The Flying Twenty

Army One

It was June, school was out for the summer, and I was looking for a job. I had often thought of signing up for the Air Force but they had no openings.

I took the Army placement test and scored quite high. The Army recruiter suggested that I get all the paper work completed and join the 1st of August in order to get a job in a special branch.

I had been drawn to the Army because of their advertisements for jobs in Missile Electronics but we agreed that this would be a much better.

Mom and Dad had to sign for me since I was only seventeen. A few days later, at six o’clock in the morning I was waiting at the bus station, paperwork in hand, for a ride to Louisville.

The bus had come through Ashland and Lexington and was loaded with new recruits. We pulled up at the Induction Center about seven o’clock. (I had skipped breakfast and was getting hungry.)

The bus driver opened the door and Corporal Stout jumped on the bus. “Listen up! You guys will get off the bus and line up in, single file, on the sidewalk. There will be no talking and no smoking.”

The Center was a single story, long, narrow, wooden building of vintage WWII. One by one we entered into a long hallway with a number of stations, each manned by a medic. We were checked from one end to the other. Each medic made notations on our paperwork.

Shortly, most of us were back at the bus. Corporal Stout told us “Smoke ‘em, if we got ‘em.“ (I lit up. Smoking takes away hunger pangs.) The bus door opened and the driver said, “Next stop, Fort Knox.

“You guys have a good day. Good luck to you.” The Corporal had taken on a very friendly tone. We loaded up and had a nice ride to Fort Knox. Tanks were everywhere. (I guess that’s why they call it The Armour Center.) We passed sign after sign after sign: Headquarters, Regiment, Battalion, Company, Platoon, and PX. The bus pulled up into a parking area near a group of wooden, two story barracks.

Corporal Smith took our paperwork as we got off the bus. “Listen up. You will line up singe file and follow me. You will get a Mess Pass, bedding and a barracks assignment. You will be here for the next week for processing. Anything of value that you have should be secured or kept on your person. We eat at seven, twelve and five.”

I received two sheets, two blankets a Mess Pass and was assigned to barracks number 2. I chose a bunk near the front on the first floor.

I lay out and was fast asleep in seconds. I woke up about fifteen minutes later. It took me a few moments to realize where I was. “What am I doing here,” I thought? Some of the guys down the aisle were discussing our situation.

We would be assigned to a training company next week. As for now, we will get our uniforms and a twenty dollar bill (The Flying Twenty) for personal essentials.

My first purchase, a lock for my footlocker.

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