Fort Jackson, 1968

Everyone remembers their basic training, and everyone has a story, but I think this one to be a little bit different and entertaining. Back in March 1968 I started my basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and our company, just like all the rest, had a flag called a "company guide on" that they marched with. It tells the unit's name and number, but our company had something else besides that flag. It also had an "eight ball." It was a black bowling ball mounted on a broom handle. As it was customary for the platoon of the week (the one with the highest weekly scores) to carry that "guide on" flag while we marched, it was also customary in our company for the platoon with the worst weekly scores to carry that eight ball while we marched. The rule with the eight ball was that it had to, at all times, be higher than the tallest man's head. If the drill sgt. would throw it in a ditch, that is where all of that platoon would have to go until they raised it back up again. They had to eat with it, sleep with it, shower with it, and just take it everywhere they went. It was funny, but no one better ever crack a smile about it. My third platoon got lucky and kept the best platoon flag six out of the eight weeks, and never got the eight ball. I sure felt sorry for the fourth platoon who kept that eight ball most of that time. Their drill sgt. didn't like it much either, and made their lives even more miserable. That was life at B-2_1.

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