During 1966, the beginning of the large buildup of forces for the Vietnam War, I quit college to join the Army. My father, a WW2 veteran, suggested I volunteer for the draft. His argument was that if I really didn’t like the Army I would be out in two instead of three years, and don’t volunteer for anything. I subsequently went on to serve in the active, reserve and National Guard until 2008 and retired a MSG in the Special Forces. So much for listening to your father!
Fellow draftees and myself could not be accommodated at normal East Coast basic training sites and were sent from Pittsburgh to Fort Lewis, Wash.
The worst part of basic was firing M-14s and 45s without any ear protection; we would stick cigarette filters into our ears to muffle the noise. Not a very effective method, and my ears would ring for a day, especially after pistol firing. I am plagued with tinnitus to this day.
It rained or was cloudy every day and weeks after starting basic, one morning it was unusually clear at sunrise and there before us was the magnificently beautiful vista of Mt. Rainier. We were all agog as Rainier was huge and impressive, bathed in sunlight right in our backyard all along.
The funniest part: many years later, after a night rifle range we were in the company area and preparing for inspection arms, a soldier two down from me discharged his “empty“ rifle and sent a round across our line of men. The senior drill sergeant took the four of us aside into a near barracks and told us the story was that he had given a blank round to the offending soldier to teach us the importance of checking our weapon ourselves. The offending soldier told the sergeant in a shaky voice that he had urinated his trousers. The old grizzled sarge said, “no problem; the first time I was under fire I crapped in mine!”