Just keep on marching

In February 1969 I was taking basic training in Ft. Polk, La. and one day, after coming back from the rifle range, we were marched over to the medical clinic for more shots. Many of you will remember how they would line us up and march us through while medical aides with needle guns took their turns giving us a whole series of shots. Some men flinched and got cut, some passed out, but for most of us it just another thing the Army had us do.
After it was over I, as a squad leader, and a half dozen other trainees were assigned to clean up and put everything away under the direction of one of the aides.
My instructions were to march my team back to the company area when finished. With willing hands, and thoughts of supper pushing us, the clean-up did not take long and we were soon marching back to the company area. As we approached I could see our fellow recruits doing low crawls under the five WWII barracks buildings which were raised about a foot off the ground by posts. I had no idea what was going on, but I was real sure I wanted no part of it so I kept sounding cadence and we marched right on past. The guys must have agreed with me as no one faltered and no one said a word.
We marched ten or twelve blocks took a right for a block and another right and marched back to find the guys were still low crawling. Once again we marched right on past. The next time we came by everyone was inside so we marched up to our barracks and I dismissed everyone. We went inside to find our mates dealing with sand which was not only on the floor but also in their underclothes, personal crevices and everywhere else. They were hustling to get cleaned up for chow.
It turned out that after the company had returned from the rifle range and turned in our weapons the supply clerk had reported a bayonet missing while we were on our way to the clinic. The low crawling was a shakedown to get the guilty party to admit that they had it. Our Captain, who was someone we were all impressed with, was the kind of person who believed in checking all his bases so while the men were low crawling he had someone rechecking the bayonet storage wall. It turned out that two bayonets were hanging on one hook thus leaving an empty hook.
The moral of the story. If you act like you are doing something no one will bother you. At the time we were used to long hikes and marching a couple of miles on a nice smooth paved street was a whole lot easier then low crawling under army barracks. Oh yeah, no one ever asked why the clean up took so long.

Jack Klaus, Manchester, IA

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