I arrived at Fort Jackson, S.C. at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 1983. As we got off the bus, I saw big block letters on the side of a building which said, “Welcome to the United States Army.” The first thing that came to mind was “Oh, my God! What have I done?!”
We started our in-processing the next day – haircuts, shots, uniforms, etc. Saturday we took our new full duffle bags and put them on buses for our ride to Fort Benning, Ga. When we got there, a drill sergeant came on and said, “Grab a duffle bag and throw it in a pile.” While we were standing in formation, a drill sergeant would grab one and yell out the name. The first time I thought I heard my name called, but it didn’t sink in. Dick had left the building, I guess. The next time was much louder, but I still wasn’t sure. I was scared to death. The third time I heard the sergeant scream at the top of his lungs “LOY, RICHARD C!!!”
I ran as fast as I could to retrieve my bag. When I got close, he threw it as hard as he could. It almost knocked me backwards. Then he ran over to me, got right in my face, and screamed words I will never forget: “DROP, DAMMIT!! Welcome to Fort Benning, DICK!”
After graduation ceremonies, we went to receive our last pay. They split us up, A-L and M-Z. Of course, my name “Loy” was the last person paid in the first group. When I came out the door, my assistant drill sergeant was waiting for me. The whole company was in the front leaning rest position. He then screamed “Front leaning rest, Private!!”
The moral to this story is “first one dropped, last one dropped.”
And who can forget the “cattle cars” that took us from range to range?