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

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