Dakota Red 1,
Glad to make your acquaintance. I became a 45B because years afterwards, there was not a lot of demand for 11B's once the Vietnam war ended, and I needed to find a position in the Army Reserve program where I could do something useful. I had a religious fervor for small arms maintenance, having "walked the walk" as a combat 11B. Also, while in Vietnam, I came perilously close to dying as a result of faulty maintenance at the unit and direct support levels, leading to the failure of my weapon. Trust me, when your weapon does the wrong thing at the wrong time, it really gets your attention!
I stayed in the system for many years, retiring in 2004. I had switched to the Air National Guard for a few years in the mid-80's, but went back to the Army system; only to have my duties changed by Branch Management, who thought I could be more useful somewhere else. They assigned me to Headquarters, 98th Division (Training), and stuck me in the G4 as the Division's small arms maintenance senior NCO. That turned out to be nothing more than a Command Inspection Team assignment, and took me away from firearms and a lot closer to eternal paperwork. Along with that, I inherited a 145 mile commute to my unit, and I had to attend drill nights every Tuesday (290 miles round trip every week). As a result, I transferred to the Air National Guard (once again) in 1993.
I was briefly recalled to active duty for operation Desert Storm, and again in 2001 for the Global War on Terror, and I am proud to have served during three conflicts and the administrations of seven U. S. Presidents.
You are correct, I have had a long and interesting career. In my book, the "Armorer's Handbook" which was published by the US Army in 1998, I irreverently slammed the Army for a systemic failure in small arms repair policy. Based on the literally thousands of unit arms room inspections I conducted in my career, I was always appalled at the lack of commitment by unit commanders to their small arms maintenance programs. If you want my spin on the issue, please read my book, available at: http://rapidshare.com/files/15411274...ok_11.pdf.html
The book is now 11 years old, and a lot of the weaponry in use has changed, but there is a wealth of information in the book that will give you an indication of what it was like to attend my armorer's school at Fort Drum. I was soundly criticized by officers who thought there was no value in soldiers learning things like ballistics theory...but then again, they were commissioned officers, so nothing more needs to be said...
Thanks for your response. Please keep in touch.