My basic training experience began in Phoenix. I was the youngest in a family of 10. There were six men and four women, and I was the only brother without military service, so I joined the Arizona National Guard.
I was sent by train to Salinas, Calif., then to Fort Ord, Calif. There was fog for more than a week. Someone mentioned beach rifle ranges. Where's the beach? Then the sun came out and from the second floor of our wooden barracks I saw the Pacific Ocean.
I had brown boots and dyed them black. Guard duty and those boots made sore feet.
Swimming training in a very large swimming pool. Bivouac for a week.
My first experience with a safety razor—I had always used electric—shaving the night before because our duffel bags were loaded for trip back to barracks. New second lieutenant said, "Go back and shave."
I couldn't shave, so I avoided him until the dust and sweat stood out. I got some section something to do extra duty, even though our company commander agreed with me but he had to defend the new second lieutenant. That was the worst experience.
The close combat course where we had to go up a hill attacking a target with machine gun fire over our heads and explosions in large holes. A permanent sign we had to all read first that read: Three soldiers have been killed on this course by machine gun fire, crawling into an explosion hole and by a mountain lion. Hand grenade training was fine and the tear gas was also—until we had to remove our gas masks in the tear gas chamber and looked like crying children when we exited the chamber.
That's my story.