Way back in November, 1960 I decided to leave home and join the Air Force. I will never forget that day. I walked the three miles to the Air Force Recruiting Station…only to find that they had moved the recruiting station to Downtown Detroit to make room for an expressway.
Having no bus fare and no ambition to walk another three miles, I decided to look for an Army Recruiting Station in the area. I was in luck, there was one just a couple blocks from where the expressway was being built. So, I walked right in and asked, “You guys wouldn’t happen to know any programs that the Air Force has, would you?”
One of the recruiters said, “You wouldn’t go into Kroger’s and ask for the price of coffee in A&P would you?”
“OK,” I said. “What can the Army do for me?”
The next thing I knew, I was taking the ASVAB test and getting scheduled for my physical and heading for Fort Knox, Ky on November 20, 1960.
The main reason I joined the Army was to get away from my father, whom I thought was the meanest person on the face of the earth…then I arrived at Fort Knox.
When that drill sergeant stepped on the bus and screamed, “You have 30 seconds to get off of my bus and 20 of those are gone! So, grab a bag and move out!
Then he got up in my face and hollered, “What are you doing soldier?”
“Looking for my bag sergeant.” I said meekly.
“I didn’t say your bag idiot!” He responded. “I said grab a bag! Now get moving.”
On his worse day, my father never talked to me like that. But, I would get used to it.
The next time I screwed up was over my combat boots. The Army was switching from brown boots to black boots in 1960 and I was one of the luck ones that got issued brown boots. Wouldn’t you know it? I fell out into the first of many formations and heard this roar.
“Send that meat head up here with those brown boots on!”
I doubled timed up to the platoon sergeant who made such a ruckus over my brown boots.
Again, I have a face in mine screaming, “Did your mother send you down here from the Kremlin to screw up my Army soldier?”
“No sergeant.” I said meekly again.
His face was still in mine when he said, “When this formation breaks up, you get back in the barracks and die those boots black. Do I make myself clear soldier?”
The problem was, the formation did not break up. They marched us to class.
When we returned, I immediately retreated to the barracks and started dieing my boots black. I was being very careful so that I was doing a professional looking job when,,,WHAM!!!
I thought the barracks blew up when I heard that familiar roar. “Where is that meat head with the brown boots?”
“In here sergeant,” I responded.
“Soldier, you have just 15 minutes to get those boots died and over to my orderly room.”
Then I took a rag and saturated it with die and swabbed it all over my boots. Not professional but, they were black.