On November 1st, 1974 at 0530 hrs., I was picked up by the army recruiter and driven to Ann Arbor where we met up with some other souls. It was still dark out when we boarded a full bus that took us to Detroit Armed Forces Induction Center. Leaving the bus (it was still dark) the rest is still a blur, but it was very close the to song Alice's Restaurant. After a full day of getting poked and prodded and sworn in, a bus load left for Ft. Knox, KY. There were six of us left over and they drove us in a van to Detroit City Airport and flew us to some airport in KY where we got into another van and ended up at the Ft. Knox welcome center. I never saw daylight on the first of November, 1974. The speech was sort of like the movie Stripes, something about my mama not being here and all, then they marched us over to the barber, clothing issue, barracks, mess hall, and by 10PM that night life as I had known it had changed forever. I spoke to another soldier who had been through BASIC, he told me that the next 6 weeks would most likely be the worst 6 weeks of my life, but when it was over you wouldn't trade the experience for all the money in the world. It was.
After 6 weeks of BASIC training I still hadn't passed my PT (physical training) test and since the holidays were coming, I would have to come back to boot camp and be reassigned to A.I.T.S.T.C.Comm.Gp. (Advanced Individual Training, Special Training Company, Committee Group) A PT platoon that did PT 9 hours a day 6 days a week. Damn near killed me. Since Ft. Knox got quite cold in the winter, every morning just after breakfast and before training I used my outdoors skills to start a coal fire in the pot belly stove in the training room. It seems no one else could do it as fast as I could. This earned me a little peace as I arrived before the others to get the fire going and everyone loved the fire when they got in. After 5 or 6 weeks of this crap I still hadn't passed the army's PT test, as I couldn't do pull-ups. (Still can't do them.) So, the scorer, who had become a friend, fudged the score and I passed. Just like that I was a soldier and could go and kill people. Sad.
AIT (Advanced Individual Training) was in Ft. Gordon, GA. There I was to become a Military Policeman. In BASIC they trained us not to think for ourselves, in MP training they told us if we didn't think we could be killed. I was beginning to have second thoughts about what I had gotten myself into. They billeted us with some Marines that were also going to be MPs and so a few pushie-shovies broke out, but most of the time everyone got along fine. I met and made a bunch of friends since we all had scored high on the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) and we all had similar interests. Like guns, girls, and kickin' butt. :)
We studied the law, learned to fight hand-to-hand, riot control formations, how to fill out paperwork (God there was allot of forms), and shoot. The 12 gauge riot shotgun and the Colt .45 pistol. I remember the first time I saw a .45. I had been in the school for a few weeks, (learning the basic stuff), when they marched us into one of those old wooden barracks that was turned into a classroom. Well, the instructor walked in and took a Colt .45, M1911A1 off the table in the front of the classroom, cleared it and said, "This is the US Army's sidearm of choice, the Colt M1911A1 .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. It holds 7 rounds in the magazine and fires a 230 grain full-metal-jacketed round at 860 feet per second with 320 ft/pounds of muzzle energy and a maximum effective range of 50 meters! Now I know what y'all (this is in Georgia here...) are thinking, a .357 Magnum is much more powerful, BUT try this with your wheel gun!!" And he took the pistol and grabbed it by the barrel end and with a side arm throw, slung that damn pistol down the center of the classroom where it smashed against the far wall knocking loose another little piece of wood from amongst dozens of similar hits. At that moment I fell in love with that pistol. He then causally walked to the back of the room, picked it up and said, "Try THAT with your wheel gun."
I happened to become friends with a guy who after AIT was going to become a Warrant Officer. He was already a civilian police officer. Anyway, I studied military law and MP procedures with him every night while the other guys went to town (Augusta, GA) and got drunk. This dedication to my studies allowed me to graduate with 98.2% GPA!! I got promoted to PFC (Private First Class) too. So, on the last day I finally went to town to celebrate. While I was in the bar on Broad Street in downtown Augusta, GA sipping my Tom Collins, a small pair of bare feet stopped in front of my drink on the bar, then the toes turned toward me. I was smashed, but started to scan up the legs to see what they were attached to. There was a cute little girl standing up on the bar in front of me wearing only a pair of skimpy panties. She smiled at me and I smiled back, lowered my head back to my drink. The feet turned and walked on down the bar. I took the bus back to the post. Nobody believed my story. Do you blame them? :)
This page was last updated 07/09/06