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

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