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1967-1970

 

 

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At Ft. Monmouth '67 - 84G20 school

To my Army Security Agency Brothers -- OK, so I didn't join the Agency by choice; I was 'levied' in from the Signal Corps. So, I guess that technically doesn't make me one of the top 10%, but what the hey! <G> --- So how DID I arrive among your illustrious ranks?

It started out in early '67 while attending college in California. I'd only paid slight attention to the war, other than not wishing to participate and being concerned for other friends that were on their way to Nam. Then one day a surprise --- DRAFT PHYSICAL NOTICE!

1A or 4F?

So, off we go on a bus to Oakland Army Terminal to be tested. The entire college football team. . . and ME.

I'd always had some difficulty running fast and had been told that as a very young child for a time I'd worn braces to straighten out my legs. Therefore, I reasoned, I'd have a good chance of being determined to be unfit as I was clearly a poor specimen to defend my country. FAT CHANCE! -- Almost the entire football team got 4f for trick knees, shoulders, etc. I was 1A. Cannon fodder!

Now I had to start planning for real. I di-di'd down to the Navy recruiting station; Dad was a sailor and had recommended a tour at sea. Of course they had no openings. OK, off to the Army. I found what I considered a relatively safe military profession, Photo laboratory technician, and signed up for the Signal Corps with a guaranteed school. I traded 3 years of relative safety for the 2 years of what I'd considered the likely sunset of my young life.

Basic Training  

Off to Ft. Bliss, TX. Now for a country boy, from Northern California, the heat in El Paso (did I tell you it was JULY!!) is REAL different.

I also discovered that several (or more) of my 'colleagues' had accepted a judge's 'offer' of military service rather than serve jail time. With some College, this left me in a particularly vulnerable posture. I was appointed platoon leader; acting corporal. Remember, I'm the kid who doesn't run too well and such. --- AND. . . to top that off, I'm made LATRINE QUEEN! That means, in case you've forgotten, that I'm responsible for the cleanliness of the latrine, and have, on a rotating basis, an enthusiastic cadre of troops to clean the latrines each morning.

A quick digression concerns a morning when I'm taking a last quick inspection pass through the latrine nearest the assembly area. I noticed one stall closed and a pair of boots visible under the door. I proclaimed, in a loud authoritarian voice, that when he finished he WOULD position the door open properly with the coat hanger AND roll the toilet paper down one segment! --- A somewhat older voice replied, "Yes SIR, young man!" --- I hurried out and quickly took my place with my platoon. A couple of minutes later the voice of the SFC behind my ear quietly says, "just as you asked, corporal".

The night before graduation the same SFC spoken of a moment ago, asked me if I'd like to sit CQ with him. He pulls out a bottle and we have a couple of drinks. Then he asks me if, as a college man, I'd ever thought of OCS. (Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!!!)

I managed to reason my way through this one with little help. If I went to OCS my guaranteed 'safe' job school was out the window, and if I 'washed out' I'd certainly be an E-1 11B20. Even if I graduated a 'butter bar' they'd probably have me leading a platoon of 11B20's through some elephant grass in 'NAM anyway. (Did I mention that I was 6'2" tall) -- I politely declined and graduated the next day an E-2 with the guarantee of my 'safe' job intact.

Signal School

Having survived Ft. Bliss, and after a well deserved leave, I made my way to Ft. Monmouth, N.J. where I attended the 84G20 Photo Lab Technician school. I'd been an amateur photog at home and enjoyed the course quite a bit.

I made my FIRST real mistake by maxing the course! <sigh> Yes, such courses ARE easy, but gees. The Marine that came in number 2 was beside himself. You KNOW how they are. <G>

Now came the BIG surprise. The SSG that was running the class told me one day to go down to S2. --- S2, what's THAT? "Just GO", he said. You can certainly guess the rest. Triplicates of my entire family history. How DO you spell Gulofsen anyway? (my grandfather on my mother's side) --- Finger prints, etc.

A bit later the SSG drops the OTHER shoe. I'm OUT of the Signal Corps and levied into this funny ASA thing. WHAT??? I've got a CONTRACT, I say. HE says, "Shut up you stupid bastard. This is the best thing that could have happened to you."

Arlington Hall

Now I'm on a bus to Arlington, VA. Snow on the ground and barracks with ALWAYS on steam heat. <G>

But, before I go to work in the photo lab I have to wait for my clearance. In the mean time, I'm assigned to the on-post warehouse. Moving pens, pencils, paper and other stuff here and there. Easy stuff, and the EM club is close by.

(story warning) In the warehouse we had these motorized pallet trucks that, in our boredom, we discovered could be ridden like a scooter if you just reversed the handle. We had races up and down the aisles. Until, that memorable day when my buddy cut a corner too close and punctured a crate of glacial ammonia (99%). WOW, did that warehouse clear out FAST. They had to go in with gas masks to clean it up. Everything happens to me. <sigh>

Well, my TS Crypto clearance finally comes through. Just in time for the Pueblo thing to blow up! <G> Woke us up in the middle of the night; duty stations. Had the VP (Hubert H. Humphrey) out to be briefed. Not too long after, I'm ordered to Vietnam. Off to Viet Nam and the 509th RRFS.

Updated: 4/10/04

 

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