Did you know an honorable discharge from the military does not necessarily mean you’re free to go live the rest of your life as you please? For some men and women, it means the possibility of recall if the government decides you’re needed. This was the case with my guest, author Doug DePew. He has written a memoir aptly called Recall! Return of the IRR. He’s here to talk to us about some of his experiences. I was careful not to ask questions that would give too much away, so you’ll still want to read the book.
Here’s a brief introduction to the man behind the words:
The author spent four years, one month, and seventeen days as an active duty US Army Infantryman. After his time in C 2/4 Infantry (Pershing), he spent the balance of his four year enlistment in the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado leaving active duty with an honorable discharge in 1990. He was recalled to active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. After the Army, he spent an additional five years in the USNR as a Storekeeper and Master at Arms. He earned a BSEd in history from Southwest Missouri State University, taught public school, was a corrections officer, taught juvenile delinquents for the state, and now teaches in a prison for the federal government. He lives in the country in southwest Missouri with his wonderful wife on a beautiful piece of the world.
Now for a peek at the book we’ll be discussing:
There hadn’t been a full-scale recall of the Individual Ready Reserves since the Korean War. In January of 1991, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, many people believed it would take World War III to trigger a recall of the IRR. Many people were wrong.
They came from cities and farms and towns in every corner of the country. With only a few days’ notice, they quit their jobs, dropped out of college, kissed their girlfriends or wives, and got on planes to Atlanta, Georgia with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They had long hair, beards, and bad attitudes. They descended by the thousands on Fort Benning, Georgia, and they were not happy about it at all.
In this entertaining, true story, the author relates his own experiences as one of twenty-thousand IRR recalls who were ordered back to active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm. In a story reminiscent of “The Dirty Dozen” times ten thousand, the author takes you through the entire experience from beginning to end. He carries you along for the ride and explains exactly what it was like to be a recall. With the many IRR recalls over the last ten years of warfare, this first hand account could shed some light on how the current era of recalls began.
After I read this book, I had lots of questions! But, as I mentioned earlier, I was careful not to ask anything that would give away too much of the book. So here we are with what I hope is an enticing chat:
What inspired you to write a memoir?
A lot of people through the years enjoyed my stories of when I was in the military. I kept having co-workers tell me,”You should write a book!” I finally took their advice and wrote my first book “SAT & BAF!” about my years in Germany. There were still some stories in my head, so I wrote “Recall!” last summer. I lived through some historic events and had the ability to record them, so I did.
Many people don’t realize that military men and women can be recalled for a certain period of time if needed. In your book, you replay the conversation between yourself and some other men regarding what everyone was doing in their lives at the time of the recall. How difficult was it for you to literally drop everything you’d been doing and step back into military life?
It was extremely difficult. I was completely acclimated back to civilian life and looking forward to moving to Nashville. To switch gears like that was extraordinarily hard. It was like a lightning bolt. Everything happened so fast that it’s still hard to comprehend.
I can only begin to imagine.
Before you were recalled, you were studying to be a recording engineer. During that time, you met Adrian Belew, whom I remember from way back in his King Crimson days. You also did some work for the incredibly talented Dweezil Zappa. So now I feel a little closer to some rock gods! Tell us about that experience. What was it like to have a working relationship with people famous in the rock world?
It was incredible! We had a lot of fun hanging out with them and sharing stories with so many others. Nearly everyone I met down there was pretty down to earth, and each visitor taught us a lot. Adrian Belew in particular was a really cool guy. He hung out for a long time just playing with his guitar and giving us tips. We had staff who’d worked with nearly everybody in the industry. It was probably a once in a lifetime experience.
I am dripping with envy!
The people recalled are older and, of course, more experienced than the young recruits first coming in. How did that impact your behavior and feelings during (re)training?
I think most of us just wanted to get to the war. If we had to put on uniforms again, we’d just as soon get through the in-processing and get on with the fighting. We’d already spent years preparing for a war and felt little need to prepare any more. There was a generally low tolerance for much of the silliness associated with the peacetime military. We reminded me a lot of the draftees of earlier generations. We just wanted to get the war over and get back home.
What are your thoughts on the recall program in general?
It’s an important part of the military. It’s been in place since at least World War II. A lot of WW-II vets were recalled for Korea. I think the way we were used is probably more effective than what’s been done since with single replacements or using IRR to fill out units. Putting us all together gave us a special bond that I think would have been quite effective in combat. I think we were the first (and maybe last) time that’s been done.
Such a great attitude! I’m sure many in your position would be full of bitterness.
You now teach in a federal prison. Do you think your military background helps in your position? If so, how?
My military background helps in everything I do. It gives me a confidence that can only be gained by pushing your mind and body farther than it can go and surviving. Confidence is the greatest gift I got from the military. It’s been vital in my job.
Music was a big part of your life before the recall. What are some of the songs rotating on your playlist?
Desperado by the Eagles has always been one of my theme songs. Once in a while, Silver Tongued Devil And I by Kris Kristofferson creeps in there. I love a very wide variety of music from traditional to contemporary country to blues to classic rock to acid rock. I like some punk, too. I go through phases of listening to Pink Floyd on repeat. My favorite song by them is Wot’s…Uh…the Deal off Obscured By Clouds. Now everybody will have to go hit Youtube. Almost nobody knows that song.
Great song choices! To listen to Doug’s playlist, click on the song titles to hear each one on YouTube.
Since you were a history major, I have to ask: If you could go back to any time and place in history, where would you go and why?
I’d like to be an independent fur trader in the 1820s to 1840s. Somewhere around Montana, Wyoming, or Colorado would suit me just fine. I like freedom.
I’m going to pretend my vegetarian nature didn’t see the ‘fur’ part. That’s an interesting period to go back to. A hard lifestyle, but definitely more land and freedom.
Thank you, Doug, for hanging out with us here!
Here’s a look at Doug’s books on Amazon. First the Kindle format:
And in print:
You can also find both titles in all ebook formats on Smashwords:
Here they are for Nook on Barnes and Noble:
And on Kobo:
You can connect with Doug in the following places:
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DougDepew or @DougDePew
I hope you’ll take the time to connect with Doug and learn more about his writing.
Thanks for reading.