Chapter D - Arne Salvesen
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 January 2023
Cliff Westlund was an unusual high school teacher. He encouraged you to think for yourself. As a sophomore in Mr. Westland's English class at Wausau (Wisconsin) Senior High in 1953/1954 this was a new experience for me. For example, when Mr. Westland asked each of us to select a favorite poem and recite it to music for the class each student had to make decisions.
Similarly, when he assigned class members to write a story of their lives 10 years into the future each of us had to think for ourselves. This exercise brought me face-to-face with the reality that over the next 10 years I would certainly be subject to the draft. I had an obligation to serve my county in the military. How would I do this? I hardly knew anyone who had served in the military. My father, an immigrant from Norway, where he performed his sixmonth long Norwegian service obligation in a chemistry lab, knew absolutely nothing about the US military. So he could not provide an example or even offer valuable advice. I would have to think for myself.
I had heard of Wausau high schoolers receiving congressional appointments to a military academy. One of my best friends, taking lessons to earn a pilot's license, told me that his father was already working on getting him an appointment to the newly founded Air Force Academy (which he subsequently received). But the military academies held little attraction for me.
The University of Wisconsin in Madison is where I wanted to study. I wanted to be a Badger. At college I would be deferred from the draft for the duration of my studies. Then, as a college graduate, perhaps I would be qualified to become an officer. This appeared to me to be a more attractive alternative than being drafted for two-year's active duty or enlisting in the reserves with a six-month active duty and a very long commitment in the reserves.
So, I started to research in the school library how one could become a military officer without graduating from one of the academies. This is where I learned about the ROTC. Little did I know then at age 16 that this knowledge would provide the pathway for my entire life.
- Military MemoriesDraft Era Veterans Recall their Service, pp. 73 - 86Publisher: Anthem PressPrint publication year: 2022