Basic training remembered

I was drafted and reported to my draft board on May 13, 1971. We took a 1-1/2 hour train ride to the induction center in Chicago and there were approximately 20 of us making the trip. Some of the guys brought some weed and booze with them and about 2/3 of them were wasted by the time we arrived in Chicago. The final physical was a joke and our group along with another group assembled in a room and were told to wait. A E7 walked into the room and congratulated us that we were about to join the United States Army, but before we took the oath we were to remove all contraband from our possession. I couldn’t believe the stuff being put into the fiber drums. Dope, guns, knives, booze and God knows what else. We took our oath and they nicely put us to work, and I got to assemble draft letters to other poor saps. We got a marvelous meal and a bus ride to the airport. The sad thing is we had several hours before our flight to Washington state. We had two armed MPs as escorts and we could not leave the area, and if you needed to use the facilities they escorted you. I felt like a prisoner! Reception was 4 days of getting screamed at, shots, haircut, testing and getting clothing issued. First day of basic I was so lucky because I got to pull a 14-hour KP duty and that was so much fun. I was in relatively good physical shape so most of PT and never ever walking anywhere didn’t bother me too much. Our DI was a real piece of work but he was doing his job well because we all hated him. At the range I was in my element as my dad taught me gun safety and how to shoot at a very young age. We had a soldier who lost his deferment when he dropped out of seminary to go back home to help take care of his mother. We called him “Rev” because he was going to be a minister. This guy had never touched a gun in his life, and he struggled at the range and was threatened with being recycled. Our platoon agreed that we would help him out by popping a few of his pop-up targets. He didn’t get recycled. I lost quite a bit of weight while at Fort Lewis mainly because we didn’t have time to eat our meals. When the DI would get upset with us he’d run us up and down what was named “Crybaby Hill” and it was very tough on us. Lack of sleep was the norm and trying to stay awake was very difficult at times. Did I mention that it rains a lot in the great Northwest? We didn’t need to take showers. After BCT I went off to El Paso, Texas, to Fort Bliss for my 16P20 training.

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