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Monday, January 28, 2013

I Digress, again

In my last post I made a mistake.  The tornado was on May 20, 1957, not 1947 on May 5, both of which were my birthday of course.  There is a small epilogue however.

I eventually got over air sickness and have spent many hours in small air crafts while in the army and living in Alaska.  My fear of storms was overcome and even resulted in my working for the state version of what is now FEMA where I encountered severe weather all the time.  The air sickness was over come sort of naturally but my fear of storms took on a mystical quality.

It seems that after the tornado on May 5 of '57 the summer was full of storms and storm warnings.  We did not have a basement so every time a warning would come up we would go to the neighbor's house and either sit in the basement or their front room ready to head for the basement if things got sticky, so to speak.   I was always petrified during the warnings or even when a bunch of clouds gathered.  So like most people when they get scared I would pray or even resort to reading the bible. 

One evening I was prone on the floor reading some passage of the bible, don't remember which one, full of fear and anxiety.  A breeze came in the front door and caught the edge of the page I was reading and blew across the bible and my eyes fell on a passage that went something like this, "you shall not be afraid because you do not know my ways." 

I have tried several times to find that passage or something like it but have failed every time.  However I was never afraid of a cloud, storm, or tornado from then on.  I wish all my fears could be handled in the same way.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I digress

I was in a quandary on what to do with a bunch of Pilot Log books my dad had kept for many years.  They were almost a complete set of logs dating from 1944 when he began flying.  I hated to toss them out but was tired of moving them from place to place.  So while backing stuff to take to Tucson I thought that perhaps I could donate them to some organization like I did his letters from Korea (they rest with the Missouri Historical Society right now.)  I first tried the TWA Museum at the old down town airport, they were not interested, then to the Airline Museum across the field.  They were not interested either.  On a fluke I went to one of remaining pilot training centers close by and asked if anyone there would be interested in having them for nostalgia or historical purposes.  To make a long story short the owner of the flight training and charter service remembered Dad and said that he (dad) had given him his Check rides and that he was sure that dad had written his name in the logs.  He as them now.  When I got back to my house I noticed that a log book had fallen out of the box and as I was thumbing through it noticed a entry dated July 28, 1957.  I read "snapper's first flight."  I decided to hold on to that book.  All I remember of the flight was that we followed the path of the Ruskin Heights Tornado rebuilding project (a tornado ripped through Ruskin Heights on May 20, 1947, my birth day.)  I also remembered I got air sick and almost threw up.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Just a Basic Day - Religion

If I were to be a preacher or priest or rabbi, I think I would join the military.  There are always plenty of sin going round and those who need to be saved or at least brought to the light.  I do not remember attending church while in Basic but I do remember a LTC Chaplin coming by the beer tent just to see if we were all doing OK and hinted that he was willing to talk to us anytime we wanted.  Of course we were not going to admit that we needed anything he had to offer, being the macho soldiers we were.

One other time a minister who was not in the army came out to one of our bivouac areas and held a small little service.  He gave us some inspirational words and let it be known that God would take care of us if we would only let him.  That he would clean our souls with his tears.

That night God cried a lot because there was a drenching downfall of rain that washed our camp site out. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Just a Basic Day - Propaganda

There is a great big sign or at least there was right outside of the basic training complex.  It read, "more sweat in training, less blood in battle." 

Getting one all charged up is one of the major reasons basic training was invented.  Of course there was the conditioning and the learning how to be a soldier, but without being mind washed the rest is all for naught.  There are numerous ways the army and the military in general go about psyching one out.  Music is used, giving awards to place on your uniforms, different kinds of uniforms and some are by signs.  I had my share of awards, had four differnt kinds of uniforms, could choke up when an army band played but signs seemed to be every where.  A few I remember are "Think War," "Mission First, People Always," "God Hates Communists."  There were more but 40 plus years have erased most of them, but I am sure if you go on a military base today the signs and slogans will be displayed.

As almost an aside I remember that one day at Ft Benning we were all in an out door class receiving instruction on how to enter a village.  They had a mock up of a Vietnamese village.  The tactic are not that important here, but I thought then and do today how funny it was that the narrator said, "after the village is stabilized, you go to the village bulletin broad remove the enemy propaganda and replace it with our information."

Monday, January 7, 2013

Just a Basic Day - Camping

(my spell check just went out.  It will be wrose than normal.)

My cousin asked my dad to go camping once.  Dad said he did not want to go and when asked why and had he ever been dad replied, "Yes once, but we called in Korea."   Well I almost think the same way and if I had gone to Viet Name or something like that, I'm sure dad and I would agree.

As an officer you are given to shelter halfs to make one small, what we all call, "pup tents."  They were made from canvas, green, and very heavy.  If you were an enlisted man or a traniee you were only given one shelfter half and you had to find a guy who you would share a another shelfter half with. 

Depending on if you were tactical or administrative you would sit you tents up in neat rows, dig drainage ditches around your tent in such a way that if it rained the water would run to another trench that others had dug in front or behind their tents.  In theory the water would run off your tent into the trench surrounding your tent and then flow into the trench that would carry the water away and you would stay high and dry.  It never seemed to work that way though.  If it rained a lot you just figured on becoming wet.

If you were tactical you just put your tent where ever you wanted with in a defined area and make sure you were at least 10 meters away from the other tents (the distance that a hand granade would kill at) and make sure you were camouflaged, an art in itself.  (If you were really hard core you could use your poncho and poncho liners together with commo wire and make your self a nice little abode. I am far from hard core but I have done it, it works and I prefer it.)

With all the technology I hope the military has figured out a way to make the tents lighter weight and individualized by now.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Just a Basic Day - DI's

Drill Instructors, Drill Sergeants or just plain DI's were and I assume a dedicated lot.  The are also mean, cantankerous, sadistic, funny, and think all basic trainees are stupid and beneath contempt.  Most of them did not quite know what to make of us.

The average age of a basic trainee back in 1968 was about 19.  Most had never been away from home, most were draftees and I am sure most didn't want to be there in the first place.  The ones that were not scared to death had an attitude and a bad one to boot.  Our cycle, with all the two year ROTC candidates were an average age of 23, didn't really want to be there but given the alternative kept a good attitude about the whole thing.  Like one guy told me, "I'd hate to get killed because I wasn't paying attention in class."  To the DI's we were just as stupid and little less contemptible than most recruits and we were also giving them a break.  They didn't worry about us going AWOL or smartomg off or being thrown in the guard house, or be given Article 15's, it was sort of like a vacation to them.

They tried to act gruff but we knew it was all a game and knew that they knew and that we knew they knew that we knew. 

I cannot remember any of their names except for our platoon drill sergeant.  I can remember what they looked like however.  All of them were black except the one I had.  His name was Sgt Redman.  He had been in the army three years, this time.  He had been in and out of the army three times and had gone thru basic as a recruit three times.  He drank a lot or so his red cheeks said and he wasn't that smart but sort of a nice guy.  He seemed to be pretty realistic about us, and didn't give us any amount of harassment.  He just told us to do things and we would do them and he did it with out yelling.  I have often wondered if he stayed in the army.  All the DI's wore smokey the bear hats.

Some of the guys in our company had a lot of problems going through the physical things required.  The DI's tried to help them and encourage them.  They would not give up and told the cadets that they could not give up either.  Most did not.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Just a Basic Day - Recycle

Just a Basic Day - Recycle

It seemed like every time the commander of our basic training company got mad at us for some infraction, usually not getting some place on time, he would threatened to "recycle" all of us.  We knew he couldn't do it of course but we did not want to challenge him either.  Recycle meant that we had to start basic all over again.  That was always a depressing thought.  In our particular situation it would never have happened, but to the regular draftee it was devastating.  Even the threat of being sent to Viet Nam was not enough for you to want to repeat basic.  The worst he, the commander, could do to us was kick us out of the program and there were a few that should have been.  It scares me just a little to think that some of the goof balls, and duffaces I saw in the ROTC Basic Training program made it thru and became officers.  Hopefully they were in the fiance or admin branch or some such place where they could not get someone killed easily.

Of course one of my greatest fears was that I would someday be put into a position that unless I made the right decision I could get someone killed.  The Fiance and Admin branches were not that bad a deal for any of us I guess.  I for one was a reluctant warrior at the very best.