Joel Hornaman


Applying oneself

I was drafted into the Army in 1969 under Nixon. My basic training was at Fort Lewis, Wash., followed by infantry training there as well. While in Basic, we were required to take a battery of written tests in some old WWII pavilions. I had decided to apply myself to score the best I could, hoping that it might be helpful during my service. That, however, was not the prevailing attitude, since most felt we were all destined for Vietnam anyway.
After training, I received my orders for Vietnam and processed in at Bien Hoa, then sent north to Camp Eagle near Phu Bai. My records and test scores had preceded me there.
Apparently, there was an opening for a security clerk in the headquarters of the 39th Transportation Battalion which I must have qualified for. The captain I was assigned to immediately began to call me “Super B.” It wasn’t until later that I learned “Super B” was for “Super Brain.” Evidently, applying myself in testing resulted in some good scores!
I am definitely not a super brain, but I believe to this day, at 70 years old, that my test efforts may have very well saved my life. I could just as well have been assigned to an infantry unit in the bush. Although we took rocket and mortar attacks, and I occasionally rode “shotgun” in truck convoys, my duty was relatively safe. I’ve always been grateful and proud of my service.
Every March 25, my separation date, I display the American flag to remember my survival and the 58,000 who served in Vietnam and did not.

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