Keep Calm & Carry On

The Carrot Ranch flash fiction November 11, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase “carry on.” It can be an expression of perseverance or behaving in a particular way. It can even be luggage you take when traveling. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 16, 2021.

View: 33 Powerful Photos of Military Women Serving their Country

“Airman, halt!”

I stopped dead in my tracks. I’d executed a sharp salute to the captain who’d walked past me on the other side of the sidewalk. Now, he scrutinized my uniform with piercing eyes.

“Airman, where is your Vietnam Campaign ribbon?”

Not this again, I thought.

“Sir, my date of induction was after the last date for the Vietnam Campaign. I can show you, my orders.”

I reached into my purse and handed him the well creased set of military induction orders.

He glanced at the orders and nodded. “Carry on, Airman.”

“Yes, Sir.” Then, I carried on!

This is a true story. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1976. The Vietnam Campaign officially ended in 1975, but that didn’t stop the officers from asking, anyway!

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About Colleen Chesebro: WordCraftPoetry

Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called #TankaTuesday, on where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry. A published author, Colleen is also an editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse, also found on Colleen’s mission is to bring the craft of writing syllabic poetry to anyone who thinks they can’t be a poet. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for the Carrot Ranch literary community at Colleen’s poetry has appeared in various anthologies and journals including “Hedgerow-a journal of small poems,” and “Poetry Treasures1 & 2” a collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on “Writing to be Read." Colleen published “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry,” which illustrates how to write various syllabic poetry forms used in her Tanka Tuesday challenges; and a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020,” published by Plaisted Publishing House. Find Colleen at Word Craft: Prose & Poetry at
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  1. Interesting, Colleen. I don’t know much about military protocol. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Vietnam Campaign ribbon, nor that it was something you had to wear (if you had it).

  2. Your reply to Merril confirms what I was wondering, if the questioning wasn’t because the air “man” in the story carried a purse. But yes ma’am, you carried on and look at you now.

    • LOL! Oh yes, we were all airmen! There was “supposedly” no difference between the men and women serving. These tactics were more to harass us than anything else. After you received a bit of rank, they eased off some. You literally were not to think for yourself. Who knew? 🤷🏼‍♀️ LOL!

  3. I do think that progress has been made for women in the military, but the news stories that pop up from time to time tell me it’s not enough. (K)

    • True. Yet it makes me sad that we’re not farther along with women’s equality. The military was the only place that I made the same amount of money as a man. The rank structure was based on our knowledge and testing. That was a plus.

      • That, at least. Is good to know. I remember at my first design job when we discovered the one man in our entry position was making considerably more than the women. We were told it was because he was more “promotable”.

  4. Thank you for your service!

  5. The captain was (to use a term common in Australia) a complete and utter wanker.

    • Ha, ha! There were many like this, Doug. This was one of my milder stories. It was the way he said, “Carry on,” that was so demeaning. But this was typical treatment. As women we had to work harder to prove that we could do the job as well as a man… and I was an administrative assistant! 😂🤦🏼‍♀️

  6. Great story, Colleen, and perfect use of the prompt. And a bit about you too. 🙂 Happy Writing.

  7. Crazy story – in the sense that this was such a prevalent attitude everywhere, and certainly, as you’ve noted in the comments, most definitely in the military. But then, traditions die hard, along with attitudes. Change is always so slow to come to pass. Thankfully though, you came through it all, with flying colours, although that’s not to dismiss just how discouraging and hurtful these types of experiences are. But fortitude isn’t something that one has drilled into one – and so it’s no surprise to me that now, years later, you can also shrug it off some, knowing you’re so much stronger and a “better” person – being extremely compassionate and understanding of both the times and era, as well having come well and truly into your own, in your own way.

    • That’s the age and wisdom part, isn’t it? I’m sad that we’ve not developed into a more equal society. The entire world seems to be in the throes of an identity crisis. We seem to be moving backward in time. I only hope we find the strength to regain a sense of decency for our fellow man and woman. I benefited greatly from my time in service to America. I felt it was my duty even at a young age. <3

      • Perhaps if we hold Light and Love in our hearts – but you know, the “birthing process” is hard and difficult, and often we must fall deep into the darkness before we find and emerge in light.

        I’m sure your service in the military was enriching and offered many valuable lessons and experiences – and of course, we have to remember to acknowledge the positives too! And even as I’m Canadian, I do make it a point to say “Thank you for your service” (because ultimately, as we’ve been discussing, we’re all in this together, regardless of borders and boundaries).

  8. Well done Sis, a poignant little telling. <3

  9. Carry on, Witch! I’m chuckling, Colleen, because it finally occurred to me that you were Air Force, so of course, you know how to fly a broom! Ah, I also get the stoicism of having to shore something because of official eras that don’t align with actual service. You and Todd both served in “Peace Time.” Some peace, eh.. Great BOTS!

    • Right? Unfortunately I didn’t come into my “personal power” until I was much older. Peace time is an entirely different experience. The culture of the military is to blindly follow and ask no questions! 🤣🤦🏼‍♀️❤️

  10. Wow! Awesome photo links of women in the military. Yeah! Carry on, Airmen!

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