It’s Mickey Day here in honor of Veterans Day, as Mickey was the only Grateful Dead in the armed forces.
—Garcia in the–
Stop. We don’t talk about that.
—Army and then he…oh, knock it off. He got a General Discharge which, while not the Honorable Discharge one might hope for, was really the best possible outcome. I mean: the Army wasn’t better off with Garcia in it.
Oh, God, no.
His contribution would not have won us the war for hearts and minds in Southeast Asia.
Also, he did poorly in that type of climate.
Bobby and Phil would have gotten Dishonorable Discharges.
Billy would have been shot after drunkenly stealing a tank.
Pigpen would not have been allowed into the military in the first place.
This brings us back to Mickey, who did his bit in the Air Force from 61-64 and was stationed in California and Spain. While in Spain, he was in a rock and roll combo called Joe and the Jaguars; they put out a couple singles, which you can hear and read about here. This is both a picture of the band, and the worst picture ever taken of humans:
Mickey was allowed to be in a rock band while also serving in the Air Force because the Air Force is the most casual of the Armed Forces. Plus, Mickey was in the Air Force band which–even though it was an early-sixties military marching band–was still a band and therefore full of weirdo musicians. Mickey may or may not have ever come in contact with a plane he was not flying on in the Air Force.
(Air Force is the choice branch for my life’s “I’m joining the ____ and getting my shit together” moments; it’s the only one I could even halfway fake my through. The Navy is just wet math, and the thought of being on one of those floating nuclear reactors is frightening; joining the Coast Guard significantly raises your chances of being thrown out of a helicopter into the stormy sea; the Army is an organization dedicating to finding the shittiest climate and terrain on the planet, then going there to get shot at. I do not have what it takes to be a Marine; this admission will not come as a shock.)
My grandfathers were in The Second World War Two, of course. Like Mickey, they saw no direct action – neither left the country, although my Poppy Jack did have a good story about a particularly rickety bridge he needed to cross at a base in Florida. My dad had a high draft number and then they got rid of the service requirement and that was that for my family and the military.
But it is a big world that is ugly when it chooses to be; to keep one’s place in it, there must be men and women willing to strap a pistol to their hips and get a little mud on their dicks.
Happy Veterans Day.