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)


No comments:

Post a Comment