My Vivid Memory of Enlisting in the Army

My brother and I talked about it when we were 14 or 15, working here and there because we were orphans living in different places with brothers or sisters.

He disappeared and I received a penny postcard from Norfolk, VA.

He had joined the Navy and retired after 20 years. Twenty days after receiving his postcard, I joined the Army. My oldest sister had to sign for me. The Recruiter and I went to El Paso to enlist, but I didn’t pass my exam. Everything was fine health-wise except weight. I was underweight by nine pounds. I had to weigh 106. I was a 97 pounder at seventeen.

When I got back that evening from El Paso, I was upset at my sister, and I asked her… “Did you pray that I didn’t make it??” She just looked at me and didn’t answer. So I didn’t know if she did or not.

Next week the recruited came back and asked me if I still wanted to enlist? I said, “Yes.” He said that he could get me in, but not to say anything.

So here we go again to El Paso, Texas. He bought me eleven pounds of bananas, which I ate in two or three minutes, walked out of the latrine, I got weighed at 106 pounds, went back to the latrine and bananas went down the commode!! So here I go to Fr. Ord, CA.

At basic, there was this corporal with prior service who thought he was better than the recruits, so we nailed one of his low quarter shoes to the floor. You should have seen him trying to put his shoes on for inspection. Was he mad, but never found out who did it.

And about five weeks later, four or five recruits didn’t like another recruit, because he would get us in trouble every day; bunk, shoes, area inspection, etc. He was overweight by at least 200 pounds so they threw him out the first floor window.

Later in Ft. Gordon, GA at A.I.T., I met him again. I was going to signal school and he was going to Military Police. He was fit and trim, lost his weight problem. End of story.

In 1977 I retired after twenty-two years of service, and am still on this earth today.

A dedicated soldier,
SFC Pena, G.

« Previous story
Next story »