“They Knew What They Signed up For”


By Robert Krenzel

They knew what they signed up for.

The young man signed up to protect and defend. He knew there would be a price to pay. He knew, perhaps this would be the day.

The young woman signed up to love and support her man. She knew he would go away and perhaps not return. She knew the knock on the door might come that day.

They knew what they signed up for.

You wanted loyalty. You wanted adoration. Who knew you were supposed to care?

They knew what they signed up for.
Did you?

Bob Krenzel is a veteran of the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He has been the soldier who knocks on the door to bring the news.

9 thoughts on ““They Knew What They Signed up For”

      1. Complete respect for you in that capacity. Must be brutally difficult. I remember a scene in a documentary, and I’ll get the specific facts wrong here but you’ll understand the sentiment, when a person in your shoes had to tell a mother and father they had lost (I believe) five of their sons at one time. The U.S. changed their policy after that with regards to stationing siblings together in the same platoon. You likely know the story better than I, but that scene has stayed with me for decades.


  1. I was eighteen years of age and was still volunteering thirty years later. I knew what I signed up for after Vietnam; there would be another conflict. And I was often in harms way. Twenty-six total years of long hours, and sometimes dangerous conditions; some people die or are maimed in training accidents that have nothing to do with enemy action. It’s unpredictable, but so is any occupation these days. And to deliver the news of a casualty to his or her loved one — that is sobering duty.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done, Robert. But I wonder… do any of us really know what we’re signing up for when we sign? Later, looking back, it seems somehow crystal clear. But beforehand, isn’t it human nature to focus on the bright, positive side and not really know the consequences we’re signing up for? I think, contrary to common assumption, we rarely know what we’re signing up for.


  3. Not to throw a wrench in my previous comments, but early revelations of the inactions and leadership foul-up that caused men to die needlessly in the recent ship collisions, tick me off and probably every other professional. Dereliction of duty should be punished to the fullest extent of the law – from seaman to Admiral.


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