Military Dopers - How Did You Choose Your Military Branch?

I’m a lifelong civilian, and have never been interested in joining the military for a number of reasons. I’m a nonviolent person (don’t conflate this with being a pacifist, I just don’t want to shoot anyone), I like having my personal freedom and I am not sure I would do well in such a structured environment.

That said, whenever I see ads for the military, or the recruiting offices at the local shopping mall, I can’t help but imagine myself in the military in some capacity. Upon consideration, I think the branch I would most want to join would be the Navy, for a few reasons:

-Safety (virtually no casualties–only 2.2% of the deaths in Iraq/Afghanistan were suffered by the Navy.)
-Travel (if you’re stationed on a ship, you will get to see other parts of the world in some capacity, rather than being stationed on a base in Kansas somewhere.)
-Technology (I find advanced warships to be fascinating. Not as interested in mechanized infantry.)

But this really isn’t about me. I’m curious about how those of you who have served or currently serve in the military decided upon your branch. What factors were involved? Do you regret your decision? Has anyone served in multiple branches?

I was only 17 so I needed my parents signature, and they flat out told me they would not sign for Army or Marines, so I was just left with two choices. Everyone I have ever talked to said the Air Force had the highest quality of life. Plus, they had planes and shit. After I got the initial information I signed on the dotted line because they had the jobs I wanted (Air traffic control, aerial gunner, imagery analysis were the top three on my list).

I don’t regret how things turned out (I ended up flying on a helicopter for my enlistment), although if I could go back I’d attempt to be a Warrant for the Army, but that’s it.

There’s only one military the Marine Corps. The others are support :slight_smile:

The Marines showed up in their Blues preaching esprit de corps, honor and discipline. Navy and Air Force mainly talked about tech options and my ASVAB scores. Never even spoke with the Army.

I still took a technical MOS in the Marines :slight_smile: I didn’t want to eat mud EVERY day.
Where I grew up military was pretty much only way out, no way my mother could afford college for me.

I chose the Navy. I’m not dissatisfied with my particular choice.

Just a few years after I got out, a sailor from my ship died in a horrific steam accident - he’s buried in Arlington. So casualties may be few, but they are often pretty awful when they happen.

I was in my second year of college during the Vietnam War, with a deferment. Apparently, the college forgot to send in the paperwork to continue the deferment (I was young and naive and didn’t bother to check on that :smack: ), and the Army came looking for me with a 1A classification. I was absolutely certain that I didn’t want to be a ground-pounder, nor did I want to kill anybody, so I joined the Navy to dodge the Army, figuring I’d be safely on a ship somewhere. Somehow I managed to sign myself up for the Navy Seabees (the construction arm of the Navy) and about eight months later found myself standing on the tarmac at Danang Air Base.

I literally didn’t know there was any difference between the branches. “Army” was the generic term for “military” in my mind, so that’s what I went with. My dad kept telling me I should go Air Force, but I didn’t think he knew what he was talking about (he did). In short, I joined the Army because I was kinda stupid.

I went to the recruiting office to join the Navy, the Navy recruiter was out so the Army dude got me a coke and started chatting, I fell for it hook line and sinker. Signed on the dotted line and walked out wondering what had just happened. I wasn’t too bright at 18.

I was looking at Air Force more but ended up at the recruiters station early. About 6:30am.

The Air Force office had a sign that said, “Be in at 9am and leaving at 3pm”. The Navy and Marine recruits almost ran over each other though to talk to me. I had zero interest in being a Marine, I am also a nonviolent person like you said in the Op. So I talked to the Navy recruited and ended up signing up.

Now please note, I was apparently a stupid kid as I did not think through the fact that Air Force Recruiter was putting in a 6 hour day and Navy Recruiter was pulling a 12 hour day. That in many ways sums up Navy vs. Air Force.

I would not say I liked the Navy but I do think it was a great experience. But if I was going to do 20 years, I would probably think strongly about Air Force over Navy. Both are high tech but Air Force just seems to be the easiest service.

For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a Marine. I think the origin came during the 91 Gulf War when I found out my Mom’s cousin was over there with the Marines. It must have made some sort of impression. I enlisted the day after I turned 17- I needed parental consent, so the concession with my Mom was that I would join the Marine Corps Reserve. She never thought I would be mobilized. snerk.

Second go around I joined the Army National Guard. They promised me a combat arms MOS, a renlistment bonus, and a promotion. The Marines promised me the same old job, reduced rank, and no bonus. I don’t need to prove myself to the Corps twice, thankyouverymuch.

To the OP, you might consider taking a look at the Civil Air Patrol, if the idea of the military interests you but actually enlisting in the Armed Forces doesn’t. They’re a civilian auxiliary to the Air Force who do stuff like search and rescue and giving flying lessons. Every once in a rare while they work with the Air Force more directly (during World War II they acted as sub hunters, flying in little yellow and red airplanes. The Germans learned to be very afraid of those little yellow and red airplanes, because where one of those turned up, a very big angry green bomber was not far behind.)

But yeah, I’ve got a friend who is flying with CAP working on her pilot’s license; she’s having a blast. It’s mostly part-time volunteering stuff.

As for how I ended up joining, I’ve always wanted to join the Air Force, since I lived at Misawa AB and Yokota AB in japan when I was about five. Considered the Navy for a while, decided against it partially based on not wanting to dress like Donald Duck. The Army talked to me for a long while, but I got talked out of it by friends in the Army who didn’t think it’d be a good fit for me. Ended up joining the Air Force (and spent the first year and a half of my career at an Army base. Go figure.:p)

As for the Air Force recruiter not keeping long hours, part of that might be him having a very easy job (that is to say, lots of people joining the Air Force; outside of recruiting, plenty of Airmen work 12 or 16 hour shifts depending on their speciality and what’s going on. Mechanics and cops in particular get hosed schedule-wise). It’s also possible that he’s working several recruiting centers, and has to divide his time between them.

My recruiter was the only Air Force recruiter in all of Cochise County, AZ, a county in southern Arizona larger than the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island put together. I joked that I would need a lasso and a roll of duck tape if I ever wanted to keep him in his office long enough to actually talk to him about anything. You’d think the Air Force had gone out of business with how often his office was locked up with the lights off. And every month, he sent a big van full of recruits off to join the Air Force.

Well, I started in the Army Reserves, because it was the most like the Boy Scouts, and there are Army Reserve posts all over the danged place compared to other Reserve branches. Then when I decided that I wanted to participate in the Gulf War, it was natural to go Regular Army. Of course that was over in a couple of days, and I missed it, but was stuck in the Army. I’d’ve chosen the Air Force if I’d not been in a hurry. Why? The technology, of course. All in all, I didn’t too bad as a 93D (which sadly has been reclassed into something else I no longer remember).

Quality of life separates the Air Force from every other branch of the military. My brother told me that 22 years ago and he was right. I followed in his footsteps (he retired after 20+). 20 years later and I still love it.

Look, the Navy’s got ships! Ships!

And then they said I could get paid to play with radiation - and if I were smart, and lucky, I could play with chemicals, too.

Went Navy, nuc power, and even got selected for the chem/radcon training.

Glad I went in; glad I’m out.
ETA: I walked into the recruiting station wanting to be a Bosun’s Mate - essentially a deck ape. The recruiter got me to take a pre-ASVAB (thinking I was an idiot) and took one look at my scores, and started selling me on the nuc program.

ETETA: I did think about the risks to life and limb. I used to joke that the Navy was the Boolean option: You’d either come out intact, or very, very dead. The Iwo Jima main engineroom steam rupture was while I was in. Made a bit of an impression.

Choose? What choice do you have when you are drafted? Serve long or serve longer.

With a draft notice in my hand, I approached all the services, looking for a better deal. There were none, if length of service is most important. All were longer (3 to 6 years compared to 2). Some would, if you qualify, guarantee a MOS (job description); some would guarantee – but only for a year – the first assignment if the position was available.

Since I didn’t know what location(s) might be best, but I knew I didn’t want to go to Vietnam as a grunt, I signed up for Army Band, location unassigned.

And was sent to Vietnam.

I would have been better off to be drafted, because in the second week of basic training, anyone who said they could play an instrument was automatically put in the band without having to serve the extra year.

We get too soon old and too late smart.

The best part about being a Seabee was that I never went aboard a boat in 23 years of service. No regrets there.

My brother-in-law served as a nuc engineer (or whatever they’re called) on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower for a few years. :slight_smile:

Yea bees! let’s hear it for the hooligan navy. I was a reservist…only active duty I did was the initial six months for basic and “A” school. I mainly went in to help pay for college. Would probably have joined the National Guard, but I had a friend (actually my girlfriend’s dad) who was a Seabee reservist and talked the bees up so much I had to give it a try. Also I’d had some work experience as a surveyor/drafter and the Seabees offered that as a rating (EA), so it made sense to do something I knew a little about.

I wanted something high tech and had no desire to be a ground pounder, so Army and Marines were out. That left Air Force and Navy. I also had no desire to be sharing a little bunk on a boat so that made my choice easy.

Joining the Air Force was the best decision I ever made.

My father was a Marine. My grandfathers were Marines. I was raised knowing that I should support the military and for some reason I knew that I’d join. (female here) However, having listened to their stories, I knew that I was too smart to be a Marine. :smiley:

No disrespect for Marines, but I wanted things like box springs and hot food. I joined the USAF.

It was just what I felt I needed to do. I’m glad I did it.

(I also got to play around with nukes. My time spent in the moleholes was…interesting)

Well, I wanted to serve in a combat role (I had something to prove, mainly to myself). As far as teenage Israelis are concerned, in term of prestige, there’s a clear hierarchy:

Tier 1: pilots.
Tier 2: the various special ops units (which have an internal hierarchy of their own, of course).
Tier 3: “vanilla” infantry.
Tier 4: tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft, combat engineering.
Tier 5: everything else.

Because of my glasses I lacked the physical qualifications for the top two tiers, so I volunteered for infantry.