Fort Sill, OK Part 2

In 1966, I was drafted into the US Army and after completing Basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, I went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  I was to attend the Cannon Cocker School of Cannon Knowledge in January 1967.  Between the Tour at Leonard Wood and OCS, I had to complete Advanced Individual training.  The Fort Sill training group set up a class of OCS Prep that was aimed at teaching us the gunnery skills that are the hardest part of OCS.  Between our arrival and the first break (Christmas) in  1966 we focused on the manual gunnery skills of the cannon artillery.  During that training, we went to the field once or twice for what was called a shack shoot.  We would set up in one of the shacks built on the Observation points right on the edge of the impact area.  While there, we could observe the entire process that was the Forward Observer and the computation of data to let the rounds land on the target.  The shacks had glass windows in the front towards the impact area and it was just great to see the rounds impact where we told them to shoot.

I am not sure why, but attention to detail and high standards were one of the main focuses during our training.  Everything had a way to be done and every detail was checked over and over.  We had daily uniform inspections and no one went more than two weeks between haircuts.  Spit shined shoes and brass that gleamed was the norm.  For some reason, my Platoon leader had a fetish about security.  About the worst thing you could do was to leave your footlocker or wall locker unlocked as you went to training.  I can still see the footlockers with foam bulging out of the cracks.  Our "Display" was a clean disposable razor and a little short can of shaving cream.  The handle of the razor just fit the top of the shaving cream can.  If the Lieutenant found your foot locker open, he would fit the razor on top of the shaving cream can and it would empty the can into the top shelf of your foot locker together when he closed the lid.  The shaving cream would fill the footlocker top with foam and it would take the better part of the rest of the evening to clean it up and make things right.  About once a week the Lieutenant would have an unannounced foot locker inspection and we were awarded demerits for not being right up to standard.

About two weeks prior to our Christmas leave, one of the guys in our platoon left his footlocker unlocked and right on top of the display was his bus ticket to New York.  His punishment was to do a push-up for each penny the ticket was worth.  Had it been me, I would have done about $20.00 worth of push ups but that poor guy was from new York and he had to do many thousand.  Every time we would have a formation he would run around behind and start knocking out the push ups.  

Right prior to Thanksgiving, we were moved out of the newer buildings and into refurbished WWII barracks.  That included the mess section and I'm pretty sure they hated the fact that the facilities were old. Did I mention they were old?  The Dining facility crew asked for volunteer to serve the meal and I didn't have anything better to do so I did.  When the Turkeys were done, they were taken out of the oven and placed on the serving line.  They were there for at least a couple of hours prior to serving the meal.  When we were through serving, the turkeys left over were just put on the counter because they all didn't all  fit in the cooler.  For the evening meal, the one cook on duty just made sandwiches from the left overs.  I skipped the meal because I didn't trust the turkey left out for what had been about 6 hours.  I think there was about 25 guys sick late that night and at least one was taken to the Hospital.  The good news was that we had a training holiday on Friday and over the weekend so by Monday most of us were OK by then.  

It seemed like the last couple of weeks in AIT went fast and the two weeks at home were a blessed relief.  Many beers were consumed and I did manage to wrangle a date.   The only downer was the Christmas cars I got from my high school sweetheart with the ring taped over the baby Jesus in the manger so  the shining star beams seemed to be coming out of the ring.  It was kind of like a broken finger nail.  It hurt but didn't kill me.

The last couple of weeks in AIT were spent in the more technical parts of the gunnery problem.  We learned to fire Hig Angle fire, do a Meteorological message and how to compute a fire mission for rocket artillery.  That one mission was a compilation of all the the rest of the complex missions and it was the final thing we had to pass to get out of there with the award of the MOS 13E.  One funny note was the fact that almost to a man our instructors would say that our job was not Rocket Science.  One of my friends was Glen Priddy from Huntsville Alabama and he was a rocket scientist.  He got every point on all the exams and all of the extra credit points.  By the final exam, he had enough points to skip that exam if he wanted to.  

I think we graduated on Wednesday and I was not to report until Sunday to my new home over in the Robinson Barracks area.  That experience will begin tomorrow.



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