Military Service - Basic Training
“What did you do during the war, daddy?”
There comes a time in a man’s life when he feels he must break away and start out on his own. Many times this is when he decides how he will answer one question posed by his future offspring when at any time one of his children just might ask, “What did you do during the war, daddy?”
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‘Rock and a Hard Place'
After graduation from high school in 1963 and attending a few years of college I found myself distraught about my future. With the Viet Nam War building in intensity and the possibility of the ‘draft’ hanging heavy over my head I found myself somewhat between the proverbial ‘Rock and a Hard Place’. No one in my family had ever been drafted and I was certainly not going to be the first. Friends at college were also fearful realizing that good grades and a secure job afterwards was the only thing keeping them from being snapped up and rushed off to a boot camp somewhere with a commitment of at least the next three years of their lives off in a jungle halfway around the world without any guarantee of ever returning home alive or in one piece.
promised the world...
It was early 1966. I didn’t return to college after the winter break. My chemistry grades had proven that I might as well choose some other field of study. A degree in medicine was out of the question now. I might as well go into teaching or public safety or something less cumbersome; I needed a break, my mind was cloudy. In April of that year I decided to join the US Air Force so I signed up. I had stayed at home with mom for almost seven years after dad died, I needed to start my own life I thought. Yes, it was difficult especially during basic. Being the oldest recruit was like being a big brother to all the other guys many of them just fresh out of high school for no more than a year or two at best. Since I had a few years of college with ROTC behind me was supposed to insure an automatic first stripe on my sleeve, but the recruiter failed to mention that on my paperwork. I wasn’t the only recruit that had been promised the world just to be laughed at and reminded that our recruiter was not there to confer with.
Rainbow, Rainbow don’t feel blue...
At Lackland AFB near San Antonio TX we recruits even had a song we would count cadence to as we marched – “Rainbow, Rainbow don’t feel blue, our recruiter screwed us too…” We were called ‘rainbows’ because of our civilian clothes. As we all got off the bus that first day I’m sure the differences in our clothes matched the many colors of a rainbow so all the others that had been there long enough to be issued their fatigues just laughed letting us all know they had less time left in basic training then we did. We were greenhorns. The drill instructor seemed to take pride in shouting at each of us, calling us all kinds of names sometimes getting right in our faces as we tried to march in time. We first got our haircuts (all one style – GI). Some guys said they didn’t want their hair cut, but we ALL got one anyway, I don’t think it took a minute for each one of us to be sheared like a sheep in the springtime. Then we were issued our uniforms and then marched back to the dorms (barracks) to shower and change for the first time. I’m sure we were a motley looking crew as we stood in line at the mess hall later that day, but we all felt somewhat better as we noticed a new busload of recruits unloading right across the street. As the bus pulled away someone in our group let out, “look at all the pretty little rainbows…”
© 2011 SamSonS