One year at HubPages: Calls for a Hub!
CELEBRATE my 1st anniversary
Your extended index finger.
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The email came the other day. It was another message from the Hub editors. It explained that I just reached my first year anniversary with HubPages. The email mentioned that on a first anniversary it’s tradition to give a paper gift – perhaps I could treat myself to a magazine or a book.
It got me thinking that I should celebrate by writing a special first anniversary Hub. But on what subject? It has to connect with anniversaries or paper or something like that. I know I could do a Hub on Paper. Nah. Stuff4Kids has already written a great one on that subject.
Then, how about something connected to paper. Printers? Nah. Doodling? That does have promise, but is it stretching things a bit to connect a first anniversary to doodling?
Quotes about "One" & "Life"
My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.
Life is something that everyone should try at least once.
–Henry J. Tillman
So what should I do? What subject should I write about for this anniversary Hub? I free associated (which you can see at the top of this story). Suddenly a thought jumped in my head.
I remember one lone word standing at attention on the top of the letter from the Defense Department. “Greetings,” it declared. As I continued reading it informed me that I had to report to Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn just before Christmas of 1967. I was being inducted (drafted) into the U.S. Army.
There were many times I was all alone in the Army. In my unit I was the only draftsman (MOS: 81A for you military types).
Spending a day at the rifle range
During Boot Camp I pulled duty as a solitary “fireman.” That meant during the ungodly hour of 2 to 3 am, 3 to 4 am or 4 to 5 am I was the only guy awake in my platoon. During this one hour shift it was my responsibility to insure the fire in the building’s 60-year old boiler didn’t go out.
It may seem like a simple job. Periodically, you’d check the boiler, open its door and shovel in some coal, if it needed it. In order to accomplish the fireman’s tasks you must follow Directive #1: STAY AWAKE.
You know how difficult that is? You’ve spent the day marching to the rifle range and doing some maddening physical task that left you bone tired. It’s the middle of the night. The barracks are quiet; everyone is asleep. You can't put the lights on. You have no one to talk to. No radio. No TV. NO INTERNET! Why didn’t you just go to sleep?
Have you ever woken up in a cold barracks? One where the big air ducts where blowing cold rather than nice, warm air? You see, even if the fire goes out that heavy-duty air blower still functions, only instead of circulating coal-heated air it’s blasting frigid air – pumping it into a room full of guys huddled under olive drab blankets. Soon the silence is broken by one soldier, then two and another awaking and shaking.
It doesn’t take long in these conditions for guys to start grumbling about the lack of heat and soon the loud-mouth in the bunch starts grouching, “Who was the fireman who fell asleep?”
You don’t want everyone turning to you when they find out you were the one who fell asleep and didn’t wake up the fireman pulling the next shift after you. No! You don’t!
And you don’t want to be the one behind the wheel of an Army truck that a bunch of Korean farmers are pointing at and screaming that you drove into their ancient family burial grounds.
That incident wasn’t very pleasant. It happened when I was stationed in South Korean. Although this was during peacetime the Army was always alert. To stay ready they played war games.
I worked with top secret maps in Korea. Sometimes I worked in an office on base and occasionally I would pack my T-square, triangles and ink pens into the map room in the back of my army truck, known as a deuce and a half. (See photo).
This was pre-computer. The technology we relied on to keep our secrets safe was clear acetate. You know that stiff plastic stuff. I secured the clear overlay onto a large cardboard map showing our current position. Then I would draw the location of our various units on the acetate using black ink. The colonels would then use the map in their war games and they’d indicate troop movements on the acetate using grease pencils. When they were done I preserved whatever marks they made in ink on another sheet of acetate.
When we were all done for the night I would roll up all the top secret acetates and lock them in a safe welded onto the bed of the truck. That was our high tech security.
A look at modern day S. Korea
So, on a rainy summer afternoon I was driving my truck through Where-R-Wee, South Korea. Our company (about 150 men) and numerous other companies had been camping out for several days on bivouac, playing war games.
The Korean peninsula’s monsoon season hits every summer. When it strikes Korea is inundated with heavy rain, thunder storms and high winds. The rainy weather can continue for weeks during the monsoon season.
Forty five years ago, the weatherman was unable to pinpoint exactly when the monsoon season would begin, but based on experience the Army knew once it started raining the precipitation would go on for days, even weeks.
Headquarters was watching the weather and suddenly orders came down: Break camp immediately and head back to base. The Army brass didn’t want the troops to get stuck in the mud or have their route blocked by a washed out road. We hurriedly packed up in the rain and positioned our vehicles one behind the other, ready for the drive back down the mountain along a narrow dirt road.
The convoy started out with several jeeps, followed by a long line of trucks. Mine was the first truck in the convoy. Each truck had a passenger, whose job during this white-knuckle ride was to watch his side of the road and warn the driver when the vehicle got too close to the edge of the road.
My passenger didn’t do his job.
Quotations about "Alone"
One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, nothing can beat teamwork.
Life could be wonderful if people would leave you alone.
The strongest man in the world is the man who stands alone.
–Thomas H. Huxley
Since I was the first truck I didn’t have another set of truck tracks to follow. As strong gusts of wind and torrents of rain assaulted us, I had a heck of a time maneuvering along the mud-filled roadway. At one point I was concerned about getting too close to the edge of the mountain on the left side and I edged further to the right. Too far right!
I ran off the road and the 2½ ton truck immediately got stuck in the saturated soil. It sunk in the mud, one side lower than the other. It looked like an injured hippopotamus stuck in the muck.
The convoy behind me came to an abrupt stop. Voices shouted instructions. A gigantic tow truck at the rear of the convoy was ordered to move forward. The tow truck driver positioned his vehicle near mine, his wheels slinging mud in all directions as he did. He jumped out of his truck and placed large blocks of wood under my tires and hooked up chains between the two trucks.
If this delay wasn’t embarrassing enough, some angry Korean villagers suddenly appeared and started yelling. Eventually we determined they were complaining that our trucks were damaging their ancient cemetery. Of all the places to get stuck I had to find this site!
I felt awful that I was responsible for the desecration of an old burial grounds. This crappy feeling and the image of those angry Koreans haunted me throughout the day and several days afterwards.
But that’s not the way I feel today. I’m so glad I found HubPages a year ago. It's a blessing being part of this community of talented and friendly writers.
Thanks everyone and here’s mud in your eye. –TDowling
© 2014 Thomas Dowling