On March 12th at 1pm I was on the bus headed for Oklahoma City. I arrived at OKC around 5pm, I forget the name of the hotel that they had us in, it was across the street from the Holiday Inn. The Armed Forces Indoctrination Center rented the 5th and 6th floors. They gave me a voucher for supper at the restaurant across the street. When I got to my room my roommate was there, we meant with a couple of other guys and decided to see what kind of trouble we could get into. We walked around for a while and ended up in a bar. We told the bar tender that we were there to go into the service the next day. He said anyone old enough to join the Army and fight for his country was old enough to drink in his bar. We didn't leave till about midnight, everybody was buying us rounds, we didn't pay for anything. When we got back to the hotel there were more guys there, we were running the halls, Indian wrestling, and just having a good olé time. At about 2am the hotel called the MP's to come put us to bed. At 6am they were beating on our door telling us we had 15 minutes to be down in front of the hotel to get the bus. We were all out side waiting, making jokes and singing and just having a great olé time, most of us were still kind of tipsy. People in the Holiday Inn were shouting out their windows for us to shut up. An hour later the bus showed up, we could have had another hour of sleep. When we got to the indoctrination center they served us a continental breakfast, after they drew our blood of course.
First was the physical exam, which didn't take long at all, they checked all your holes. The last one, the butt check, we were all lined up in a circle with the doctor in the middle with a flashlight. We all had to turn around, drop our drawers, bend over, and spread our cheeks, I don't know what he was looking for, but what ever it was he didn't find it. After that was more testing, now with paper and pen, there were five different tests, they were all multiple choice. We had lunch in between. The rest of the day we were busy filling out forms, the same forms that we filled out at the recruiters office. Then you got a chance to talk to the “Career Counselor”. You were suppose to be able to tell him what you wanted to do while in the Army, but really it was he telling you what you were going to be doing in the Army. When my turn came up I told him that I wanted to be a carpenter. That I always did well with that in school, I liked making things with my hands. He told me that the army didn't have carpenters any more, that was all taken care of by civilians now. But with my test results I would be a great generator mechanic, I scored really well on recognizing tools. I said, “What's there to recognize, you showed a wrench, a pair of pliers, a flat head and a phi-lip’s head screw driver and a hammer?” I never had any interest in mechanics, I knew where the oil went and where the gas went, other then that I could look at the engine and shake my head all day. But then he said the magic words, “And you do some work with wood.” Now remember the emphasis is on the word “some”. I told him to go ahead and sign me up then, I was kind of naïve about how things worked, I didn't think he would lie to me, I mean, why would he lie? (I found out later that he had a quota to meet.)
By four o'clock we were sworn in, to protect the Constitution of The United States against any foreign or domestic enemies. So help me god. I wonder if they say that anymore? We flew in a small twin-engine 20 passenger plane, then a chartered bus ride for two hours. We were taken to our barracks at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, that would be home for a few days. We later called it Fort lost in the woods, Misery. The first week is spent getting you ready for the Army. The Sargent woke us up by beating on the trash can with a stick, this was 5am, we had 30 minutes to wash up, shave and be out in front of the barracks. We had thirty minutes to eat. Then we got our heads shaved, the bold head was nothing new to me because of my dad being in the service, I was never allowed to grow my hair. Then we had to fill out more forms, yes you guessed it, these were the same forms that we filled out at both the recruiters and the IC, talk about killing trees. After lunch we were lined up and taken through the warehouse to get our uniforms. They provided everything from underwear, tees and socks, to work clothes, dress uniform, pair of dress shoes, two pair of boots, duffel bag (which they gave us last), field jacket, rain coat. The rest of the day was spent getting our uniforms ready, and packing up what ever we brought with us to send home to mom with a thank you letter for putting up with us all these years. Day two was spent learning how to march, the start of getting shots. Every week we went through the shot line, there would be two medics, one on each side of the door and as you walk by they would give you the shots with these guns. Sometimes if you were moving too fast the gun would take a chunk of meat out of your arm, your doing half quick march the whole time. The next seven weeks you were nothing but Army, you talked Army, you read Army, you even dreamed Army. Everything you touched was OD green, OD stands for “olive drab”. Day four we were issued our field gear, back pack, again given to us at the end of the line, shovel, canteen, metal dish and cutlery, tent, field jacket, etc. etc. When we got everything into the back pack it weighed in at 40 pounds, you carried this everyday. The tent was funny because there were two different kinds. The old ones had buttons, where the newer ones had snaps, you always had to make sure you were buddied up with a person that had the same as you.
After our Drill Sargent got us settled into our new barracks, that would be home for the next seven weeks. “If you were lucky enough to be able call yourself Soldier”, when he got done with you. Do you remember the scene from Stripes? The one where they are all in a circle and each one took turns talking about themselves. Well, that's what our Drill Sargent did after we got all settled down. We had to at least say who we were, where you were from, and what you were going to do in the Army. I got very pissed when I found out that there were 3 guys going to carpenters school. I felt like I had been fucked and didn't even get a kiss. I think that is when my attitude started going down hill.