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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

KS - graduation

The time was early fall of 1959 and the place was Fort Ord, California. The terrain on which we trained in Army basic was mostly covered with sand and “ice plants” – a succulent growth with thick, pulpy leaves. This grew in abundance because of the sandy ground, in addition to a general lack of rain. It is my belief that the Army only has training posts on land that is absolutely good for nothing else except to make the trainees miserable. The temperature was very comfortable during the daylight hours but got very chilly as soon as the sun went down. On one of our little “camp-outs” I remember putting on every item of clothing I had with me and still shivered all night.

Snippets of memory from our army instructions speak to me of the gas mask training and going through the famous “gas chamber”. Also of the final obstacle course, which happened at night with live ammunition being shot over our heads. Sand got into everything and by the time I finished crawling the course, my knees were raw meat from the sandpaper effect of the sand in my pant legs.

Another memory file resident is a booklet listing all the names of those graduating from basic training in Co. A, 7th Battle Group, 3rd Brigade. Our final ceremony of basic training was attended by many family members of other recruits, but any of my kin were at least 1000 miles away and most of them were 3000 miles East of there.

There were over 200 trainees with about 28 Cadre, but my name and a few others were somehow left out of the crudely mimeographed material that told who graduated. The oversight didn’t bother me very much, I was just glad to have all that behind me and to move on the next phase of aggravation. By then most of us considered the Army just a multi-million dollar harassment program.

The next items I still have are airline ticket stubs dated October 4, 1959 – the first airplane flight of my life – and they showed my route as going from Monterey to LAX, on to Atlanta and then Augusta and home for a short leave. The flight across the country was on a four-engine prop-job; jets were not in the main picture then. Then from Atlanta to Augusta we flew on a DC-3, the same kind of plane they had used during WWII – it was a little rough but we got there.

Why was I not feeling as close to God as I had, and why did it not seem to matter as much as it should have?

TBC - ec

9 Comments:

Blogger Anvilcloud said...

The natives took over a piece of land that had been temporarily expropriated by the government in WW2. Around 1995, they got tired of waiting. It was on Lake Huron and decent property.

3/14/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger thebeloved said...

I sometimes don't understand how people go into the military--wow, I don't know if I could take all that.

3/14/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

I joined tha Air Force about a year after you joined the Army. It was much the same experience except a little easier (Air Force, you know). I don't think anyone who has experienced the "gas chamber" will ever forget it. and it wasn't really that bad.

3/14/2006 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

I'm sure you look back on this with some amusement, glad that you persevered through it all. Young people training today could use the sand routine, from what I'm hearing about Iraq.

3/14/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

AC - Thanks for stopping by the patch - the blueberries are almost in full bloom.

thebeloved - They didn't give us a choice back then - it was enlist or be drafted.

TMG - The worst part of the gas chamber was the dread created by the tall tales heard before hand.

bonita - Looking back at this was a lot more fun than going through it in real time. ec

3/14/2006 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Ah! I remember those gas chambers—not very fondly. I can sometimes still imagine the smell and sting of the CS gas. I also remember when I was stationed in Germany and some prankster threw a CS-grenade into the officers’ club when we were having a battalion dinner. At least my ex-wife and the other officers’ wives learned what tear gas was like.

3/14/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

SSN - That sounded like a very exciting night indeed. :) ec

3/14/2006 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

The Australian Army do it a bit differently, here in Queensland they have bases at 3 really beautiful seaside areas and i "Jungle Training" area in a beautiful rainforrest area.
We the general public are banned from these beauty spots, which seems a bit unfair as the Army only use tiny segments of them.oakdeg

3/15/2006 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger mreddie said...

In the U.S. the land of armed services bases tend to be either sandy or swamps - weird. ec

3/15/2006 04:32:00 PM  

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