Basic training, Fort Jackson, S.C., 1966

I was drafted and landed in Fort Jackson, S.C., in May 1966. A bit scary for a 19-year-old (and hot). We were all hustled into the mess hall for our first meal. We were served something I never saw before, and asked the guy sitting next to me what it was. He said it was SOS (I guess we all know what that stands for). Turns out it was chipped beef on toast in some grey gravy. So I told the guy that I didn't like the way it looked and I wasn't going to eat it. Next thing I know, a drill sergeant (a Sergeant Smith from Hempstead LI) stuck his head between the two of us and said, "Boy, you're going to eat that and you're going to eat another one." (Gulp!) Since I was hungry, I ate it (didn't have much of a choice) and it wasn't too bad after all. Thank you, Sgt. Smith. I'll never forget you.

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