Chapter 2, Lost in the Woods

After the brief stay for the Induction part in Kansas City, We were herded on a bus enroute to our new home at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.  The only memorable part of the entire trip was the fact we stopped at some truck stop in the middle of no where and I ate my first plate of chopped Sewage.  OK, it was called chop suey on the menu but just how authentic could a Chinese meal made by a red neck in Missouri and served at a truck stop be?  Like that Girl Scout song about that damned peanut, "I ate it anyway."   I think most of us went to sleep only to be shouted awake way after midnight when we got to the "Rude" Reception Station.    I struggle to remember a kind word or anything that was said to us for the next 8 weeks that was not shouted or did not include a curse of some kind.

"Get Off my fucking bus and stand on a number."  I guess this wasn't their first rodeo and they had numbers painted on the parking lot.  "Shut up and no talking in the ranks."  We were sent into a barracks building and told to find a bunk.  "Don't get too damned comfortable, first call will be about three hours from now."  Yep, some one came in a little while later and threw one of those big metal trash cans down the middle of the floor and told us to get our asses out on the street and find one of those damned numbers. 

For the next couple of days, we were taken from one place to another by some Corporal or another.  We were given shots, hair cuts, issued uniforms and at the end of a very short period looked like one another and our identity was stripped from us like a leech in the swamp.  Until that time, I had no clue what the Military had in mind for me other than I thought I would be another soldier shortly on his way to Vietnam.  The only thing that was different for some of us was that if we scored above some magic score, we were given another test and None of us were really sure what the new one meant.  I found out later that if our entrance scores were above 114, we were given the OCB (Officer Candidate Battery) to see if we were just lucky on the entrance exam or did have some vocabulary and math skills.  Because I missed out on the Math gene, it had to be the fact that I had my nose stuck in a book most of the time I was not running and gunning at full speed growing up.  

One of the most interesting things during that time was the shots.  We were hustled into a long building where medics lined us up and we were ran down a gauntlet of tables and given all sorts of nasty things.  Plague, the flu shot, and a host of things that I don't remember.  It cracked me up that we had one guy that fainted at the sight of a needle.  He was carried through the line by his buddies and given the injections with him passed out.  They even had one station where they injected one shot with a pneumatic needle.  If you flinched, the injection would cut you like a sharp knife.  I stood still for that one.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that Mom wasn't the best cook on the block but I had never seen anything like the mess halls at the RRS (Rude Reception Station.)  One morning there, I was told to go inside and report to the First Cook.  I was selected to help serve breakfast.  I was put on the spot in the line where toast was made.  I put sliced of fresh white bread on this carrousel machine and toast fell out the other side to allow soldiers to grab a slice or two.  If one got burnt, I swear that a guy came by and took those slices to be made into French Toast.  I never was a French Toast fan and even less so after that.

One thing I would say is that the people in the clothing issue point knew what the heck they were doing.  They could size you up and give you the right uniform almost every time.  They kept the uniform shirts so a bunch of ladies could sew on the name tapes.  By that night we all had a duffle bag full of uniforms even if hardly no one wore those boxer shorts.  Well, some of us did only because we didn't have any thing else to wear. 

One notable thing about this time in my life was the first time we were told to fall out for a police call.  The smokers, the bastards that threw the butts on the ground in the first place were told to stand fast and "smoke 'em if you got 'em."  I think this was some sort of subliminal form to getting us to smoke.  I think for the next 8 weeks I only smoked cigarettes to keep from having to pick up a handful of butts.  For the next 31 years of my Military career I couldn't walk by if there were two butts on the ground without stopping to pick them up.  I know a lot of people thought it was funny that a Full Bird Colonel would do that but That is how my balls rolled.  Back then, the Military did not know about the dangers of smoking and you could buy a carton of cigarettes cheaper than you can buy a pack today. 

Tomorrow I will tell you about A-4-2, "We can Do!" and Tignor's Tigers but that's chapter 3.

Still a Private and not sure if I Love it yet.

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