Sack rat no more

When I enlisted in the Army in 1962 at the age of 19, I didn't shave and typically slept 10 to 14 hours daily. I was assigned to Recruit Company D-1-1 at Fort Ord, Calif., in a single bunk next to one entrance door in the large open barracks.

Recruits settled into a routine in which at around 0430 daily, our platoon sergeant would enter the barracks loudly, "encouraging" the sleeping recruits to "rise and shine." Since I didn't shave and typically showered the night before, I just ignored the sergeant, pulled the blankets over my head and tried to go back to sleep amid the "chaos" of yelling and frantic recruit movement.

I think I got away with my ignorance for a day or so, but was rudely awakened one morning when I literally bounced from my rack to the concrete floor. I was later told that he had picked up the foot end of the rack and violently slammed it back to the floor, at which time I "trampolined" to the concrete. I looked up to see the screaming, red-faced sergeant. I tried to explain why I was special, and quickly found myself collecting my yet-to-be-used safety razor from my footlocker and being led to a sink in the latrine where I lathered up and shaved for the first time.

Most of us quickly learned the most important rule in basic was never volunteer. I had just learned the second most important rule, which was never attract unnecessary attention to yourself.

Jim Howe
Medford, OR

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