The Early Military Years, Enlisted.

In 1966, I was  cruising along in life like I knew where it was headed and I was along for the ride.  I had started college but didn't apply for a Military deferment.    Sure trip to the Army.  Lo and behold, in July 66 I was sent to Kansas City for a Pre-Induction Physical.  I Looked at the paperwork completed  near the end when I had a visit with the Doctor.  Little did I know then that all those 1s in the PULHES section would award me a 1-A rating.  On my 19th Birthday I went to the mail and there was a "Greetings" Letter and I was told to report on 5 Sep for induction (Drafted, busted go to the Military do not pass go) 

I did talk to a navy Recruiter about being a SEA BEE because of my construction experience.  They weren't interested unless I had training and experience driving heavy Machinery.  I just accepted my fate and got on the bus.  Go to Canada?  Are you Crazy?  Hell, all they wanted was a couple of years and what else did I have to do.

The Induction station in Kansas City is still there across from the Train Station.  It has a fancy name now something like MEPS but it really isn't important.  I spent a couple of days taking tests and the checks to insure that I hadn't done (or Caught) anything since the last time I was there.  Nope, Stand in a line in alphabetical order.  I lucked out that everyone in the alphabet after P were sent to another room where a Marine Corps Gunney  made them swear an oath to the Corps.  As soon as those of us that took the induction were official, we were on a bus for Fort Lost in the Woods (Leonard Wood) 

We arrived there late at night and were given a sheet, a blanket and a pillow and told to go rack out in an old wooden barracks.  We did and early the next morning some a-hole came in and kicked a can down the center of the barracks and called us a lot of names.  We were herded outside to a line for breakfast and some of the guys were drug out of the line to serve.  I was chosen and put on the part of the line where I fed bread into this merry go round toaster.  The toast fell into a metal container and the guys just picked up the toast with their bare hands.  At least I got to wash my hands.  The toast that got burned was taken by one of the other guys and they made French Toast out of it.  

After a bunch of tests, a hair cut, issuance of uniforms and equipment, a bunch of shots, we were finally marched over to a nearby unit.  It too was a bunch of WWII Barracks and we were greeted by our Drill Sergeant.  SFC Tignor (we became Tignor's Tigers) was a great guy in the barracks.  You could ask him anything and he actually talked to us like we were people.  His words were, "You guys are being trained to go to Vietnam and the better you do here, the fewer of you that will die there."  His motivation was  loud and clear to me.  I pitched in and learned everything I could.  One of the guys that were Acting NCO's (they had been in the Army two weeks longer than we had) could go to the PX and they purchased a Basic Training Guide.  It had simple things like the Code of Conduct,  General orders, and how to wear the uniform.  I got one and read it cover to cover several times.  I finished 2nd out of all the trainees in our cycle.  My dad got a letter from the 2nd Brigade Commander thanking him for teaching me as much as he could.  It was BS but at least I got promoted to E-2 as I entered AIT. 

There was a lot of confusion in my orders.  I had been selected to go to the Field Artillery OCS at Fort Sill and the first orders I saw were for Fort lee, VA.  Had I not got Sergeant Tignor involved, I would have been on a bus to Fort Lee.  I finally got a letter that told me to report to Fort Sill.  No orders at that point but what the heck did I know.  I was assigned to an OCS Preparatory Battery  and completed 8 weeks learning how to be an Artillery Fire Direction Crewman and to polish things that were already shinny but needed more.

Some time in late January or early February, I went over to the Robinson Barracks and signed in.  23 weeks later, I graduated as a branch qualified 2nd Lieutenant.   My next stop was Fort Irwin, CA but more about the rest of my career next Blog.

Col, (Ret)

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