Six Months Wonder

audio --

I was too young
for Korea
although I had a friend
whose older brother died there.

I was too old
for Vietnam
although I had friends
whose younger brothers died there.

I was working as a civilian
For the Department of the Army
and there was pressure to get my
“military obligation” out of the way.

So, I spent from November 1962
through May 1963 in Fort Dix, NJ
and Fort Sill, Oklahoma
as a six months wonder.

I hated it!
It was boring, repetitious and
an awful lot of “chickenshit”.
I wanted to get on with my life!

It was only later that
I got to realize
how much I learned
in just those few months.

The Irish Catholic from NYC
worked with the Protestant
from Alabama who thought
that the Pope was a heretic.

The College English Major
found common ground
with high school dropouts
who thought reading was
a big waste of time.

The local basketball
gym rat and fanatic
found the same teamwork
as part of an artillery crew.

The kid from the lily-white
neighborhood of Inwood
saw his black platoon buddies
suffer bigotry and exclusion
in Lawton, Oklahoma.

The tedium of spit-shining
shoes and cleaning a rifle
with a toothbrush made
me “do things right”.

It was only much later that I found
the answer to my constant question
“what is this ‘good training’ for?”
The answer was “for life”!

« Previous story
Next story »