Part 9

This is the last of the updated war stories.  I am in OCS at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and nearing Graduation on the 3rd of July 1967.  I think I mentioned that my buddy Harvey rode the same bus I went to Kansas City on when I went up to be inducted.  He followed me to Leonard Wood a month later but there was somewhat of a snafu in his Reception Station Company stay and while I was there for less than a week, he was there for almost two weeks.  We really didn't have a chance to get together and I went off to Fort Sill when he was only in his second week of Basic. 
I tried to stay in touch with him and found out about the time I was home for the Christmas Holidays that he was on orders to go to his AIT in a real unit and was going to OJT rather than go to a unit like I did.  He had hopes of going to OCS but I worried that he would have a tough time with the gunnery that was so easy for me.  About the time I had turned Middle Class Harvey showed up at Fort Sill and started on his journey to being an officer. 

While I was able to do the work, I didn't find myself motivated to excel.  I worked hard to meet the standards and stay off the punishment tours.  There was one area that simple snuck up and surprised me.  Survey was an area that I grew to at least like strongly.  I had an attention to detail problem with math but for some reason either I was having an exceptional time with it or just the way it worked made it easy for me.  Basically what we did was start at a known point and mover the survey to three new points that closed back on the first point.  The way the forms worked if you did it all the numbers would match back at the starting point.  We sat in a class room and learned how and then went out and did the work.  I had done some layout work on my construction job and knew how to pull a tape and measure distances.  When we would get the first leg done we would sit in the back of a 3/4 ton truck and compute the work.  We basically converted everything to logarithms and then convert them back on the other end of the page.  I maxed the test and it was the only area other than gunnery that I found easy at Fort Sill.  Well, the first week of motors was way too easy for me.

There were Saturday morning inspections and often parades for the graduating classes.  They were a pain but we seemed to do well and my class looked good in formation.  One Saturday after we were in a parade, I found that I didn't have a clean set of Khakis to go on pass with.  I took the pair I had worn in the parade and ironed them and off we went to Wichita falls.  On Sunday I decided that I needed to stop in a Laundromat and do a load of whites.  My laundry bag was full and I didn't want to send it to the post laundry.  Just as we finished our laundry, a guy stopped me on my way back to the car.  he was a TAC Officer for a different Battery and he didn't like the fact that my Khakis weren't perfect.  In fact they were kind of sorry and he wrote me up for it.  I can't imagine anyone so chicken shit as to carry demerit slips in his cut off blue jeans and T-Shirt.   I went back to my Battery there in Robinson barracks and when I checked in I saw my TAC Officer had the duty that weekend.  He was in his office catching up on the paper work and I knocked on his door.  He invited me in and I explained what had happened.  He said that the guy that had stopped me was one of his class mates and the guy was truly challenged.  He wadded up that slip and threw it away.  Works for Me.

About once a month, there would be some kind of Firepower demonstration out on the range.  It was always fun to go watch units perform the jobs of the artillery and show off their prowess.  After being subjected to some neat artillery shooting and even a Napalm droop form some Air Force planes, they drove an Honest John Rocket out on the area in front of us.  They were going to fire it pointed west and there was an impact area way out there to shoot at.  In all that we had done at Fort Sill, we had never shot into the Quanah Parker Range so it was different.  They elevated the rocket launcher and a Lieutenant shouted, "Safe."  When it as launched, it was very apparent that something very major was wrong.  The whole launcher carried a truck with it and crashed and burned about 150 yards to the left of the stands in a big gulley.  It appeared that whatever held the rocket on the truck had not been disconnected and the rocket carried the truck with it down into the ditch.  To add a touch of humor, someone set of a Nuclear Display device over to the west to simulate the rocket's nuclear capability.  We could clearly see the burning mess in front of us and we all knew that some poor safety officer was headed to Korea as fast as his bags could be packed.

About a month later, we went up to a firepower demonstration up north on post and they were firing on Signal Mountain.  It was a part of the post we seldom used and it was interesting to see the demonstration from there. Near the end, several of the Army airplanes landed and showed off their short landing and take off ability.  Near the end they rolled a Little John Rocket off a Chinook and prepared to fire it.  I was only a candidate but I watched them set it up and get ready.  I told my friends that it was wrong but no one believed me.  They aimed it to the west of Signal Mountain and I told them that unless it had a left hand twist that damned rocket wasn't going to hit the mountain.    Sure enough, they fired it and the rocket was last seen going Southwest to land out in the country somewhere near Cashe, OK.  Someone had pulled up the front aiming stake the Safety Officer had set up the day before and moved it about five feet to the west as a joke.  Everyone was sure he would check it and realize there was something wrong. "WRONG AGAIN."

When we went on our field trip to perform the duties of a Howitzer battery I was the battery XO for the first part.  We did a hip shoot and everything went off well.  A while later, I was given a job in the Fire Direction Center and another Candidate was made the XO.  We rotated jobs to give as many people as they could to get one of the Leadership positions.  To make up some time, the Fire Direction Section and one howitzer was sent forward to a new position.  I watched as the XO Acting XO set up his aiming circle and then was amazed to see the safety officer then use it to check that one gun for safety.  We had been told that id you only had one aiming circle you would pick it up and move it at least a hundred meters and then check the lay of the gun.  When the first round of the gun was fired, the Forward Observer called us and said the round was lost.  They fired a second round and that was when all hell broke loose.  "This Fort Sill Range Control ALL UNITS Check fire!" Have your cannoneers fall in at the rear of the piece and do not fire.   Seems like we had fired two rounds off post and into the parking lot at a Steak House u[p by Lake Elmer Thomas.  The rest of the batter was enroute to the new position and they were allowed to bring their guns into position but no one fired for the rest of that night.   The next morning someone one set up the second aiming circle to lay the other five guns for direction.  When they checked the first gun it was at least 400 mills wrong.  A Bunch of officers from the Post showed up and saw the error.  Another 2nd Lieutenant went off to Korea.  We did get to fire later on that day and  we loaded up the howitzers to complete our field problem.  I had rotated back to the guns that next morning and  when it was time to hook the howitzer up to the 2 1/2 ton truck we were all pretty tired.  The Howitzer had a round device on the trails called a lunette.  It was placed on a hook like device called a Pintle on the truck. Somehow we missed the Pintle and the howitzer began to free fall to the ground.  When the howitzer was in the p position, it only weighed about 300 lbs.  Sitting on the ground it weighed about a ton or two.  The guy to my right had fallen down and the howitzer was headed to smash his legs.  Being a big strong dummy, I tried to hold the howitzer up to let him get out of the way.  I delayed the fall just long enough that he got out of the way.  When the howitzer finally fell, guess who's foot was under the trail.  Yep, I wouldn't even let them take my boot off, load me up in the jeep and go to the Hospital.  By the time we got there, they had to cut the boot laces off and pry my foot out.  All of the toenails on my right foot were purple but the toes were attached.  I was given pain medication and sent back to my unit.

I was on a buck slip for a couple of weeks and didn't march n the formations just to avoid having someone step on the toes of my right foot. 

Graduation day snuck up on us and we were ready to leave Fort Sill on Monday instead of Tuesday the 4th of July.  The real dumb thing is that a couple of the guys went on pass and for some reason didn't make it back until Monday morning.  It seems that they had gone and got drunk and just didn't get back to the post until Monday morning. The last time I saw them they were in the barracks when we went to the Graduation.  I am not sure what happened to them.

OH well, enough of war stories and back to the life of an Old retired Army Guy.

From Private to Colonel


New Story

As a kid, I am not sure of the reason why, but I felt I could do about anything I wanted, or at least needed to do.  We weren't too destructive, just busy.  Being a baby boomer, we were born before TV or computers took over our lives.  We could honestly find things to do and there was no shortage of things to do it with.  I'm sure that some of the other parents worried about their children but mine just didn't seem to notice as much.  I think they probably wore themselves out worrying about my sisters and by the time I got there they were too tired to care.

A typical summer day started out with cereal and a dash outside.  Eugene was waiting on his porch as he wasn't allowed in the house except for meals and bathroom breaks.  I don't remember ever being in his house and he probably doesn't either.  Once we had escaped to the outside (or been thrown out in Eugene's case) that's when things happened. 

One of our main past times was baseball.  We had an open field up at the end of Byrd street and it was the scene of more major ballgames than anywhere else.  Seems like we could almost always find a base ball and equipment to play.  In a lot of cases, you had to share you ball glove with someone else when your team batted.  We would choose up sides and most of the little kids just played outfield.  Seems like there would always be five or six out there.  They mostly didn't have ball gloves as they probably couldn't catch a ball even if they did.  They would chase down well hit baseballs and throw it as near to the infield as they could. 

One day right in the middle of one of these epic games,  the baseball we were playing with just lost it's cover.  We wore that ball completely out.  At the time, Mrs. Bandy has some baseballs in her freezer.  I think that was the only place she could lock them up.  We went on a pop bottle raid and somehow collected up a dollar.  We went to the Bandy's house and she sold us one of those frozen baseballs.  I am not sure other than Christmas that any of us ever had a brand new baseball.  It was no stretch to say that we used that ball for weeks until it too was lost or fell apart.  The only hard part was who was the keeper of the ball between games?  I am not sure but because I was generally the one to start gathering up people to play, I think I took it home that night.   Do you know the difference between a home run and a run home?  The sound of broken glass. 

When we were kids, there was no such thing as air conditioning.  Outside was our playground and it mattered little who had been in the bath lately.  I think that Mrs. Sawyer started to take some of us to the swimming pool to help get rid of the stink.   I thought it was funny that her son Ronny was the poorest swimmer and when we broke down in to class groups Ron was a Tadpole most of the time.  I started swimming in lakes and rivers and think it would have been tough to drown me.  I could swim almost as fast under water as most people could swim on the surface. 

 544 Byrd Street
Byrd Street there on the east side of Wichita ran parallel to the parking lot for Beech Aircraft.  They ran their lights most nights until well after the second shift go off.  We played some great hide and go seek games and "Kick the Can" was one of my favorite games.  The person(s) who was it would hunt for us and then run back to the can to capture those found.  If someone else kicked over the can, everyone would be free and we would start over.  It was a lot like Monopoly as some games just ended without a winner or looser.  I did learn that Mrs. Browner had prickly pear cactus in her front garden -The hard way.  I jumped in the garden to hide as someone ran by and it was a real pain to have my mother pick all those little brown cactus splinters out.   I think I itched for a week.

Did I mention Firecrackers?  For at least a week prior to the 4th of July there was an eruption of Black Cat firecrackers all the time.  We tried our best to blow up things and make as much noise as we could.  It was really cool to take one of those little tomato sauce cans and see how high we blow one up.  I seem to remember that baby food came in cans prior to the glass bottles.  I am sure that the mailman would have to reach in and kind of sweep out the paper from all of the firecrackers set off in them.  My sisters seemed to always have one or two of their boyfriends over and they were the one's that brought the big stuff.  My favorite was the time that one of them brought over a 4 dollar string of black cats and set the whole string off.  I picked up at least a hundred duds and I was in tall cotton.  I sat down with a razor blade and disassembled those crackers into the flash powder that made them go band and the fuses that had black powder in them.  We were into making those model cars and there was no shortage of those little bumpy glass paint bottles from Testor's paint.  No, I wasn't smart about the idea of shrapnel.  I filled a bottle with all the gun powder I could get I there.  I took at least three fuses from another pack of firecrackers and taped them together.  I poked a hole in the lid and put that fuse in the hole.  I put it on a fence post and tried to outrun the glass pieces.  It was almost dark when I got it ready and it turned into daylight when it went off.  My sister thought it was funny when she had to pick the glass out of a bunch of places on my back.  It was kind of cool, but I was damned lucky to have been able to get out of the real beaten zone.  That bottle  just broke into about 1/4 inch pieces and must have been a couple of hundred of them. 

Oh well, in spite of my misadventures I managed to survive and have all my fingers and toes.  I won't brag about my hearing but I think the howitzers and rifles in the Army did more to hurt than an occasional explosions. 

Better see if Barb needs any help.



Living Life as Best as I Can

Yesterday was my son's 38th Birthday.  Holy Crap, that means I must be old.  Just so you will know, it really doesn't sink in until I think back to how long it has been since some remarkable date.  Barb will celebrate her 50th High School graduation next year.  One year later I will be celebrating mine.  In a couple of years, I will have 50 years since I first wore an Army Uniform and a year after that from my commissioning date.  I guess my sign should be the bunch of Old Farts I see wearing Vietnam Veteran Hats. 

Last week we went down to Seminole Oklahoma and stopped in to see my cousin Robin and her husband Greg in Cleveland, Oklahoma.  It was pretty clear to me that they too have figured out that there are many ways to be happy in life.  We were fortunate to have both of their children there to visit at the same time we were there.  We even got to meet their granddaughter Ellie.  It is a shame that she is so shy. I guess Robin and Greg have both retired now and they both look are as happy as I feel.

Barb and I have almost everything we need and most of what we want.  We worked hard and saved money to get here but we are pretty darned happy with the way things have turned out. 

Another piece of good news is that Dave has completed his A+ Certification.  With his customer service experience and his time on the geek squad, he hopes to wrangle a new job soon.  He has great skills and now all it will take is for someone to meet him and see what he is worth. 

It has been kind of cool the last couple of days but I hope it will warm up some today and I get a chance to go cut down some trees where the new building will be  Last week we laid out the 24 X 30 pad and it is enormous.  I will also need to cut down the trees about 4 foot around the perimeter.  Oh well, perhaps I can use some of the wood to heat the building when it gets built.  I will only heat it when it is going to snow and I will need to use the tractor to push snow.   I don't want it to become a home for the pack rats.  They can just live out in the brush piles. 

Pushing Snow

I guess I'd better get moving and get some work done or it will get dark and I'll be wondering what happened to my day.



Booze to Youz

I come from a family of "Large Livers."  Not long livers, large livers from the consumption of many forms of alcohol.   I have been known to drink copious quantities of that yellow St Louis foam from Budweiser.  There was also a phase where I drank "Cutty Sark" scotch and one or two times I drank one of those single malt scotches from Glenlevitt.  I am currently in a phase of my life where I lay claim to be sober today.  Don't get me wrong, I am not an alcoholic. I am just a sober drunk and don't go to the meetings.  In the 12 steps there is a saying that I might not be sober forever but for today I am. 

I can't remember a time when alcohol wasn't a part of the family gatherings in my family.  The adults drank and kids mooched sips from time to time.  I am sure that a lot of people will tell you that they don't like the taste of beer but I was never that fortunate.  The only time when I would not have a taste for booze was after one of those times I really overindulged and it would take a week or two before I could even abide the smell let alone the taste of beer. 

I had a paper route in the 9th grade.  On Friday nights, one of my Friends Danny Rex and I would go to the movies.  His mother would give him enough money to go to the Drive-in and I would buy each of us a Quart of beer.  Danny was old enough to buy beer and we would take his 47 Ford Coupe and go see what ever was on.  Seems like as often as not, Danny would drink about half of his quart and either pass out or go to sleep and I would finish his quart and mine.  I often drove home.

I remember for my 16th Birthday several of us went to the Drive-in with lots and lots of beer.  I do remember getting so drunk that I started to the concession stand and I fell down in a mud puddle.  I am fairly sure that I would have drowned had my pal Denny L not stumbled on me as he too was headed to the bathroom.  He helped me up and back to the car.  He laid me on the ground there and everyone thought it was funny as I laid there and threw-up.  The sad thing was that by the time we went home, I was the most sober person and I drove home.  I remember going to work the next morning and the car was full of sloshing water and peanut shells.  I guess it is a good time to tell you that if you eat peanuts and drink, try to chew them up well.  They are like boulders coming back up if you don't.

Most of my time in Basic, AIT and OCS we were in forced sobriety and there was a few times I was able to have a couple of beers but not often.  My first time to be exposed to hard drinking was Fort Irwin, California.  We were 30 miles from Barstow, California and few of us had anything there to go see.  The daily routine was to go to the officers club and drink.  At least twice a week we had an officers call there and we would conduct our business and then the meeting would dissolve into playing Liar's Dice for pitchers of beer.  The entire staff of the battalion bought beer mugs and mad could we ever drink beer.  I never did learn to lie well and I bought a lot of pitchers.  The bad news was I also consumed a lot.  Our BOQ was right next door to the club so we could all walk home or stagger as the case might be. 

Next door to the club was the Class VI (6) store where they sold the hard stuff.  I was not 21 but they didn't ever ask for ID if we were 2nd Lieutenants.  I found that I had a taste for Cutty Sark and a fifth of it would just about last three days if I didn't go to the club for a round of beer.  The bonus was that they would even let me use my club card to charge it.  I had a fridge in my room and three ice cube trays.  I kept them full of water to make Ice. 

For some reason as we got to the Boat in Long Beach, I too them serious about no booze.  That meant that for 18 days I was in forced sobriety.  When we got to Vietnam, the daily limit was two beers and I pretty much followed that with a few slips.  To this day, I hate hot Carling Black Label in a rusty can.   am sure that the good stuff never cleared the ports and they drank up all the Budweiser.  The one exception to my forced sobriety was the time I somehow got a Quart of scotch enroute to an infantry unit that was in the Field.  The unit commander briefed me when I arrived and he said no booze in his unit.  I told him that I had a quart of Scotch and I would not drink it when I was in the field.  I old him that he could check the label anytime and he never did.  One of the old Sergeants found out somehow that I had a bottle.  He started the bidding for that bottle at $20 and by the time I had been there for 6 weeks he was up to a hundred dollars.  I never cracked the seal and took it with me when I left that unit.  I had a 2 quart canteen and when I got to base cam p and found that I would be there for a couple of days I emptied half of that canteen and filled it with Scotch.   I proceeded to get just as drunk as I could and stayed that way for a couple of days. 

The only other time I got drunk in Vietnam was during the Christmas cease fire.  My sister sent me a bottle of 409 cleaner and I wondered what the hell?  When I opened the cap, I found out that the flask was full of good old Scotch.  While we sat around and played cards that night I did sip from my canteen a few times. 

As I went to work for the Guard, I progressed up through the ranks and as the stress of my job got harder, I drank pretty much every night to cope with it.  I continued to drink but almost always at home so it wasn't a problem.  (to me)    Sometime about 20 years back, I was the Military Personnel Officer for the State and I hated every minute of that job.  One of my Officers scheduled a session for the Family Support Groups and it included a Alcohol Awareness class.  I took Barb and we attended that class.  The instructor handed out a sheet and had us answer the questions.  I answered 7 of the 10 "yes."   I saw that Barbara (who doesn't drink) answered 10 as a "Yes."  When the instructor told us that if we had 3 or more yes's we ere probably in need of help, I asked Barbara why she had 10 as yes.  She told me that she had answered the questions for me. When I asked her about the fact that I had only 7 and she had 10, she told me that I was probably too drunk to notice. 

That was the start of my sobriety.  Like I said, I may not be sober forever, but today I am.   I will probably stay that way until I die and reach that garden spot called Watkins Glen where I will share a mug of grog (whatever that is) and tell war stories with my earlier departed friends.  I may even smoke a cigar or two but that's a different story.

COL, USA (Ret) 


Part 8

In 1967 I went through Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  They had high standards and absolutely no compassion for the Candidates.  In fact there was a system that allowed the worst to come out in people and really didn't do much but harass people.  I came to the Robinson Barracks area after completing an OCS Prep class.  I knew what to expect and it was said that I could put a shine on a sidewalk with a Hershey bar and a brick.  In spite of that, it seems that every time I turned around someone wanted to give me a paper slip with Demerits to keep me from being allowed to relax a little on the weekends.

The first punishment tour was what they called the Parking lot.  I don't think there was anyone that didn't go on that first punishment tour.  In fact I think the Tactical Officers (Tac Officers) looked at the data posted in the Orderly room and found reasons to pass out enough demerits to get everyone in on the fun.  I am not sure what was my offense was after the time between now and then.  All I know is that we went over to the Orderly room and drew our M-14's for the event.  We wore our old boots and worse Fatigues for the day.  We were marched around the parade field and made enough dust to plug up everyone's sinuses and make cleaning the M-14's an hour long project. As much as I loved the M-14 in basic, I grew to hate it in OCS.  In fact, we never fired the damn things in AIT or OCS. The worse part of the entire parking lot tour was that one big long legged guy started off on his right foot not his left like everyone else.  Guess who knocked the heel off my boot.  As busy as we were there was just almost no way to get a new pair let alone make them shine to OCS standards.   The guy who knocked off my heel had just purchased a new pair of Corcoran Jump Boots and they were too small for him.  He had blisters so bad he had to go on sick call.  The good news was that they just fit me and he gave them to me.  They fit just about as good as any pair of boots I ever owned.  I could spit shine the toes of those boots and almost blind people on a sunny day.

I managed to stay off the too many demerit list for the next parking lot tour, but the first Jark was almost mandatory.  From the front gate of Robinson barracks it was 2.2 miles to the foot of Medicine Bluff-4 (MB4) and we walked in a funny stiff legged march they called the Adjutant Walk.  At the foot of MB4 we broke ranks and ran or trotted up the bluff. Then we would march back to our Barracks.  It was a tradition that the first time we went up MB4 we picked up a rock and carried it back to our Area.  We would go over to the bunk of someone we knew and leave it in their bed.  God only knows what happened to the rocks and I'm sure that MB4 kept getting shorter.  I don't a memory of the person I gifted the rock with. 

From that weekend on, I managed to stay just under the number of demerits it took to make a repeat trip.  I shut up and didn't tell anyone for fear that someone might tell the TAC officers and get me a bunch of trips.  I continues to polish my boots, Brasso my brass and wear a new uniform as much as I could.   In fact Sundays were great when I could go over to the Day Room and eat a couple dollars worth of Fried Pies and drink Coffee.  When everyone else or nearly everyone else went for a Jark I would take a well deserved nap.  

One Sunday morning one of the guys in our Cubicle went to the day room and brought a Baby Ruth Candy Bar back to the barracks.  Food was highly discouraged as it was bound to attract bugs and that was the last thing we needed.  My buddy was right in the middle of eating that damned candy bar when someone downstairs called "attention."  Rather than get caught with that evidence he stuffed the wrapper in a 3 Inch binder on the desk.  It was where we were to store handouts from our training classes but he had one that was empty.  Who ever it was downstairs didn't come up stairs and after he left the candy rapper got put in a trash can that was emptied every day. 

Well to make a long story out of a short one, that damned candy wrapper had one small piece of chocolate and a half of a peanut in it and they fell out on the desk.  The binder was just enough out of alignment to catch the TAC Officer's attention the next day when he walked through the barracks.  He found that damned sliver of chocolate and that half of a peanut.  There on the Desk was a 6X6 for unauthorized food in the barracks.  That was six weeks of no pass and 6 jarks.  The guy that put the candy wrapper there had a wife in Lawton and had not been home for over 8 weeks.  He begged us to split the punishment and I took a 2X2.  I really didn't have any one to see in Lawton so other than the Jarks it was not a big deal to me.   The only bad part of the entire mess is that my buddy failed a test the next week and was "Set Back" to a class that had to go through the Meteorological Instruction to pass the MET + VE test.  I have no clue if he ever graduated  What that meant was that I was all the way up to 3 trips up that damned hill.  If that wasn't a record, it had to be close.  I am pretty sure that One Parking Lot and One Jark would have been a record.

When we were middle class about to turn upper class, My parents brought a Volvo dawn for me to have if I was free on the weekend.  Was that ever a game changer for me.  I worked doubly hard to get free of the Post on the weekend and made it pretty much through the rest of OCS.  The car was given a temporary permit when it first got there and I was given a booklet on what the inspections to get a permit was.   Damn, I had never had a car with seat belts and the Volvo was no exception.  The first weekend I free I went to a local salvage and they let me look through the wrecks for a set.  O found a shoulder strap set but no lap belt.  I put them in and when the Inspector asked about seat belts at the MP station I showed him the shoulder strap.  I got my post sticker and moved on smartly.

The real reason I loved the Volvo was it gave me the freedom to go to Wichita Falls on Saturday.   Right there on the north side of town was a Ramada Inn with a swimming pool and next door was a Mexican Restaurant.  That Restaurant had a wonderful platter of food and a giant mug of beer that just  filled me up and caused sleep like there was no tomorrow.  I would get up on Sunday morning, read the paper, drink coffee and them go for a swim.  It was pure heaven for me.  I generally took three or four guys with me and we would go back to Lawton, OK and stop at a Pancake house on our way back in to the barracks.  Then it was another week of doing what we could do and look good doing it. 



OCS at Fort Sill, 1967 Part 7

I was a damned lucky guy to have completed OCS Prep and was I ready to for the BS and games they played when we got to OCS.  There was some story that the cadre wanted to see how we stood up to stress but I think deep down there was a tradition of screwing with people that just held on no matter how hard they tried to kill it.  It was clear that the young Officers going through the FA Basic course were not screwed with but the 23 week OCS classes we were fair game. 

Early Sunday Morning, three of us walked over to the Robinson Barracks area and reported to the Brigade headquarters.  We were marched down to one of the old wooden barracks and we were told to go in and get our gear in order.  I am not sure where they came from, but we were given a mimeograph paper with the lay-out in detail.  For the three of us from OCS Prep, it was just a matter of putting our things where they were on the new sheet and then help the others get ready.  I think it took me about 15 minutes and there were guys that were never ready.  If you  came from an Infantry AIT, your worn out stuff would never pass any inspection in OCS.  The bad part was that the PX in our area was closed and there was no way to get the stuff they needed.  We tried.  The only salvation in any of this was that there was one or two of the guys that were married and their wives were in Lawton.  After some serious work, lists of the needed things were made and the wives got together and saved our butts.  It was a blessing to have them to help but I'm sure that the fact the husbands couldn't even kiss them in the parking lot was a pain worse. 

The first two weeks were a blur and we spent that time making everything shine and be so clean you could eat off the floor.  The only good thing was that the first two weeks was called Motors and most of us could drive cars and trucks and knew the difference between Diesel and Regular Gasoline.  Even the short time getting a driver's license in basic helped me know some of the forms.  I think I slept through every movie we were given and passed that phase without no sweat.  The harassment continued and I had three guys in my cubicle that no matter how hard I worked could not get it together.  I am fairly sure that the fact my stuff looked good made theirs look worse.  Day after day we would come back to our barracks to find half of the stuff thrown all over the place and mine stuff was not messed with.  There was a system of demerits given and the only way you could work off the demerits was to do parking lot tours early and what we called jarks later on. 

From the start, it was easy to see that the barracks we were in while old, were so well maintained that we could easily make them look good.  I was the floor buffer and every day the last one out of the building.  We even made our class motto have notches where the heels of our boots and shoes would go so every display was the same.  I would sneak down to the mess hall and go in a side door when my duty was done.  For some reason I never was challenged on why I was late. It took the Battery at least 15 minutes to march down and get inside the mess hall. I would put that time to good use.  We were never given demerits for the shape of the floor so I continued that duty for most of the 23 weeks.

One day the Tactical Officer (TAC Officer) came in to our area and gave us a sheet so we could do a peer rating.  We took a roster of the names and put a number by each name for how helpful we had been.  The next week we were called into the TAC Officer's office and given our Leadership grade.  Keep in mind, I was squared away, worked hard and helped anyone that needed help.  The TAC Officer gave me a 69 for my Leadership grade.  In common language that was a failing grade.  He said that I was ranked in a three way tie for 1 out of 30.  He said I was too young and too helpful.  I asked him what the scores on the Motors test were.  He said I was scored  100 out of 100 and based on that he might give me a chance.  He told me that every time my peer rating went down, my leadership grade would go up.  It took me until the end of OCS to get that grade back up in the 90's.

It didn't take us long to get our Platoon attitude in check and make a motto.  We would shout cooperate and graduate and we worked hard to overcome any one soldier's short comings.   In fact, we made a banner on the end wall that said, "Iligitimi Non- Carborundum" roughly translated to don't let those of uncertain parentage grind you down.  When we were put on a bus to go to a new area, we would always start out with the group chant.  "We hate this fucking place."  Then someone would say Give me a Positive attitude check, "We positively absolutely hate this fucking place."  I don't know if that ever got back to our Battery but a lot of the drivers were old retired guys and they laughed at us - A Lot! 

Next update will be a couple days from now and I'll talk about the Demerits, the parking lot tours and the Jark.


Part 6

Upon arrival at Fort Sill, we were told to go stand in a line and give the secretary the Records folder that we had been given.  When it was my turn, the secretary opened the file and said, "There seems to be a mistake, you were ordered to go to Fort Lee for AIT.  I tried to explain that there had been a screw up on the orders and I was told to come to Fort Sill.  Of course it was assumed to be my fault and I was sent over to sit on a bench until someone cleared it all up.  I waited most of the day right there on that damn bench.  I was not allowed to even go over to the vending machines to get a snack. 

Finally about 5 Pm when everyone was getting ready to go home for the day, a very tired looking Captain came over and got me.  He explained that I didn't have orders for Fort Sill and I was AWOL from Fort Lee.  Instead of having me taken to the MP station, he said he would send me over to the transit barracks for the night.  What could I do but follow orders.  had I been arrested I could have kissed OCS goodbye.    The next morning I went back to the transit point and the secretary handed me a set of orders telling me to report to the OCS Preparatory Battery.  She sent me out front where a Military taxi was waiting. 

When I got over to the OCS Preparatory area, I was told by the clerk that I was late and the First Sergeant would see me soon.  I waited until about noon and finally the First Sergeant called me into his office.  I was given an ass chewing of the finest kind.  Finally when he ran out of things to shout about he asked me what I had to say for myself.  I calmly explained that I had applied for OCS and somehow the orders got screwed up.  It took until that morning for them to catch up with me and if he didn't mind I had every intention to do exactly what I was ordered to do.  "Get the hell out of my office trainee."  On to the rest of the day.

When I went upstairs to the big rooms called bays, there was about 100 guys in there trying to figure out what the hell they had gotten themselves in for.  About every half hour some Lieutenant would come in and shout at us for being morons.  We were given a piece of paper that detailed what our footlockers and wall lockers were to look like and we damned sure had better get our act together.  Finally it was time for dinner and while we were gone, the Lieutenant had come in and torn our displays all to hell.  I had arrived late and was down in the corner.  I guess the Lieutenant had kind of run out of steam and he didn't throw my stuff so far away that I could not tell mine from everyone else's.  By that evening, there was a revolt brewing and I think about half of the guys there wanted to quit.  By the next morning, there was a line outside the orderly room door of people that had all of the Chicken Shit stuff they could stand.  I didn't know an better and stayed.

After the group thinned out, our Training NCO SFC Flores came in and briefed us on what would be expected for the rest of the time.  He was about half right.  The standards did get us ready for OCS but the games they played were way more chicken shit than OCS was.  We were given our first inspection that first week and were given an on post pass.  I promptly found a small grill/bar/snack shop and ate myself silly on hamburgers and beer.  I think that saved my life as I had not eaten a single meal worth eating in a week. 

The classes started and we were told that we were going to get the MOS of 13E which was field Artillery Fire Direction Specialist as well as get ready for OCS.  Just about the time things settled down, the whole world collapsed around us.  We were moved from the 1960 era buildings to the WWII barracks over by the OCS area.  They had just renovated those barracks and they were way not up to the shape of the OCS barracks.  The red vinyl we saw in the OCS barracks was a pink color and no matter how much liquid wax we applied never got very dark.  Classes continued and while I was learning a lot things in the barracks never got much better.  In the middle of the sixth week, we had the Colonel's inspection and he only made it about half way down the first row of bunks when he promptly threw a fit and left. 

The NCO's all were in what I called a low hover and there was not much more we could have done.  We were restricted to the barracks and told that until the re-inspection it was to be assholes and elbows cleaning the joint.  The biggest complaint was the floor didn't shine.  Finally I went to SGT Flores and asked him what the hell more could we do.  He told me to take up a collection and get about $30.  I did and he left only to come back with a bunch of cans called "Red Tree Wax"  Because I knew how to run a buffer, I became the machine operator to a team that applied the wax.  We even had one of the little guys sit on the buffer to burnish the wax.  We buffed away the next night and finally the floor began to look somewhat red and not pink.  It was hard to get the color even around all the partitions but we got it much better.  On Monday the Colonel came back and was happy.  It is amazing what a little wax and knowledge made.

A couple of days later, the LT came into the barracks and found a couple of foot lockers unlocked.  Shit hit the fan and our "Lack of attention to detail" was the cause of more punishment.  One of the guys was from New York City and had just purchased his bus ticket so he could go home for Christmas.   He was told that he would have to do a push-up for every penny that ticket was worth and for the next week every time we stopped anywhere you could hear that poor guy in the back of the formation, "One Sir, Two Sir..."  I think he had to do three hundred push ups the last day so he could get on that damned bus for Christmas.

I went home to Wichita for Christmas and was told that I had to wear my uniform the entire time I was home.  Not having a one hour Martinizing there, I put my uniform in the cleaners and wore what the hell I wanted for the next week or so.  I was able to find a date or two during my stay in Wichita but no one that I knew well or wanted to know someone that had Vietnam written all over him.  Yep, I was well on the Vietnam express and knew it.

When we got back to Fort Sill, I really got to know Glen Priddy.  He was just a little taller than I was so when we lined up by height we were next to each other a lot.   He was an honest to God Rocket Scientist and engineer and it was pretty frustrating to get almost of the questions on the test correct to find he got all of them right and then all the extra credit points.  Glen and I stayed together there in AIT and were on orders for the same OCS class in February.  We were going to be Class 25-B and graduate on the 3rd of July 1967.  It would have been the normal Tuesday graduation but nothing happened on the 4th of July. 

Next time it will be OCS.

PVT E2 MUD, soon to be candidate


Part 5

This is after the rifle range and I had earned a pass.  I went beyond the pass limits to go to Pruitt Arkansas but I figured what the hell.  When I got to my Grandparents house, my dad asked me to come outside and talk.  He had been told by my girl friend's uncle that Donna had married a sailor.  Had I known that, I would not have sent her any money I had saved from my first pay day.  I wasn't crushed because during the time I was in the Army she had only written me one letter and that was to ask for money. She said she was pregnant and Dad said she told her family that it was the Sailor's kid.  I went back to Basic training with a renewed feeling that I had things to do and a new future.

When I managed to get back to my Basic Training Company after my trip to the Ozarks, I was one dehydrated guy and had a headache that felt like it could kill.  About the time three aspirins kicked in, a group of guys that went to Springfield on the bus with me showed up.  There were black eyes and bruises all over them.  The Guy I had pulled KP for took off his Class "A" Jacket and all that was left of his shirt was the collar and it had just enough of the collar to tie a tie on.  When he took off his hat the top of his head was the home to new stitches and what little hair he had was shaved like a monk. 

The group went to a cowboy bar in Springfield and harsh word were exchanges with some of the locals over a girl and when one of the heroes shouted "Kiahaa" and took the hand to hand stance he was promptly hit over the head with a beer bottle.  From there, the fight spilled out into the street and the soldiers were promptly ass kicked and sent packing.  Only Weldon, my KP Friend had to go to the Hospital. He seemed to be wounded with a 40mm beer bottle at least half full.  Because the guys got back in time for their passes to end, they weren't punished for the fight.

The next morning, the Company commander called several of us over to his jeep and we were asked if we would wanted to go to Officer Candidate School?   He told us that if we did, we needed to sign some form he had.  I figured that I had little else to do so I did.  After we signed the paper he told us that we would have to go before a board of officers in a couple of days.  If accepted we would have to spend 23 weeks in OCS and then sign up for an additional 24 months.  I figured out that it would give me enough months to finish my college on the GI Bill and besides, that little Police Action in Vietnam would surely be over soon.  Wrong!

A couple of days later we were all spit shined up and told to report to  the day room over at the 2nd Brigade Headquarters.   Sir, Private Petty Reporting as Ordered...  The senior officer returned my salute and I was told to take a seat.  The asked me a couple of questions and then the question of the day was asked.  If selected, what OCS would I like to attend.  I had been told in ROTC that I should go to the sound of the guns and when I saw the Field Artillery Brass on the senior officer I told them that Field Artillery was my first choice and Infantry was my second.    When we got back to our barracks, we were told that about half of us had been selected to go on in the process.  I was immediately scheduled for a Pre Commissioning Physical over at the Hospital.  That process took a couple of days and when I got back to the Company, I found out that they were out in the field on Bivouac.  I was sent over to the Mess hall to load the truck to take the evening meal out to the field.  I went out with the mess team and fed my friends.  They told me stories of throwing the grenades and the live fire assault course.  I was kind of bummed but when I got to go back to the barracks to sleep. I promptly got over it.

The next week our Drill Sergeant asked us if we wanted to be a drill team for a football game the next weekend.  For the next couple of days we practiced and drilled.  We could do the Queen Anne's Salute and at least looked like we knew what to do.  Sure enough the next weekend we were inspected and loaded into a couple of Vans and taken to Springfield where there was a football game. We did a great job and the crowd clapped for us.  It impressed the drill Sergeant so much that we were taken to a liquor store and allowed to have a beer (or two) on the way back. 

I went in to the Orderly room on Pay day and because I knew where to look I saw the board with the points applied.  I saw that I had been credited for the bivouac and the hand grenades.  There was even an automatic weapons score that I had no clue had been done.  There was a string of 10s across the board and the only one short was a 9 1/2 for the rifle range.  It looked like a perfect run of tens and I noticed that there was a soldier named Burden that had the same score except he had a 10 for the rifle range.  I went over that day and told him that he must be a hell of a soldier to be perfect.  He had no clue what I was talking about.  I told him about the score board and his perfect run.  We shook hands and went back on our way. 

When we got to the end of Basic, a select few were promoted to PVT E2 and I saw that I was on that list.  I also saw that PVT E2 Burden was on that list also.  Shortly after that. The orders for Advanced Individual Training were posted.  My name was listed for Fort Lee, VA.  I went over to the orderly room and asked what had happened to the OCS orders.  I was told to hang tight and there would be orders for Fort Sill sent over.  I missed the bus to the Airport for the trip to Fort Lee and was told to get my butt on the bus for Fort Sill.  I did not have any orders in hand but they were to be at Fort Sill. It wasn't the first lie I was told in my Military Career but one that almost cost me a trip to OCS.
Tomorrow Advanced Individual Training (AIT)

PVT E-2 Mud

War Stories Part 4

I grew up with either a play gun or a bb gun in my hands, a lot.  There were no video games to sharpen my eye hand coordination back then.  There was even a time when I was allowed to shoot a .22 rifle in Arkansas.  As a kid, I was good with the guns and loved it.  If that was child abuse, it paid off in the Army.

We carried our M-14s for several weeks prior to ever getting the chance to shoot them.  I loved the balance and while it was a heavy sucker, it felt like a balanced weapon to me.  I was at least "in like" with the M-14 prior to going to the rifle ranges at FLW. 

We were lined up on the gravel drive with our weapons on a Monday morning and most of us were just full of anticipation of the trip to the rifle ranges.  We had been marched to almost every event we went to for the previous five weeks.  To find strange cattle trucks lined up on the road was strange.  I say cattle trucks but there were seats inside the trucks.  We were taken about five miles out on one of the range roads to an area we hadn't ever been.  Fall out and line up, get off my trucks and line the hell up. 

About ten people were taken over to a small house where there was a pile of magazines and several ammo boxes of 7.62mm ball.  We were instructed to load the magazines with three rounds and when we had a couple of hundred magazine filled about half of us were sent back over to the range.  I had no idea that we needed to zero the rifle and that was our setting for the rest of the time.  We went to what they called the 25 meter range and given a short class about what the sight picture would look like.  At about 75 feet, the strike of the bullets even if not on the center of the target, should be evenly spaced and in the same area of the target.  My M-14 shot well and I put three rounds low and left.  The Drill Sergeant told me to crank my sights up seven clicks and left 2 from center.  The next three rounds were all centered on the bulls eye and I was told to go back over an load three round magazines.  Shit oh dear, if I had known that shooting well would put me on that detail I would have shot all over the place.  We spent the rest of that day trying to get the city boys to learn how to breathe and shoot at least a consistent manner.  At the end of the day, we looked for the trucks and were told we would have to march back.  At least we had our drums to speed up the pace.

My bunk mate could hit the inside of a barn if he was inside.  From the repeated three rounds, he had a swollen cheek where his thumb had repeatedly hit him in the face.  I think they brought one of the loaders over and zeroed his rifle for him.  This was a sign that he would have trouble when we shot on the record ranges.  It seems like there are just some people that grow up flinching when a loud noise is made near them.  My bunk mate was one of those guys and the more he shot, the worse his cheek looked like and the more he jumped.  We sat down and talked about it for hours and then the first round would go off and he just would flinch.  No, it was a bad flinch and there was no consistency as to what his body would involuntarily do.  The only good news was that he was going to an assignment in Intelligence and not infantry. 

I blew through each phase of the rifle ranges with the minimum number of rounds.  I could see the targets out at the maximum range and could hit them with a regularity that was just a natural to me.  I continued that pace until the last of the week when we went over to the record range.  It was a range that had pop up targets that at 25 meters was just the head of the target showing.  The full size target was out at 450 meters and I was ready.  In fact, the Drill Sergeant made us skip out morning coffee that day to have a steady hand.  The shooting was done from several positions and one included jumping down into a hole and firing from a supported position.  I hit almost everything from the standing and kneeling position.  I missed seeing one of the real close targets and then we came to the cement culvert position.  As I jumped down in the hole, my helmet hit the rear sight of the rifle.  I missed the first two targets down in the hole and the sergeant said I needed to re-zero my weapon.  I ran the sight down and back up and from then on didn't miss a target.  When I was finished I was told that I had missed the close in target from the kneeling position and  two from the culvert and one while I re-zeroed my weapon.  I was qualified as an expert but one round from the High Expert. At the time I was very proud of my score and could not wait to get an expert marksmanship badge to wear on my uniform.  I had no idea that I was just one 1/2 point from the maximum score.

My bunk mate did not qualify and was just heartbroken.  He was scheduled for a make up on Saturday morning and there was just no way I could have gone for him.  I would have cheated for him if it had been possible.  About noon that Saturday he showed up back at our barracks and had a smile almost as big as the bruise on his cheek.  He had qualified by one round and thought that Marksman was just fine.  He would not wear a badge.
We were told that the next weekend we would be given a off post pass based on how we scored on the rifle range. Those that scored expert would get released at noon and those that were sharpshooters could go at 4 PM.  The marksmen would get Sunday off.  I had grandparents living by Harrison, AR and as soon as I could, I took a bus to Springfield.  I hitchhiked south to Harrison and then down to Pruitt.   I ran down the road to my Grandparents house and promptly got drunk as I could. 

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the aftermath of that day of leave.

Somewhat Free for a Day

Part 3

Yep, I am still in Basic Training at Fort Lost in the Woods.   I was serious about learning everything I could.  Someone had a training book someone gave them and they threw it away.  I took it out of the trash and read it until the pages were worn and dirty.  I did everything I could and really tried to do it right. 

Somewhere about the fifth week of Basic I was looking at the guard roster and there I was listed as a Driver of the Guard.  At the appointed time, the driver's were taken over to the Main Motor Pool and told to draw a van.  I went out to the van area and started the inspection just as we were told and after finding red line faults on the first five vehicles, the clerk in the Motor Pool gave me the keys to a van told to just take it and go back to my company.  It was a brand new GMC Van and I loved it.  After the rest of the guys stood Guard Mount we were all told to go back to our barracks, except for the drivers.  I was told that I would sleep on a cot in the orderly room and t would be my job to get the guys for guard duty and take them out to their posts.

As I entered the back part of the orderly room, I saw for the first time that each Drill Sergeant had his trainees listed on the board and points scored on each event they had been trained on.  I looked up my name and saw that I had scored all the points available at that time and had about half of the total points done.  Only then did I realize that the Drill Sergeant had a clip board and scored us every time we performed an event.

Yesterday I mentioned the trainee squad leader we were assigned.  There was one guy, named smith that was just 5'4" tall got picked on a lot by the acting NCO.  I was told that it was my job to help the little guy throw the dummy grenades and so he could pass the PT test.  Every time we stopped he and I would take the ammo can of grenades over to the side and throw them. He carried that can everywhere we went. I would get just out of his range and return them to him.  Sometimes I would hit his feet and he would get mad and throw them harder back at me.  It was plain that he was getting better and just might pass the PT test. 
One after  long day, the acting NCO pushed Smith up against the wall and then threw him down the outside stairs of our barracks.  I had had it with that behavior and told several of the guys about it.  I had never heard the term "Blanket Party" but I was all for it.  About midnight four of the biggest guys crept up on the bunk of the acting NCO and with a blanket held him down.  Several of us hit him and he was told that in no uncertain terms that he would never hit Smith again.  Just as those words were said, Smith came over with a bar of GI Soap in a sock and swung it as hard as he could.  It scored a direct hit on the family jewels and it did not matter how hard we held, the acting NCO sat right up. The gig guy up my the head of the bed threw a left and knocked him back flat.  At that point we decided he had the message and left the area.  It probably took a few minutes for him to get his act together and he went next door to the orderly room.  Oh shit, oh dear, no one had considered that it might be a courts martial offense to try to teach that bozo right from wrong.  The next day, I was called to the orderly room and SGT Tignor closed the door and asked me what had happened.  He didn't read me my rights or have a witness so I told him what had happened.  He told me that he was disappointed that we just didn't come to him to get it stopped but I think he was proud that his little band of misfits had solved the problem.   Later on that day the acting Sergeant come out to the platoon without his stripes and black eye. 

About that time, our Company decided we needed to have drums to help us march everywhere we went.  I had been in the band and volunteered to be a drummer.  I was given the Tom-Tom and one of the Guardsmen was given the snare drum.  I am not sure who played the bass drum but from then on everywhere we went you could hear us long before you saw us. As soon as I was selected for that duty, I was listed as an assistant Squad leader and my name got taken off the KP roster. 

One Friday, one of the guys that played football for the Brigade said that he was to play football the next day and he was on KP.  I told him that I would come over about 10AM and see if they would let me replace him to play football.  A the appointed time, I went to the mess hall and told the Mess Sergeant what I wanted to do.  He could not believe that anyone would volunteer for KP and he told PVT Parnell to get his ass over to his barracks and get cleaned up.  The kid that was the Dining Room Orderly was re-assigned to the pots and pans outside and I was given the duty of cleaning up the dinning room between meals.  The good news was I knew how to run a buffer and clean was my middle name.  I could run that buffer and put a shine on a sidewalk with a Hershey bar.  That was the only time I ever had KP in the service.

Tomorrow the rifle range starts.  I got my first taste of firing the M-14 and was I ever in love with that.

Almost found in the 60's.


War Story Re-Told Part 2

On the 6th of September, 1966, I was sent to the downstairs area of the AFEES center in Kansas City.   Someone read the list of names and we lined up in Alphabetical order.  Seems like there were three or four lines about 25 to 50 across. I don't remember where the break was, but a part of the group was told they were going to be in the Marines. There was a group that had volunteered but a bunch more were added as draftees.  I never had a thought in the world that it was even possible but a fairly large group was designated.  We were told that we were about to be inducted into the military and told to take one step forward if we agreed to do so.  I don't remember anyone not stepping forward in that group.  We raised our right hands and took an oath.  I always got the oath from the Boy Scouts and the orders of Guard duty confused.  On my honor I swear that I will perform my duties in a Military manner until properly relieved?  Nah, that isn't it but I was sworn in no matter what I said.

Just as promised, a Marine Gunnery Sergeant told all the Marines to do a right face and file out of the door at the end of the room.  I am not sure where they went but it was either the east Coast or the West Coast.  Lejeune or San Diego.  I was headed out of the door to a waiting bus for the glorious location of Fort Lost in the Woods, MO.  (Fort Leonard Wood).   We left mid afternoon and had no idea what was in store for us.  Somewhere about half way to our new station, the bus stopped and we were issued meal tickets for a dinner meal at a truck stop.  I had my first chop suey meal there and I was filled to the brim.  I fell asleep on the bus and was awoken about midnight by someone telling me to get off their damn bus.  We were taken outside and lined up and someone took a head count and had us shout when our name was read off the list. 

After an hour of that, we were taken over to a big barracks building and issued a sheet and a blanket.  We were told to find a bunk and get to sleep.  We were allowed to go to the bathroom if needed but I'm sure that none of us were allowed to shower or brush our teeth.  After what seemed like only a moment. someone turned on the lights and kicked a trash can down the middle aisle of the barracks.  Grab your socks, drop your cocks and get your asses out on the street!   I have no clue who it was but I suspect it was one of the Drill Sergeants from the Company we were soon to be assigned to.

In case I have overlooked the detail, everyone new to the Army goes through what they called Reception Station.  They did their best to take a group or civilians and at least make us look like soldiers.  We were marched over to the mess hall and they had several guys fall out of the line and go inside to be servers.  I was chosen and someone told me to man the toast machine and keep making toast until I was told to stop.  About half way through, a couple of pieces got burned and I set them aside.  Someone came by and took them to make French toast.  I passed on that when I went through the line. 

For the next three days, we were taken to an issue point to be given a duffel bag full of clothes, a PX to buy a lock for a wall locker and the infamous hair cut.  As the barber would ask the guy, "Do you want your sideburns?"  He would then cut one off and throw it in the recruits lap and say, "Here"  We went into the barbershop looking like civilians and came out looking like a bunch of  members of a bald headed gang. As I remember we had to pay for the haircut even though it was only 75 cents. It was really funny at first to have spent a couple of days with someone and not even remotely recognize them when they were scalped.  We were soon issued uniforms and at least one set had a name tape on it so we knew who everyone was.  Our small barracks was soon filled and we were told that the soldiers in three other barracks would be joining us our Basic Training Company.  Every morning, we were lined up and taken on a giant police call.  That became the norm and someone told us the we could light 'em if we had 'em and everyone else fell out for police call.  I hadn't been a smoker but I like a bunch of the other guys became one right there in our first week of the Army.

We were given shots, lectures, uniforms, tests and sometime the last day several Drill Instructors showed up and we were broken down into platoons. I don't remember the exact test, but somewhere in the middle of al that testing I was told that about 25% of us had scored high enough to take the OCB and I did.  Later on I found out that it was the Officer Classification Battery test and I had qualified to take the test and scored high enough to go to OCS if selected. 

There was also the station where we were given the classification briefing and we were told to sit down by some Specialist 5 and he told us where we were going to go in the Army.  I remember being told that I would probably be assigned as an armorer 76Y  but I had Infantry written all over my name.  I was given the opportunity to sign up for an extra year with a guarantee that I wouldn't get infantry.  No Thank you Specialist, I would take what the Army gave me and that was good enough.  Three of the guys in our platoon took that offer and they were mad as hell when the orders came out at the end of Basic and they found out that about 50% of the class were going to be supply guys. 

I met SFC Tignor and was told I was now a Tignor's Tiger.  (Followed by a Growl)  We were put on trucks and hauled over to an old part of Fort Leonard wood and put in barracks that were built for WWII.  The next couple of days we were marched all over the place and given drill and ceremonies training with our rifles.  I loved the feel of an M-14 early in the morning.  Every day we cleaned our weapons, shined our boots and marched.  OK, I left out the part about shine and shit but that is a fun story tomorrow. A Couple of guys that had been in the Army a week longer than we had been were assigned as acting NCO's and they were with us as we went through everything.  One guy was wearing acting NCO stripes of a Staff  Sergeant Three up stripes and one rockers and one was just an acting Sergeant.  The guy we had over our squad was the acting Sergeant and he was an utter asshole.  He had no leadership ability and he immediately picked one of the smallest guys to shout at every time he felt like it. 

The platoon I was in had at least four members of the Minnesota National Guard Band in it and they were a hoot.  Ya, I be from Min E Sota and I like an ice cream coen.  They knew they were going to go to Fort Leavenworth for their Advanced Individual Training and would be home by Christmas.  They spent as much time as they could trying to figure out ways to laugh and have fun.  I took this shit serious because we were told that we needed to learn as much as we could as we were probably gong to Vietnam and being stupid was a real good way to get killed.  That didn't mean that I didn't laugh at the funny things those Guard Guys said and did.  I just listened to everything that sounded like good information and tried to do everything as right as I could.

Near the first of Basic, the Drill Instructor asked us who had a valid license driven a truck?  I know we were told to never volunteer but I raised my hand.  They had us fall out of the formation and we were marched over to the Big Motor Pool on Main Base.  We were given about three hours of instruction and then an actual driving test.  I passes and wondered what the heck I would do or be told to do now that I had a military driver's license.  More about that later.  I was given a license that had all commercial vehicles and trucks up to 2/12 Ton on it.  There was no Bus listed so at least I knew I wouldn't be hauling the platoon around.

Private Petty, 1966
Part 3 tomorrow.

MUD - Lost in the 60's


Old Story Re-told

I am going to start re-telling the story of MUD Goes to War.  I will try to tie snitches or snippets of how I got there and what I did when I did get there.  Put on your helmets boys and girls and I remind you that this all happened over 45 years ago and with embellishments has been told once or twice.  It is at best Faction as there will be the skeleton of fact with the meat of remembrance wrapped around it.

1948 Picture of MUD

Being born in 1947, I was one of those Baby Boomers that grew up in the afterglow of the US winning a war that saved the world.  Including the competitive game we played, it was no sin to drag out our pretend weapons and shoot every enemy from those pesky redskins up to an including the japs.  The tough job was getting the other guys to be the enemy and fall down when you obviously had just killed them.  It wasn't until I got my BB Gun that I realized that I probably would have killed the enemy because I could hit most of the things I aimed at with my new weapon of choice. 

I attended Minneha elementary and Junior high on the east side of Wichita and I read everything about battles I could find in the library.  A few years ago there was a reunion at Minneha and I went to see if it had changed much.  At that time it hadn't but now it is a magnet school and in the Wichita school system.  I went into the library and there on the shelves were all the Biography's of Generals from the Civil War through WWII.  I took a couple off the shelf and sure enough the old card system still showed that Denny Petty had read them. 

We played baseball, football and about anything that included competition.  Throw in a fist fight or two here and there and you might understand the nature of the guys that grew up in a poor but varied neighborhood.  I think we would best be called lower middle class or upper lower class.  I prefer to think of us as the cream of the crap.  I went to school with the kids from Eastborough and Forest Hill and could out cuss, out fight and damn sure out run most of them.

I don't know all the facts but Beech Aircraft was in a battle with the city of Wichita in the 60's over annexation.  To make us pay the price, they sent all the kids in the 1964 through 70 class to one of three high schools.  Our family all went to Southeast High and we were forced to pick East High, Wichita heights or Andover.  Most of the girls in my neighborhood chose Wichita Heights.  Most of the guys chose East.  I am sure that not having my girl friend in my school on a daily basis did not hurt me at all. 

 1965 Senior Picture

The biggest accolade I can say about my high school years is that I graduated.  I did sing in the high school choir and the select Madrigals group but mostly I worked, supported a car and a girlfriend.  I think somewhere I am listed as being in the bottom 25% of my class in terms of grades.  Today I wouldn't have been selected to attend college but then if you could graduate from High School the colleges in Kansas were made to accept you.

My first experience with the Military came as a student at Wichita State.  ROTC was a mandatory subject and I followed the rest of the sheep and took the class.  Once a week we wore our uniforms and drilled.  We were also scheduled to attend one lecture a week about the Military Customs and mostly it was the Sgt Major telling war stories about his time in the Army.  The only thing I remembered about those informational periods s that he did say that if we wanted to get promoted, "Go to the sounds of the guns."  Artillery, Armor and Infantry are the branches that have a lot of fast promotions.  What he failed to mention is that those are the branches where a lot of young men were killed and promotions helped fill the middle ranks where the heroes were taken out. This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

Somewhere during the second semester, I learned to play 10 point pitch in the Campus Activity Center (CAC) and was well on my way to flunking most of my classes.  I beat a hasty withdrawal and was just in time to avoid getting flunked out.  My first semester I had made all C's and somehow the drop slip from a religion class slipped by and I had just under a 2.0 average when I came back.  The only thing I did not do when I started at WSU was apply for a Draft Deferment because of ROTC.   I promise you that if you reach the ripe old age of 19 in the middle 60's, you could feel the cool breeze of the draft on your neck. 

I have left out the story of my first love here because it makes me look like even a bigger rube than I was.  I was in lust with a young woman that had no moral fiber and the first chance she got to get married to someone else, she did.  At the time I entered the service, I was kind of heartbroken and I applied all my excess energy to doing everything I could, the best as I could.  More of that story later on. I spent my time that spring and summer working construction.  I was making great money and drank a lot of beer.  I thought I was in the best shape I could be in and could lift anything that was loose on one end.  I didn't consider that I would have to run in combat boots but I did an honest days labor for an honest days pay.  The girl I was in lust with joined the Navy and I waived her goodbye. 

Just about the time I turned 19 in August 1966, I got a letter from The Local 69 Draft Board that sent me to Kansas City for a "Pre-Induction Physical."  This meant that unless they found something seriously wrong with you, they were going to throw you name in the draft soon.  I had no knowledge at that time that a 1 followed by a bunch of A's made me prime beef.  Now I know the A's were in the category of PULHES (Physical, Upper Body, Lower Body, Hearing, Eyes and Senses) This rating was about as far from 4F as you could get.  I am not sure what got back to Wichita faster, me or that rating.  The Board held a meeting the next week and soon I had a letter in my hand that started out "Greetings..." 

Moving right along to the trip to Kansas City to the Armed Forces Entrance and Examination Station (AFEES) to be inducted.  The only thing that helped me make this trip somewhat enjoyable was the fact that my best buddy Harvey was going for his Pre-Induction Physical when I was being inducted. We had a good time talking about our construction jobs and the beer we drank that summer.  He passed is physical and I went to the basement for the swearing in ceremony.  I will tell you about that next time.

Harvey and I a few years later.

ORAG (Old Retired Army Guy)



Fall has Fell

Rabbit Run Fall Colors

This morning I went out to fetch the paper and the fall colors right up by the house were just so pretty that I went back in and got my camera.  This a picture of the hickory trees in the front yard.  They are in an area that was filled in after the house was built and they have slightly smaller leaves and show fall color the earliest.  This is just a taste of what most of my trees are starting to look like.

This morning the President gave his victory speech and said there are three things that the congress needs to get done.  First he feels that a  more balanced budget is needed even if he did fudge history a little.  He said the deficit was the lowest in 50 years.   He has forgotten the Clinton years when the congress passed a balanced budget and other than the interest there was no deficit.  But, with that said, we do need to understand that the sequestration move is coming and if we don't take small bites out now it will force out hand.

The second thing the President said that we need immigration reform.  He has the strange notion that the non citizens will pay fines to become citizens.  Hell, we can't control them now, what does he think it will cost to do that.  Until the border patrol can come into our communities and vet all the employees of a business, there I no hope that we will ever get a handle on the illegals except to have them vote.

The final thing he said we need is a farm bill to make sure that our food supplies can be sustained.  I really don't care what the poor folks get out of the bill as long as the farmers can produce a product and make a living.  Our local dairy is about to get their doors shut because it costs about $8.00 a gallon to produce milk and the Governments continues to give it away. 

Oh well, another crisis averted until later.    More on that later. 



I Wonder?

How many Blog Posts it will take to get a comment. 

How can the People in Washington D.C. not understand that if we do what we did, we will just get what we got.  If we don't change, the slippery slope will bite us in the butt.

How many deaths will it take at 62nd street North and US 75 before the Highway department find a way to get people to stop at the stop signs.  Cars driving 70 MPH just tear the hell out of the driver's door.

There are three girls that bullied another girl until she committed suicide.  What could those parents have been doing to raise children that care so little.  The Chief of Police showed one post on Facebook where one of them said she didn't give a damn that it happened.  Who do you punish?  The child of 14 should know better but the parents are responsible in there somewhere.  Perhaps hit the parents in the wallet.  The girls need to go to a juvenile center where they can't Facebook until they are 18.

If we get Alzheimer's, how do we know?  Will we care. 

How many of my Blogging friends will stop before I also stop?  If I do, how do I remove the back posts? 

Oh well,