC


November 19, 2018

Three veterans – U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Bob McCann, U.S. Navy Flight Lieutenant Chuck Evans and U.S. Army Master Sergeant Roy Million – spoke at Brevard College last Wednesday on a wide range of topics regarding the military.

Paul Morgan, a veteran who moderated the discussion, said the panel had roughly 60 years of military experience.

“War seems to be a hallmark of human nature,” said Morgan, who noted that this month marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Although the United States entered that war late, roughly 120,000 Americans lost their lives in that war.

McCann grew up in Boston and attended West Point. After a couple of days at West Point, he thought “What am I doing here?” But he persevered.

Since the U.S. Air Force Academy had yet to graduate its first class, McCann was commissioned for the Air Force and received his pilot training. He flew a variety of aircraft and his missions ranged from fighting to reconnaissance. He also became a flight instructor and then commanded several air bases.

He also was involved in negotiating with the Soviets, which he found very frustrating.

“It’s like talking to the wall,” he said of those negotiations.

After he retired form active duty, McCann performed analyses of certain Department of Defense systems and built his own airplane.

Evans grew up in San Diego. Calif. His father was in the Navy.

Evans knew in grammar school he wanted to be in the cockpit of Navy airplane, but he didn’t say anything because it would sound like “foolishness” coming from a 9 year old.

“If you’re successful long term, you have a sense that you are destined to achieve your goals,” said Evans.

In pursuit of his goal, Evans joined ROTC and then went to flight school, where he learned to fly the A-7 jet. He spent seven years on active duty as a Navy pilot.

“I loved every second of it,” said Evans.

Evans then spent 30 years working as a broker at Merrill Lynch and afterwards spent nine years on a sailboat touring the world with his wife.

Million’s father died when he was two-years-old. He spent two years at a Catholic boarding school and spent a lot of time on farms in the Midwest.

“I joined the Army to get away from a bad situation at home,” said Million.

When he came home one night after wrecking a car, his stepfather said he would kill him. Million believed his stepfather would kill him because he had already killed their landlord.

Million joined the Army in November of 1958, where he did financial work and recruited. He retired as a master sergeant in 1979. He spent eight of his 20 years in Germany.

After retiring from the military, he became a veterinarian and practiced in Colorado, where he worked mostly on small animals. He moved here three years ago.

When asked what patriotism means, Million said, “love of my country.”

“I don’t know that I could put it better than that,” said Evans, who added that patriotism also is respect for the principles that have made this country.

McCann said patriotism embodies respect, something that seems to be missing today. He said that today people do not converse but approach people with the attitude of “I’m here to take you on. I’m not here to talk to you.”

He also said patriotism embodies respect for the flag and the laws of the country and military personnel are obligated to fulfill their duty to the oath of office and to the Constitution.

Morgan asked if they believed the country should have an all-volunteer service, as there is now, or should there be a draft?

McCann said that in an ideal world, an all-volunteer service is best.

“You want people who are there willingly,” said McCann.

However, he also said there should be a provision to have a draft if it is necessary. One of his concerns is a large percentage of young people today are physically unfit to serve in the military. He said it is “sad” that so many young people cannot pass a military physical.

“I think that a draft would be healthy for society,” said Million.

He said the military takes people from all walks of life, but the military also is going to get the number of people it needs. Sometimes that can mean lowering the standards.

Evans said he did not like it when the draft ended. He said there would be a benefit to having everyone have some form of national service, but that the country cannot now force military conscription.

Evans said one thing people seem to overlook is that the U.S. is appreciated throughout the world for its help. He said that when he was diving in the New Hebrides, now called Vanuatu, in 2010, a native of that country with whom he was diving told Evans “thank you for saving us from the Japanese.”

“I was quite taken and didn’t know what to say,” said Evans.

Evans said it is “incumbent on us” to be ready to help our friends and allies who are struggling for liberty.

All three thought that some form of required national service would be beneficial to both the nation and the individuals involved.

When asked about women serving in the military as combat troops, McCann said he had no problem with it and noted there are a number of women flying in the Air Force.

“If they can cut it, all right,” said McCann.

Evans said he supports having women in the military but believes “dying in combat is a man’s job.”

“Sorry ladies. It’s the way I feel,” said Evans, who acknowledged that he had no “rationalization” for that belief.

Both Evans and McCann said strong bonds are developed in the military amongst one’s peers.

Evans said that even though there were 175 aviators on USS John F Kennedy, “We all knew one another.”

He said they could all recognize each other just by the sound of their voices. He said they all had different personalities, but they all worked together when they needed to.

McCann said nothing bonds people together like being shot at. McCann, who flew over 100 missions over North Vietnam, was shot down once and just made it to the very edge of the Gulf of Tonkin before he was able to get out of his cockpit.

“I was right at the beach line,” he said.

McCann was so close to shore that the enemy was shooting at him from the beach. It was four or five hours before he was rescued.

“That’s when you really feel grateful for the bonding,” he said.

Due to the bonding that occurs, McCann said it is very difficult when someone you know is killed in action.

“That’s when it really hurts,” he said.

On the other hand, when something good happened, they would have a “helluva good time.”

While Evans and McCann had close-knit units, Millions said his recruiting experience was just the opposite. He thought recruiters would get along and socialize with each other, but that was not the case.

“It was very, very competitive,” he said.

He said recruiting is one of the “worst assignments” and now the Army will just tell certain infantrymen that their job is to recruit.

When asked if veterans deserve better treatment from the government, particularly the VA (Veterans Affairs), Evans said he only served seven years and has not had any interaction with the VA.

McCann said that since the VA is such a massive bureaucracy, that can sometimes be intimidating. He said, however, that the doctors and other medical staff at the VA hospitals do a good job.

“The delivery of service was fine,” said McCann. “On the whole they do a great job.”


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