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🌟 Please join me in welcoming author James Brock to Stories That Make You Smile. James is here today celebrating the recent release of his fabulous military novella, Dog Tagged. James has kindly brought along an excerpt, a lovely and informative guest post, and a generous giveaway. Pull up a chair and read on to learn about James’ personal experiences that contributed to making this story feel so real. 🌟
Dog Tagged by James Brock
Soldiers fight for the same freedom for everyone, including the right to love who you choose.
Publisher: LaVation Publishing
Cover Artist: Joleen Naylor
Release Date: July 31, 2019
Length: Novella / 33k words / 143 pages
Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): M/M Gay Romance, Military Romance, Soldier meets soldier, soldier loses soldier, soldier fights like hell to get soldier back, insta-love, don’t ask don’t tell
Drill Sergeant Clay Norris has his military life running right on schedule. Career focused he appreciates that he joined up when his sexuality is at least acknowledged under Don’t Ask, Don’t tell, even if he doesn’t get to act on his urges as much as he likes.
In formation with his new trainee group he locks eyes with Chevrolet Banks and his life, their lives, are changed forever. Dog Tagged is an insta love military romance based on real life incidents.
☆ Guest Post ☆
August 1976 I was living in one of the most remote, rural parts of America. The tiny high school I graduated from the year before (33 in my graduating class) offered no encouragement for college or even trade opportunities. The few and far between jobs were low paying and dead end.
The military had been family tradition going back to the Civil war, so I followed the footsteps of my father (Army), beloved step-father (Marine), brothers (Air Force, Navy, Navy), and war hero Uncle, WWII Army POW in Germany, and joined the Army for a three-year commitment.
Be all that you can be! was the slogan played on commercials for the Army, touting not just the catchy jingle but encouraging that a stint in the military would give you training and benefits. Unless you happened to love who you were naturally wired to love….
There has never been a moment in my life I have not been aware that my sexual attraction is to other guys, despite that I perjured myself on the application for military service by checking the NO box to the question Are you a homosexual.
I was eighteen and we were only seven years from the Stonewall riots. Coming out in rural America was not common or accepted.
A car ride, flight, and long train ride got me to Fort Dix, New Jersey the Thursday evening before Labor Day. It was rainy, noisy and confusing as we were herded off the bus picking us up at the depot and into a reception station.
Silence was demanded and given, forms were filled out, bunks assigned, hair buzzed off and uniforms issued.
An orgy of the cadre could have broken out in front of us and would have been ignored. We quickly learned to keep our mouths shut and eyes forward.
We were broken into Company groups (about fifty per) and assigned Drill Instructors. Muscular men wearing broad, flat rim Smokey the Bear style hats who became our mother, father, priest, best friend and worst nightmare.
Dog Tagged is based in part on those experiences.
After basic training I went on to advanced training in supply, then on to my permanent duty station. My term of service ended in 1979, by then I had nearly come out to everyone in my command. I was a good soldier, got rank promotions on a regular basis and my sexuality was never questioned. I had a boyfriend and regularly hung out with other gay GI’s and Airmen at one of the two gay bars in town near the base.
Years later I had the opportunity to speak with groundbreaking service member Col. Greta Cammemyer about my time in service. She assured me of something I had always suspected, although I was coming and going to the bars in my free time a file was kept on all service members suspected of being gay.
It was felt we were more susceptible to blackmail, espionage and revolution.
Homosexuals were not going to be permitted the same chances to further themselves just because of their sexual orientation.
A lot to put on young people who joined whether they were in rural America like me or in an inner city or just in a financial situation which held them back-we were all just looking for a way out, and hopefully up.
In slow, steady steps, with soldiers like Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, Col. Greta Cammemyer and hundreds of thousands of others quietly and honorably serving the country alongside our straight brothers and sisters, the military shifted. First to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, then on to, finally and thankfully, the integration of gay and lesbian service members being allowed to openly serve.
Dog Tagged is set in that misty, grey time when the acceptance of an LGBTQ presence in the military was just beginning under the ruling of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-meaning you could be gay but not admit your sexuality.
Drill Sergeant Clay Norris has never questioned his sexual orientation and happily (and easily!) finds his physical needs met. Usually off post but has the occasional dalliance with a fellow service member.
In his second round of training troops as a Drill Instructor Clay suddenly locks eyes with a newly enlisted troop who takes his heart.
This insta love story follows the trials and tribulations of two soldiers yearning for each other, sharing a bond before tragedy rips them apart. Not asking or telling is for them the easiest part of their journey as they finally know and admit their attraction to each other.
Many of the Drill Instructors on Fort Dix back in 1976 were not long out of the jungles of Vietnam, and frankly some of them should not have still been in the service after the horrors of war. As in Dog Tagged I had a Senior Drill Instructor on his last round of training (who was unlike the Sr. Drill in the story, thankfully) who truly cared about getting the best out of his troops, and a young first time Drill Instructor we all liked and respected.
Some incidents in Dog Tagged are based on actual events, which include a trainee who was called on to go knock on the steam covered window of the drill instructor’s private vehicle on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
The smell rolling out of the closed car and disarrayed clothing the hot young soldier managed to scramble into as he staggered angrily from the vehicle were enough to let me know that he and whomever he was in there with were not playing bridge. Dog Tagged is a story of love while in the military, and the loneliness and heartbreak of serving while loving someone you are not supposed to.
Meet the Author
James is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this cover reveal – enter via Rafflecopter:a Rafflecopter giveaway