I enlisted in June 1974, a year after high school. Exams and tests were done in Portland, Ore., and took all day. By the time we were to travel to our basic training posts, my group was lucky(?) to be assigned to Fort Ord, Calif., rather than Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Our bus pulled onto the Company Street and greeting station in the middle of the night, with our hosts wearing campaign hats and practically frothing at the mouth as they ushered us into a large building. We listened to all of the what and what-not to do for several hours. We were then taken to a supply building and issued field jackets, topped off by a late meal.
The next morning, we were awakened by a drill sergeant with a loud, baritone voice again informing us where to go and what to do. This was the regime for at least the first week of the next 184 days of training. Early on we were told Fort Ord consisted of 25,000 acres of sand and scrub. At least my feet and legs felt that there must have been 26,000 acres from the coastal firing ranges and hand grenade pits to crawling through mud with barbed wire overhead with live-firing machine guns. Graduation was an absolute blessing, as was knowing I had accomplished something.