OCS Part 2, Chapter 4.1

As we got nearer and nearer to graduation in July 1967, the question of where would our orders take us.  In the dream sheet I asked for Fort Carson and Fort Riley.   We were all told to report to the Day room at 1630 (4:30) one day and we would get our orders.  It was a lot of fun to hear where the guys would go and what units we would be assigned to.  The Lt went on for about a half an hour and there was only one group left.  He started by saying the next guys had better love sand and the West Coast ( Fort Ord, CA?)   The he got this serious look and said hey these have to be wrong.  It limits the amount of baggage you can take and it says something about for further shipment to RVN.  Fort Irwin California is about 35 miles north of Barstow, California and the north edge of Fort Irwin is the South boundary of Death Valley.  Crap, train a unit up and take it to Vietnam.  Oh well, everyone has to go somewhere.

It didn't stop me in the least.  I had a brand new set of Butter Bars and I was going to pin them on and wear them proudly.  As it turned out, my parents came to my graduation and we left from there to go to my Grandparents farm over near Harrison, AR.  I was glad to have my little brother to travel with me and we had a good time.  That was my last visit to that farm.  By the time I got  home from for Christmas, they had moved over by Rogers, AR and lived on Beaver Lake. 

I went back to Wichita for a week and then lit out for California.  I had never been west of Denver, CO and I drove part of the way on US54 and part of the way on US66.  A Lot of US 66 had been swallowed up by the new I-40 but a lot of it was the old highway near the cities.  There was one stretch of road that was recommended to me to drive the old highway rather than the new one.  It was the trip of my lifetime.  It took 2 really long days of driving and I loved it.

The last evening, I drove in from Needles to Barstow California and it was lit up like a diamond.  I thought how great it was to have that city nearby.  When I woke up the next morning, I saw the real Barstow and it wasn't nearly as pretty.  It was pretty dirty and sand was everywhere.  The only place I saw going out of town was the Del Taco there right by the railroad bridge.  It became my favorite place.

I started driving out north of town towards Fort Irwin and I drove, and drove and drove.  Finally there in the middle of nowhere was a gate guard.  I asked him where was the main post and he said it was about 10 miles further north.  By putting the gate out 10 miles from the main base they got away from paying Isolation pay.  We deserved it as even when we got there, it wasn't much of a base.   It was the desert warfare training center for WWII and used by the National Guard after That.  Most of the buildings were very old and in poor shape. 

The first thing that happened when I reported in to the Camp Headquarters was I noticed that all the buildings had swamp coolers and not the kind we had in the Midwest.  About the time I went in to the bathroom I noticed that I had a nosebleed.  I think the humidity that day was about 5% and the temperature in the morning was already 100. 

I signed in and was sent to the housing office.  I found out that along with about 9 other Lieutenants were given a four bedroom house that our Battalion Commander would move into when he arrived fro his assignment in Washington, DC.  I was the last guy and seriously I was given a bed in the dinning room as the bedrooms were all taken.  Oh well, like I said, it was only temporary and we would be on our way to Vietnam in 5 or 6 months. 

I will end it here and move to Chapter 5 Tomorrow

LT MUD - In the middle of No Where

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