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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Just a last Basic Day - Graduation.

Graduation

When ever a Basic Training Cycle is completed the military has a "Pass in Review."  That is when the entire brigade and brigades assemble on the parade ground and pass in front of the reviewing officer, after said officer gives a short speech congratulating everyone for completing the training.  It is sort of an elaborate and complicated affair but has been done often enough that it goes without a hitch.  After the speech the commander of the unit  parading in review shouts out "Pass in Review."  The review is lead by an army band and each unit at company level marches and when they pass the reviewing officer the commander of the company level unit sounds off "Eyes Right."  The officers leading each company and platoon size units salutes, the squad nearer to the reviewing stand keeps their eyes and head straight ahead and the other columns turn their heads to the right.  After the reviewing stand is passed the same officer yells "Eyes Front."  The salutes are completed and the heads snap forward again.  It sounds sort of hokey but those participating do feel elements of pride.  I practiced the event several times but was unable to attend the ceremony.  I was recovering from an event that happened the night before.

A bunch of us were celebrating are completion of basic at the beer tent.  Another guy and I decided we didn't like each other and my only one real fight in my life ensued.  The guy beat me to a pulp.  I would like to say I put up a good fight but in reality I did not.  I remember very little about the fight and was black and blue and my face was swollen.  Several of my comrades helped me back to the the barracks and propped me up in the shower.  Several guys from the other platoons came by and said they would go down and beat the other guy up if I wanted them too.  They said they really didn't like the guy anyway and he had been a bully the entire eight weeks.  I told them not to bother, it was my fault for letting my masochism get in the way of sound judgement.

Needless to say I was somewhat embarrassed and had no desire to see the guy the next morning before the parade.  So when the platoon fell out the next morning I remained in bed and did not get up till noon when the troops arrived back to the company eara.

We started processing our way out of Fort Benning, several of my closer friends and I jumped in my car and headed home.  My basic days were over and while I don't dwell on them or want to relive it in any way shape or form, I don't want to forget even the most horrific parts of it and will treasure many of the events that occurred in the summer of 1968.

Just a Basic Day - Religion


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.

Just a Basic Day - Propaganda

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."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Just a Basic Day - Camping

Camping

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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Just A Basic Day - DI's

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 smartimg 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.

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.Recycle


Monday, November 13, 2017

Just a Basic Day - Low Crawling

Low Crawling

We had to low crawl it seemed every time we turned around.  As everything in the army there was a specific way to low crawl.  You had to lay flat on your stomach, extend your arms at the elbow placing your hands flat on the ground with fingers facing front.  Then you would spread your legs like a frog.  You would then extend your right arm forward while at the same time bringing your left knee towards the front while maintaining it parallel to and on top of the ground.  Then you would repeat the patters with the left arm and right leg and keep alternating until you got to where you wanted to go.  The idea was to present the lowest target you could to the enemy.  It works.

The biggest low crawl challenge you had is when you had to crawl under live machine gun fire.  During the first few weeks of basic you kept hearing about this and I suspect most of us had seen it done in movies.  It seems like there was always someone who had come across a snake, panicked and stood up and was shot.  It always was one or two cycles ahead of us but what actually was one of those urban legends never really happened.

Our turn to crawl under live fire finally came.  We were herded in to a trench at one end of a big long open field.  It was night.  The machine guns were set up at the opposite end and started firing over our heads.  When a bullet passed by you could hear a "snap" or a "crack" sound.  We were told that is the bullet breaking the sound barrier.  I don't know if that was true or not, but you did hear the bullet whizzing by.

We were told to climb over the drench wall and remain low (that seemed obvious to me.)  Then we were to low crawl under barbed wire while the bullets zinged over head, every 5th round being a tracer round thus lighting up the night.

No one panicked and I realized that the guns were placed in such an angle and on platforms that one would have to jump up and down in front of the gun and then probably couldn't jump that high to get hurt.

I was sort of disappointed because the position I had in line was towards the end of the column and no fire was going directly over head.  I didn't see any snakes either

Just a Basic Day - Shaving

Clean shaven, army style

If there is one thing the military likes more than shined boots it is a hairless face.  This is in far contrast to the old days or even regulations.  However make sure you shave your mustache if you are career oriented and if you are in basic training don't even bother to try and remind your superiors that you are with-in regulations dawning your handlebar.

One of the guys in our unit showed up with a bright red handlebar mustache.  It was curled on the ends at least twice.  Quite the sporty looking affair.  We asked him if anyone had said anything to him bout it and very indignantly said "no, it is within regulations."


Two hours later a bunch of us ran into him again and he was clean shaven.  We asked him what the deal was.  He said that the Mess Sergeant refused to feed him until he shave his moustache.  He said he went to complain to the captain but could not get past the company clerk until he shaved his mustache.  Everyone needs to conform now and then I guess.



We had to shave everyday.  Even when we were in the field.  We would use hot water provided by the mess section which we poured in our steel pots.  If there was not hot water cold water had to suffice.  We had no mirrors so to make sure that we got all the right places we were taught a technique that insured we would be clean shaven.  First you select a companion, usually your tent mate, both lather up then looking at each other mimic what the other guys is doing with is razor just like you do in a mirror.  It really works.  Some little trivia there.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Just a Basic Day - Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers

You do not realize how sheltered of a life you live until you start meeting guys from all over the country in a guy setting, ie like Basic Training.  Just to name a few by geography, I have long lost the memory of their names, - South Dakota (went to law school) North Dakota (called him MoJo for some reason, ran into him ten years later at Ft Sill, had the room across from mine in the officers quarters one AT) Washington, DC (law school, George Town) Wyoming (he was very flexible, could kick his leg over his shoulder, one night we were talking and he told me his Dad had committed suicide, I did not have the nerve to ask how) Boston, Texas, Rhode Island, New York ( the first Jewish guy I had ever met.  He was not cut out for the program but would have been less cut out for the regular basic training program. He was a funny guy, took his pain in stride and never, never gave up and completed the course, he was also a law school guy.)

We had a lot of guys from back east and down south.  Their exact locations escape me but they seemed to be more interested in where I lived than I thought normal.  I guess the word Kansas in Kansas City threw them a lot.  It took me forever to explain that Kansas City was in Missouri not Kansas and I am not sure they ever did figure it out.  One guy in particular was sincere when he asked me if we had cows on the street and did I own a cow boy hat.

I was very fond of all those guys.  Some were just cool guys, others were down home types, some were nerds but all were likable.  There was not one guy in our platoon that I did not like or nor get along with.

The last day we were there a guy, one of the nerds, put up a piece of paper on the bulletin board for all of us to put our names and addresses on.  We all just laughed about it knowing who the poster was, but we all seemed to slip our name on the paper.  I don't remember if I copied any of the names down, but wish I had now 50 years later.

I don't dwell on those guys and each year I remember fewer and fewer.  There is a Basic Training book that was made and it is some where in one of my many boxes I keep stuff in.  Guess I should go find it and pay a short visit to a band of brothers who at one time were very important to me.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Just a Basic Day - PT

More PT please

PT stands for physical training.  Most recruits are out of shape when they arrive at basic so the Services deem it their responsibility to get one in shape and up to fighting standards.  "More sweat in training less blood in battle" was posted on a big sign when you entered Sand Hill. They do this by not allowing you to walk any where in the company area unless in formation, having certain obstacle courses you have to negotiate before meals, the daily morning run, and of course the Daily Dozen they are called.  The the Daily Dozen are a series of exercises that if dun daily will make you a lean, mean, fighting machine.  I cannot remember all of the calisthenics but they consisted of deep knee bends, squats, push ups (four and eight counts) squat thrusts, waist bends, and others.  After you thought you were through you were supposed to shout "more PT Drill Sergeant" and pretend that you meant it.  If the Drill Sergeant didn't think you meant it he would just have you do more calisthenics.  There must be some logic there some where.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Just a Basic Day - Mess

I am not sure why the serving of food in the military is called Mess.  I suspect it comes from some British Term and not the way the food is prepared or served.  The food we were served while in Basic was good and I can say I never had a terrible meal while in uniform.

The food was always plentiful and not bad tasting and the degree to which it was not bad tasting was due to the pride the head cook took in his profession.  I cannot remember any specific meal but the food was served on a two week rotation.  That meant that every two weeks you got the same thing.  Like if you got spaghetti on Sunday, two weeks later you would have spaghetti unless that particular Sunday fell on a holiday and then you had the holiday menu.  It varied from roast beef to ham to turkey.

When at all possible we were provided hot meals in the field.  Instead of trays we used our mess kits, a silver looking metal device that could be folded up and carried on your side along with a knife fork and spoon.  We drank out of our canteen cups, which was the metal device that our canteen was held in taht we wore connected to our ammo belts.  The food served in the field really wasn't bad at all.

C rations were another matter.  They came in tan boxes and contained all sorts of stuff stuffed in a OD green can which was impossible to open almost. They were supposed to come with an opener called a P38 but more often than not they were no where to be found.  Once you came across one you kept hold of it.  Seemed like there was a mix of fruit, a meat can, peanut butter, jelly, cheese spread, crackers, eggs and cigarettes depending on which box you drew.  Kool, Winston's, Chesterfields, Lucky Strikes, Camels, and Marborals.  They were good trading items. The highest trading item was ham slices. It is said that one would kill for ham slices.  That is putting it a little strong but they were tasty.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Just a Basic Day - Bits and pieces

It has been many years ago and even though somethings stand out very clearly other things are a blur and most aren't remembered  in the sequence in which they occurred.

For instance, we were issued two pairs of boots.  We were supposed to ware a different pair every other day.  The "odd" day boots we were told to make a notch on the inside portion of the outside heal.  I did not want to do that because that meant that I would have to polish twice as many boots as we were supposed to and the army seemed to have a fetish about shinny boots.  So I just ignored the edict and kept one pair as display and wore the other so they would get broken in sooner.
   
One day we were in formation when the Drill Sergeant told us he was going to check our boots.  It was the "odd" day so a notch was required.  The Sergeant walked behind each squad and had each man raise his right foot and the Sergeant would run his finger over the spot that the notch was supposed to be.  It became my turn and I wondered what punishment I would have to endure.  He slid his finger along the heal so it would touch the notch and then passed on by with out feeling or saying a thing.  That taught me that somethings in the army you could ignore if you knew who was going to do the inspections.

Speaking of breaking in boots.  No matter what we all got blisters.  We would sit in the middle of the floor in the barracks and prick the side of the blister and drain the puss then put band aids over the remaining skin.  I don't think that is what one is supposed to do to blisters but it was what we did then.

We would run in the morning.  I never was a distance runner and never seemed to keep up, but it was more mental than physical.  I seldom "fell out" but only on a few occasions did I run towards the front of the line when towards the end we were told to "move out," that was sort of a race to the end.  Sometimes I would anticipate the command and start running before everyone else.

I use to like waking up in the middle of the night.  It was quiet, no one was yelling at me and I could go back to sleep easily.  I use to sleep on the top of my blankets so I would not have to make my bed in the morning.

My favorite thing to eat in the mess hall was eggs, bacon, and toast all made into a sandwich.  I stole a pie while on KP once and hid it under the mess hall and was going to retrieve it after my shift was over and bring in back to the guys in the barracks.  I had a 15 minute break and went and told the guys what I was bringing.  As I was returning to be mess hall I saw the only stray dog I have ever seen on an army post eating the apple pie.  After shift I returned to the barracks empty handed and my story about the dog was not believed.

Like I said, just bits and pieces.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Basic Day - Hand Grenades

Most of us have shot off fire crackers and have pretended to throw hand grenades when we "played" army as a kid.  I was particularly good at both, at least in my mind and I guess successful because I never blew off any fingers like my aunts and grandmother kept telling me I would do some day.

We were sitting in bleachers listening to the instructor as to how a hand grenade worked.  I am not sure of the details now but I do remember that you could not pull out the safety ring with your teeth like John Wayne use to do.

We were lined up.  Told to do nothing unless we were told to.  The first man in line was given what looked like a short squat pringles can, told to hold it by his throwing hand and place said hand against his chest and when told to "move out" he was to run to a man sitting behind a concrete bunker.  That man would take the grenade out of the container, place it in our hand properly, help us assume the throwing position (you did not throw it like a base ball but a rounded arching motion) and when he felt we were comfortable tell us to throw in the direction we had our non throwing hand pointed (he made sure the non throwing hand was pointed towards the impact area.)  After we threw it we were to drop to our knees and look out a thick glass window and watch the explosion.  One thing was made perfectly clear to us.  If for some reason we were to drop a live grenade we were not to try to retrieve it our selves but to let the instructor do it.  If the instructor thought we were trying to do his job after we had dropped it, he was bailing out of the bunker and let us deal with it.

Grenades are loud.  The first one that went off made us all jump up from the bleachers and none of us waiting were overly eager to toss a grenade about no matter how easy it seemed.  It was my turn
-  Canister in right hand against my chest, order to move out, on my knees behind the bunker, grenade taken from canister and placed in my right hand, now the non throwing hand takes the ring, pulls the pin, aims ring and non throwing hand down range, order given to throw grenade -  I threw that thing has hard as I could, just like a would a base ball, I dropped to my knees and have no recollection of where it landed nor did I see an explosion.

The good thing is I only had to throw one and for some reason feel like I  could do it now without any qualms and most of all I did not lose any fingers during the process.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Basic Day - On the firing line


We were all issued an M14 rifle and two clips to place the ammo in when it was given to us which was not then of course.  One of the DI's went through some rudimentary procedures on how to carry the "weapon" which they insisted we call it and if anyone ever called it a "gun" they were doing push ups soon after.

They loaded us on a 2 1/2 Ton army truck and we sat in the bumpy rig for about a half hour.  As soon as we departed the truck we were organized in to firing parties and sent to different stands for a lecture on how to aim and shoot.  This went on for a couple of hours and then they showed a demonstration where a marksmanship instructor fired the M14 holding it against his chin and then is groin.  That was to show us that if held properly the "kick" of the weapon would not hurt us.

We were told that we were to do nothing on the firing line until told to do so.  We marched off and lined up behind firing positions told to lay our weapons on the ground and then we were handed three bullets.  It would be tedious to discuss the procedures that we had to follow and go through before we could actually fire and the methods we used to site in our weapons, and the long hours we spent doing all of it, so lets just say by the end of six weeks we had a pretty good handle on how to load, aim, fire, maneuver, and hit what we were aiming at.  I found out that all the shooting I did with my BB gun back on Crisp Lake was of some help.  I qualified expert on the final exam.  I felt very comfortable with my gun, oh, I mean my weapon.  Hand granades were a different story however.

A Basic Day - Instruction



Like I stated earlier, there is the right way, the wrong way, and the army way.  That goes for military instructions methods also.  I do have to say however that the army and the military in general has a way of instruction that is superior.  They start out with the premise that the student doesn't know anything so they tell them what they are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what they told them.  Oddly enough it works.

The first class I remember having, and I guess it was on that first day, was how to salute, when to salute, and who to salute.  Not as easy as it sounds.  We all knew you were supposed to salute officers, we were not sure about sergeants however.  That answer is no if you didn't know already.  They showed us a film about saluting etiquette.  Like if you are passing by a restaurant and see an officer through the window you are not expected to salute.  However they stressed that saluting is just a greeting of sorts and the one saluted had just as much an obligation of saluting you back as you had in saluting.

During our first break we all had to practice saluting each other.  Our hands had to be at a certain tilt and angle and are arms the same.  A sloppy salute was disrespectful and no salute at all.

A lot of time was given to marching and what they called close order drill.  We saw a film and a demonstration then all piled out side again to practice.  Attention, at ease, right face, left face, about face, present arms, (with out a weapon means to salute) order arms, (stop saluting), forward march, column left, column right, to the rear march, right flank, left flank, open ranks, etc, the list goes on and on and seems like we never did it right enough for the DI.

The first few days we just marched to class and back twice a day and really thought we were doing something.  Eventually we were told to fall out in our fatigues (before this we had been told to dress in our class B [ khakis] with canteen and helmet liners.  We were going to receive the rest of our field gear, along with real army helmets and real honest to goodness rifles.  That morning we went to the firing range.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Basic Day - Rise and Shine

At 5:00 AM the lights in the barracks snapped on.  A voice yelled out "Rise and Shine, you have twenty minutes to s*&^, shower, shave and fall out, now get moving ladies."  Well of course there were no ladies around, it is just one of those terms of endearment that drill sergeants use now and then.

We all scrambled and stumbled over one another to fulfill the DI's (drill instructor) "request" which of course was no request at all.  Some how we all made it outside and lined up the best we could trying to remember in what position we were in the day before.

Our DI kept yelling at us to get in line, cover down, "are you all just stupid or lazy," and some how we all did a right face and marched to the mess hall.  We lined up and had to run through a gantlet of sorts to get to the entry door.  There was a run dodge and jump, low crawl through a sand pit, and a pull up bar we had to maneuver through and only then were we allowed to enter the mess hall three at a time.

We grabbed our trays and eating utensils as we were yelled to do, food was slapped on our trays while the cooks and servers kept telling us to "keep moving."  We were yelled at to sit at a table for four, hurry up and eat, and get back to the barracks and clean up around our bed.  I can't remember what we had to eat that morning but we usually had eggs, bacon, toast, grits, milk, juice.

After the meal was gulped we ran back to our barrack bed only to find that our beds had been dismembered and we spent a good 5 minutes sorting that out and finished just in time to hear the DI yell for us to fall out.  We stumbled into formation again and marched off to get a haircut while being yelled at to cover down, stay in step and all sorts of derogatory comments about the way we looked and our intelligence in general.

After a very nice buzz cut we marched back to the company area.  Then marched off to an old movie theater I assumed, and told to take off our ammunition belts, helmet liners, and canteens and place them in front of us and take one side step to the right.  After bumping into each other because every ones right seemed to be different the "squad leader" who unluckily was the first guy in line was yelled at to make sure all the ammo belts, helmet liners, and canteens were in a straight row.

We were then instructed to enter the building single file, go to an area to sit as yelled to do but not to sit down.

A Sergeant of some sort got on the stage and yelled "Take your Seats!"  We had to do this several times because the instructor did not like the way we all sat down but eventually we all did it in close enough in unison to please him.  As we sat down we all had to yell out "C-8 -2, pride of the infantry."   Our first lesson on how to be a soldier was about to begin.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Just a Basic Day - Sleep Tight

Sleep Tight

C - 8 -2 I found out meant Charlie Company, eighth battalion, second brigade.  To me it broke down further when I was told to go into the second platoon, third squad area of what is commonly called WWII barracks.  These are two story oblong buildings that were probably designed before WWI.  The design I suppose was adequate and efficient so when they needed a lot of them they didn't reinvent the wheel, just got out their rubber stamp.

Sand Hill was the place where all basic training trainees learned to be soldiers.  It was almost like it sounds, plenty of sand, rock, gravel, cookie cutter buildings, and little green vegetation.  The structures from barracks to admin buildings were all painted a sand tan color.  Ergo, Sand Hill.


There was another unique feature of Sand Hill - a lot of guys running around in Smokey the Bear hats yelling at everyone that did not have one, mostly us filing off the buss.  We were yelled at to run hear, store our duffel's, run hear get your bed material, run here to eat lunch, run here run there and then here again.

Our particular nemesis was a red cheeked white drill sergeant named Redman.  As far as yelling drill sergeants go he wasn't that bad.  He in a voice of calm demeanor if drill sergeants have such things, taught us how to dress in military style, hang our clothes, make our beds, how to respond when spoken to, pack our footlockers, and numerous stuff that we all had an inkling on how to do, but not to army standards.  That old adage there is "right way, the wrong way, and the army way" was certainly true.

We were lined up, marched to the chow hall went through a line with the cooks and servers yelling at us to hurry up and someone else yelling at us to hurry up and eat.  As soon as you were done you had to run outside and go to your barrack and stand by you cot for inspection.  Before the inspection came we were told to "fall-in" next to the barracks.

A captain, our company commander I found out later, said that if we did not like it here we could all go home at anytime.  He said out contracts with the army and ROTC allowed such but just as a warning our home draft boards would be notified and we would be placed on priority draft status and he would see us again in 6 months.  "Now is there anyone here other than the young boy I have already talked to that wants to leave?"  The use of the word "boy" did not escape any of us.

We were dismissed, told to go to our bunks and go to sleep immediately.  It was 7:00 PM.  We all went to our bunks but how many of us slept I do not know.

Just a Basic Day - Arrival

Arrival

When I arrived at the main gate at Fort Benning I was told to follow the signs that would lead me to the reception station for the ROTC candidates.  Instead I was directed by sign to a huge parking lot where I was told to park my car, get my belongings and stand behind my vehicle until a bus picked me up.  I was not alone, there were many cars already parked, there were about a hundred waiting for a bus, and the cars kept coming.

The army realized in the middle 60's that they were running out of officers, especially young lieutenants.  West Point could not keep up with demand, most draftees were not interested in going to officer candidate school, and the college ROTC programs were dwindling fast.  The army decided to offer incentives to colleges and universities if they would establish ROTC programs, which is what CMSC did.  The new programs needed senior cadre so they developed a two year program where by you went to basic training at a specialized facility which gave you credit for the first two years of ROTC training and you spent your junior and senior year attending military classes while completing your college degree.  After that you only owed the government two years of active duty, the same as being drafted.  Seemed like a deal to me, besides they paid you during the school year a small amount.  I think it was $50 a month.

It was a popular program.  Not only did you get paid to go to school you put off the inevitable draft and when you finally did go into the army, which back then was only a matter of time, you went in as an officer.  I really thought to myself that if I was going to have to go in the army any way I might as well make more money than a private to be shot at.

A bus came by and about 50 of us were herded on and taken to the receptions station.  We were told to go sit under "that tent over there" where they had all sorts of food and drink.  This isn't bad I thought to myself.  Eventually I and 25 others were told to get in line and we started being processed.  Name, date of births, family contacts, sign forms, it went on and on.

The 25 were then taken to a small assembly area where this scare crow looking captain welcomed us to Fort Benning Basic Training Detachment.  He told us that this is where "we train you to be soldiers" and he hoped we would enjoy are stay.  Seemed like a pretty nice guy I thought.

As soon as he finished some guy started yelling at us to get up, stand in line, do not get out of order, don't lose the foleder we were given and he marched us single file into a giant warehouse yelling at us all the way to keep in step and not get out of order.  The warehouse contained all the military clothing and other items we would need immediately.  We were given quick exams and then shots via air guns by guys who had probably gotten there the day before.  Some times the air guns would not be flush with the skin and the pressure would blow away part of the skin.  There was many an arm dripping with blood by the time we got out side where another bus awaited.

We all filed on and I was the last one to get a seat.  I heard the guy behind me who seemed to be in charge tell the driver, "Sand Hill, C-8-2."  Off we went.

Basic Training



Around the middle of May in 1968 I pointed my 1964 Ford towards Georgia.  As far as I was concerned it was about as far away as Crisp Lake and Van Horn as I had ever been.  Not really I guess because I had been to Florida several times with my grandparents, but this was the furthest I had ever journeyed by myself.

My destination was Fort Benning.  I was being given the privilege to participate in a basic training sessions for two year ROTC candidates.  It was a privilege because if I had not wormed my way into the program I would have been doing basic in Fort Lenard Wood and my classroom the following fall would not have been CMSC (what it was called back then.)

I was not familiar with the interstate highway system back then, I don't really even know if they had one as such, so I cut across Missouri towards Memphis.  Once at Memphis I kept driving until I reached Tupalo, Mississippi, spent a short night and hit the road early.

Not much of the nitty gritty of the trip do I remember but I do recall entering Alabama and the first thing I saw was a great big sign saying Welcome to Alabama.  The next sign said George Wallace's White Way.  I noticed the highway was new and was pretty white.  I thought to myself that who ever this George Wallace is he has a nice road named after him.

I spent the second night about 30 miles from the Georgia state line.  I called a friend of mine I had not seen since high school, Mike Putman.  I knew he was going to medical school in Georgia and his family had moved there also.  He was thrilled to hear from me and was ready to drive to where I was, which was pretty far, but his mother decided that wasn't a good idea.  I told him that when I got settled in at Fort Benning I would give him a call.

The next morning I sat out towards Columbus, GA located next to Fort Benning where I would spend the next six weeks or so.  I had no idea what to expect but knew there was no going back, at least that day.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Another explanation

There were not many letters written in April due to the fact that is when we took our trip to California to see Dad.  By me I mean both my grandparents, Margie, and I.  Margie was Dad’s girlfriend and is mentioned a lot in the letters.  I remember her.  Tall blond.

Margie seemed more in a hurry to get there than we were, so to the best of my recollection I can only remember stopping once on our way out there but we must have stopped over night some place else.  I know one night was spent in New Mexico at a motel that was shaped like Indian Teepees.  I remember stopping at the California border and having to surrender any fruits and vegetables we might have been carrying with us.

I remember seeing Dad as we drove up in the evening standing by his barracks and the guest house we stayed in.  The people who ran the guest house were black and I spent a long time talking to a very attractive black lady.  I guess she thought I was a cute little boy.  A black soldier walked in on us as we were talking and told me he was going to tell her husband that she had been talking to me.  Sort of scared me.  When we checked out my grandfather gave me some oranges to give to the lady.  The same soldier was standing there as I went to the lady’s door and I still remember being some what intimidated and afraid he would tell her husband.

The only two things I remember about Camp Roberts is we went and played Bingo and one of the prizes was a pin that wrote underwater.  I thought that would be a neat prize.  We didn’t win anything.  The other thing is when my grandparents and I were driving around the base one afternoon and ended up on a road that we discovered was restricted for civilian traffic.  An army vehicle came up upon us and my grandfather grabbed my army cap and put it on his head so they would think he was a soldier.  I am not sure to this day if he was serious or not.

The weekend we were there we all drove to San Francisco.  My grandfather wanted to two three things.  Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, which we did; eat in China Town, which we did; and ride the cable car, which he didn’t for reasons now I don’t recall.  We took a boat and drove around Alcatraz, visited the Red Wood Forest, and I am sure much more but that is all my 5 year old brain can recall. 

I don’t remember taking Dad back to Roberts but I do remember Margie stayed there, we stopped in Los Vegas, by grandmother bumped my head with the handle of a slot machine, some place in Arizona or New Mexico we saw tumble weed, got caught in a sand storm, went through the Petrified Forest, and saw the Painted Desert.

Dad mentions a couple of more new people in his letters of April but I did not know any of them.

The last letter Dad wrote in April was the first and one of the few times he mentioned anything about some “special training” he was going to receive based around “army intelligence.”   If you want to find out more about that go to my blog “The Adventures of Conley McAnally” and find the blog I wrote in November 2010 called “Spy Dad.”  It really is an interesting story and was not finished until dad's funeral.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

April 30, 1953

Thur April 30, 1953

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

Well I guess you are home by now.  I am still on the 60mm motor.  Margie and I went to the show last night again.  I don’t know what I will do tonight. 

I had something happen today that may be good news and may not.  They called 16 of us out at  to go to be interviewed by Government Intelligence.  It is a secret of some kind.  They sent 5 back because they had been charged with some crime.  They took down our life history, every place we lived, when you and Dad were born and where and all that kind of stuff.  All he told us was that we would finish our basic here, take our leave as usual and then go to a 2 week school which has something to do with aircraft in one way or another.  Then we would go to our port after school.  We will still be infantry as far as I know but will have two weeks of some kind of training.  I will have to wait and find out.  It may work into something good I hope.  They told us not to talk to anyone about it and even among our selves.  They will probably be around checking on my credit and character references.

I don’t want you to say a word about this to anyone at all.  I will let you know more when I find out more.  It must be pretty secret or they wouldn't have told us not to talk about it.  They picked us up in a truck and they just told us to get on, that was all they said.

Well how was the trip?  I got your card you mailed Monday.  I guess I will close for now, I’ll write later on.  I sure miss having you here to see at night.  I really had a swell time when you were here on your trip.
Love, Ted

Saturday, July 8, 2017

April 29, 1953

Wed morn  April 29, 1953

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

Thought I would take a few minutes this morning to write you and tell you I had a swell time last weekend and I sure hated to see you go back.  Margie is still here.  I saw her Monday night for a little bit and went to the show last night.

Guess you will be home by the time you get this letter.  Wish I had made the trip back with you.

We had the .45 pistol Monday and it rained all day long.  Got kind of wet.  Tues we start the 6mm motor and will be in it for about a week.  That will just bout finish our weapons.  Won’t have many more.  Will close for now.  Will write later.  I miss having you here.
Love, Ted

Thursday, July 6, 2017

April 13, 1953

April 13, 1953

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

I guess you thought I had forgotten how to write.  I have been busy.  My training is about the same.  We double time a lot.  We went for about 3 ½ miles without stopping the other day.  We are still on machine guns.  I fired this morning and came in at  for KP to relieve the guys who were on KP so they could fire.  Everyone has to do it.  I got off just a while ago.

Sat Keith and two other guys and myself got a pass and left about  and went to Pismo Beach.  It was really nice there.  We stayed in a motel looking out over the beach and the ocean.  We hitched hiked and had no trouble getting a ride.
Sunday night when we got back I went to the guest house in the East garrison and put a deposit on the rooms.  It cost only 1 dollar a day per person.  Margie cannot stay there because she is single.  I stopped at another guest house on the way backs in the west garrison and made a reservation for her.  It was the same price as the other.  Girls only can stay there.  It is kind of an inconvenience that way.  I paid for a day for you $3 and a day for Margie, $1.  The reservations are for 22 April.  When you get here come to Btry A-44 orderly room and ask for me.  If I am not there they will tell you what time the troops get back.  Better just send Dad in because they don’t like a lot of people in there, it gets confusing.  There is a parking lot on the next street back of the parade field. 

I have been looking forward to you arriving for quiet awhile.  I don’t know just what we wan do when you get here.  But we can see when you get here.  It has been cool here so don’t forget your coats.

I just got your letter.  Glad everything is ok.  I don’t have any tires left to give him.  I let them go with the car.

Well Saturday they took some of us to be interviewed for leadership school.  I signed my name but may not take it.  It’s a sharp school.  Shoe strings have to be pressed, floors so clean you can eat off them etc.  It would be another 8 weeks of training after I finish my 16 weeks here.  It would be in the heat of the summer.  You have to give a 5 and 20 minute talks on different subjects etc.  I don’t think I would like that.    The guys that don’t go to officer’s candidate school go directly to Korea.  I have until about my 15th week to decide.  I might be lucky enough to get some other school.  They interview us in our 8th week for schools.  Very few guys with A1 profile get to go to most schools unless they have had some college.

The guy who got his money stolen never did get it back.  They made us go to bed at 9 instead of staying up all night.

Margie said she saw the note Jan gave Arkie.  Arkie showed it to Margie.  That makes me mad that she does that.  She had better not cause me any trouble personally more than she has.  I would just as soon she didn’t keep my name.  Sometime why don’t you go down and talk to a lawyer and see what he says.

I guess I will see you before long.  You probably won’t get to many more letters from me before you leave.  I will write again when I get a chance.
Love, Ted 

Ps  I got a letter form Lowell and Virginia and one from Jimmie Miller.  Tell them I will write before long if you talk to them.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Out of order letter date uncertain.

(received and posted out of order)

Dear Mom and Dad

I received your letter last night.  I got 6 letters all together.  Was glad to get them.

Sunday night after I wrote you I went to the service club and ate in the cafeteria.  Got a good meal. 

I found out that you will have to stay in the East Garrison guest house.  I tried to call but couldn’t get anybody.  I found out that I have to get a form signed by my Btry Commander though.  I am having a guy get me one tonight.  You can only stay there for three days..  Let me know as soon as you can the approx date you will be here.  If you get here during the week you could stay here and then I would get a pass on Sat and we could go some place else.
I think Richard Jacques is at Camp ChaffeeArkansas.  He may be put in the infantry or artillery.  He may be lucky to get something better.  Nice he is close to home.

I had classes all day yesterday and another hour of bayonet training.

We had a Btry complaint session last night with our Btry Commander.  Did I tell you he is just 24 years old.  2nd Lt.  He is pretty good and plenty smart.  He said we will have a party before long and have steaks and beer. 

We went to the field again today for class.  We always eat  out.  If it is cold we have coffee in the morning once in a while, when it is hot we have orangeade or lemonade in the afternoon.

I am mailing something home to you all for Easter.  Hope you like it.  I didn’t get to go to church last night because of the meeting. 

I got you letter awhile ago and the newspaper.  Didn’t know you put my picture in the paper.  I was sure surprised.

To bad about Sad Sack, I hated to hear about him.

We got paid tonight, I got $74.  You should get the allotment check before long.  Jan should pay you what she always does, regardless of what the check is.  It will be either $40.00 or $51.30.  When we get paid we line up in alphabetical order and walk in the orderly room.  The 1st Sergeant has us sign our name.  Then one of the officers sits at a desk in another office.  We walk up, salute and say “Sir, Pvt. McAnally reporting for pay.”  He counts outs the money.  I pick it up and count it and then walk out.
We have to salute all the officers on the base if they are walking or in cars.

Did I tell you they play bugle calls at different times of the day.  All the cars stop at .  They call this retreat.  I saw Donald tonight.  He said he didn’t think Betty was coming out.

I enjoy getting the packages you sent.   Seems like the last package I got was on Thurs.  I will let you know when I get the next one.  I am fixed up on shaving lotion and tooth paste.

Well not much more to say, I will close now and write again.  I can never think of all I want to say.  I always think of it after I write.
Love, Ted


 A personal comment from Me

If you have been following this blog you may have noticed that the last two entries are out of order.  The last one was Dated 31 March and the one before that April 8, Easter.  Although Dad wrote them in order they were not postmarked correctly and received out of order by my grandparents.  Either the US Post Office lost them in the mail or the Army messed up.  Either way that is the way Dad filed them.
After the last blog entry dated the 31st I thought that this might be a good time to stop and provide some explanations as to who, what, where, when, and maybe how.  I think I will start doing that after every month to cut down on some confusion, you, the reader, might have. 
For instance Dad wrote about Camp Crowder.  Camp Crowder was a staging and processing Camp that was used for those who were drafted in the Midwest.  It is about a three hour drive from Kansas City and is nestled near JoplinCarthage, and SpringfieldMissouri.  Ft. Riley is in Kansas and home to the Big Red One Division.  Ft. Leonard Wood is between Rolla and SpringfieldMissouri and was a major basic training facility.  Camp Chaffee was also a basic training facility.  Crowder and Chaffee have been turned over to their respective states and used as training facilities for national guard units.  I have spent short tours of duty in all the places Dad mentions except for Camp Roberts which is close to San Francisco.

Jan was my mother and she must have done something to irritate Dad but what it was she did exactly I don’t know and have never asked.  Why they were divorced one can only speculate and again I have never asked.  My mother as of the present is still alive and has her wits but I don’t think it prudent for me to ask her what was going on back then.

Most of the guys Dad mentions are unknown to me.  He writes about a Keith Underwood several times, but I never heard him mentioned any other time while I was growing up.  He makes a passing reference to “Jim” whom I did know well and was like a best friend to Dad for many years after the war.  The guy named Arkie (which one time in Dad’s letters was called Archie) was a friend of his from Arkansas that had moved to Kansas City and they hung around the Bars together.  The Bar where Arkie met “Jan” is no longer there.  I did meet Arkie a couple of times, but from what I heard later he was not the type of guy Dad would want me to be around.  A fellow name Richard Jacques was the son of friends of the family and Donald, the one who had to go home because his father-in-law died and later recycled was a boyhood friend of his.  Betty was Don’s wife.  I never met or heard about them after Dad returned.

Sad Sack was my dog that got ran over by the school bus driver one morning while all of us kids were waiting to get picked up and taken to school.

Dad was a Christian Scientist so that is what CS stands for and my grandmother use to send him pieces of paper with CS information on them to help him through some of his hard times, especially when he had his lingering cold.  Mr. Clark was the CS representative at Camp Roberts and ministered to those of his denomination.

One thing I have noticed is that the training in 1953 was very similar to the training I went through in 1968. We had plenty of GI parties, doubled timed a lot, pulled KP, changed floors in the barracks now and then, had many classes, ate K-rations, but they were C-rations by 1968, spent many hours on the rifle range but did qualify with M-14’s and not M1’s. The procedure they used to pay us was identical and lasted well in to my own National Guard tenure.  I was a pay officer more than once.  I had a “Negro” drill sergeant in Ft. Benning, who for some reason made me guard a tree once also.  Some things never change.
Love, Ted



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

April 5 (Easter) - April 8, 1953

Easter Sunday (April 5)

Dear Mom and Dad,

Here I am in Paso Roables again.  Keith Underwood and I came in.  Every place was crowded.  We got a room in a motel for 2 dollars.  Four of us stayed there.  Three slept in a bed and the other guy slept on the floor.
I got your package.  Sure liked it.  I am pretty well set up with candy and gum now.  Cookies were good.
We have been firing the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle.)  That is all we have done that amounts to anything. 
We went to church service Fri afternoon and yesterday we didn’t get away from Camp until about .
You never did say if Snapper got the T shirt I sent.  Let me know if he got it.  I mailed a picture to you and Margie that they took of us the first or second week of basic.  I got yours back twice and Margie’s once because I did not have enough postage on it.  I guess you will be later getting it.
I don’t remember anything I said about calling.  I might call this afternoon though.  Well hope you have a happy Easter.
Love, Ted

Wed night  8 April 53

Dear Mom and Dad

Well have been busy lately again and haven’t had time to write.  Monday we fired the BAR again and Tues the same thing.  We are finished with that.  Today we started on the 30 cal machine gun.
I got to come in early today and work in the supply room.  We had K rations today.  This morning I had beans and franks and tonight I had sausage gravy.
Some body stole $90 out of a guys foot locker and they restricted all of us until further notice.
We have been digging around the barracks again so they could put sod out.  That is why I haven’t written you. 
I got your pictures, they sure were good looking.  I enjoyed talking to you Sunday.  I went to church Monday night again.  Mr. Clark has the servicemen take turns reading as 2nd reader.  He asked me to read next Monday but I told him I didn’t want too.
I am getting along alright.  I just got a letter from Arkie.  He is in Tacoma Washington (Ft. Lewis)  He is waiting for his orders.  He said when he was home he saw Jan at Bakers no. 2.  she was with some girl and she offered to buy him a drink.  He said Jan married a truck driver.  Later he comes in and asked Arkie if Jan was a nice girl.  Arkie told him that he just knew her through me.  He said Jan went out with a friend of his and mine and when she left she gave Arkie her phone number.  That makes me plenty sore that she does me that way.  Has she changed her name yet?  I would just as soon she doesn’t use my name anymore.  She probably lies about why she got a divorce.  Find out about that name.
Well hope you still come out when you plan.   To bad dad has to work Sunday before you come out.  Do you think you will be here before to late in the week?  I am sending you another picture.  This one is of the boys I live with, they are in my platoon and barracks.
Keith isn’t in the picture.  He was gone when they took the picture. 
They just told us that no one goes to bed till the $90 is returned. 
We still double time a lot.  It’s easy anymore.  We double timed for about 3 miles with out stopping the other day.  My legs don’t tire out a bit.  I run out of wind before my legs tire out.  My feet bother me once in a while.  Well let me hear from you.  I will write more later.
Love,  Ted
PS  the box you sent was fine.  It’s all gone now except for a few chocolates.  I don’t need anything.  I have plenty of gum and stationery.  We don’t get to chew gum much.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

March 25 - 31, 1053

Wed.  March 25,  1953

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

Well I got two letters from you tonight.  They were long letters.  I am ok.  Still have a little cold but it doesn’t bother me much.  My feet get sore off and on.
I wrote Margie and told her to come out if she wanted to.   I have taken it for granted she was going to come out anyway.  I think it is all right if she comes out.  I want you to come out anyway.  The trip will be nice to make in your new car.  Bet it is nice.  I think you should have reservations at the guest house.  I don’t know which one.  May be you should write right away in advance.  There are a couple of towns close by, Paso Roables and San McGill.  You could stay there if something would happen.
I didn’t get the package yet.   I can use the springs this weekend.  I have guard duty Fri at till Sat at , on two hours off two hours.  Your rifle and yourself have to be clean (the army says standing tall)  I use the springs in my trousers to make them stand out like this (Dad draws a picture of his boots and boot blouse)  They make a ring out of the springs and put them in here (draws arrow).  Makes them neat and takes the wrinkles out.  The rubber bands have to be tight so they will hold my pants in place around the top of my boots.  I thought you knew.  That is the way we wear out trousers.  Hardly ever wear our low top shoes.  Have worn them two or three times since I have been here.  We also wear helmet lines all the time.  Steel pots go over those.  Never ware them except when we fire.
The other day we went out to the entrenching class.  Learned how to dig fox holes.  A lot of work for nothing.  We got them dug then filled them back up.  We learned how to put bob wire up.  Then we had a class on protecting against enemy aircraft.  They had us walking across a hill all spread out and then a plane came over and dived at us and dropped four sacks on us.  It was fun too.
Yesterday we went out and fired the carbine.  It’s a US 30 Cal M1 Carbine.  A light semi automatic rifle.  4 ½ lbs.  Regular M1 30 Cal weight  is 9 ½ lbs.  I scored 129 out of 140 first time I shot.  This is the bullet Jan made.  These come from LC.
They had a map reading class.  We went to the top of Map Hill.  It is almost straight up.  Quite a climb.  You can see it in that picture of CR.  It is way out and to the left a little bit.  You can see it by the roads and paths as you go to the top.  There are seats there at the top and a big board.  See if you can find it.
My legs are hard as rocks.  That is about all the infantry builds up for you.  I get more tan everyday.
Tomorrow I go out and fire for the rifle team or something like that.  4 of us who had high scored take the Btry’s new rifles out and 0 the sights. 
I don’t think I know Taseter, but I will look him up when I get the address.  Try to find out what Donald’s address is too.  I haven’t seen him sense he left.  Don’t know where he is.
Well I can’t think of much more to say.  We have been cleaning the barracks for a regimental inspection.  Here is a cartoon to give you an idea.  Looking forward to the package.  Enjoyed the last one.  Didn’t last long.  Where did they send Richard Jacques?  Well I will write again soon.
Love,  Ted


Sunday.  March 29, 1953

Dear Mom and Dad

How is everything.  I took a pass yesterday.  Keith and I came to Paso Roables.  Stayed all night here.  Not much to do here.  Came to the USO to a dance last night.  It was crowded with GI’s so we left and went to a dance at Eagle Hall.  Same thing there.  We went to bed about 1100 and got up at 11 this morning.  We are just fooling around now.  Going back to camp in a little while.
I bought some infantry brass and some 7th Armored shields and an infantry belt buckle.  I can’t wear them until my 8th week.  I wont be in basic then.
 I can get a pass alright as far as I know.  You can stay in the guest house but you should have reservations.  I will try to make them.
I did get to go out and fire the M1 on the rifle team but they postponed the actual firing for awhile.
We learned to crawl through barb wire and over trenches Fri morn.  I came in at so I could get ready for guard duty.  But I didn’t do any guard duty, they had enough.  I left and went to the show and saw “Trouble Along the Way.”  The troop did not get back until just before . 
Sat we had 2 classes and inspection till .  I had my pass then.  Sure felt good to get away.  This isn’t much of a town, too many GI’s.  They treat you like dogs everywhere but the army stores and the USO.  I bought Snapper a T-Shirt.  I got a size 8.  Didn’t know the size.  Let me know what size he wears. 
I am doing ok.  I sure liked the box.  The candy was really good.  Didn’t last long because it was my favorite.  The springs were just right.  They sell the springs here for $1 a pair.  I sure could use some razor blades and tooth paste etc.  My lips were ok by the time I got the chap stick.  They healed over night.  The garters were just right 2, the adjustable ones.  I like them.
Well not much more to say.  I will write you again before long.
Love,  Teddy

Sunday.  March 29, 1953

Dear Mom and Dad

I got back from Paso Roables a while ago and I picked up some pictures I took last Sun  and Tue before.  They are a little better than they have been.
Not much new to say except I wish I could be home  Easter Sunday.  I am going to clean out my foot locker and go to the show later on or go to bed.
Let me know what day you think you will be here for sure.  I am going to try to call the guest house now and let them know.  I think I will tell the 1st sergeant you will be here and may be he wont put me down for guard or KP.  I have to tell him in advance.
Well let me know if you get my cards and 2 pictures.  I could use some more stamps too.  Take the money I have in the bank to pay for things I have you send me.  I will get paid Tuesday and you should get an allotment for Snapper within a week or two, let me know how much it is.  Also if you need any money for the trip use mine.  Just leave me enough to fly home in case I don’t have it when the time comes.  Tell Dad he may as well let my car go the first chance he gets.  I should get 1500 or more.  He can put his car in the garage and let mine set out.  Well I will close for now.
Love,  Ted

March 31, 1953

Dear Snapper

How have you been.  I sure miss you a lot.  Are you looking forward to coming to Camp Roberts next month.  I am glad you are doing good in school.  Keep it up.  Do you like the pictures I send home?  I got your picture you drew for me.  I keep it in my foot locker.  Did you like the T-shirt I sent you.  If you want another one let me know.  I wish I could be home Easter and be with you.  Well be a good boy and go to school and learn all you can and go to Sunday School every Sunday.  Mind your Grandma and Grandpa.  I still love my boy.
Love,  Daddy