I have been reading
Shaunta Grimes, Shannon Ashley, and several others.
They think writing as who you are is more important than writing what you want.
To this point, I have been writing what I want, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, Centering Prayer, Space, etc.
I just woke up after about 15 hours of sleep. I looked at my phone and there was an article from Medium on it. @Francis Korkor’s article “What type of people will never make it on Medium” was staring at me.
So I read it.
When I was
21-years-old they drafted me into Uncle Sams Army. That is AUS (Army of the United States) to civilians. That meant I was a draftee and not Regular Army (RA) (3-year volunteers).
I received my draft notice the day I was to take an Ethics Exam at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD). (This was the first year of the draft lottery.)
The hockey team that has won the National Champions for the second time last year (2018).
If you have not guessed I am from-Northern Minnesota.
That is neither here nor there.
I received my draft notice the morning my bride, and I returned from our honeymoon.
I expected it since anybody that could breathe and wasn’t rich went in.
I went to the induction center in Minneapolis for my physical. We went out on the town that night. We went to the Gay 90s Bar. I was a hick from the sticks and did not understand what the Gay 90s meant — it was 1971.
After a few McMaster's and 7Up, I didn’t care what Gay 90s meant.
We started our flight at the
Mpls-St. Paul Internation Airport that afternoon. It was after dark when we landed. But it wasn’t at our assigned training base.
We landed — I don’t know where. But we were on our way to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. We would soon call it Fort Misery.
They bussed us several hours in the dark.
We arrived at — somewhere in the dark. They herded us (yes that is the correct word) into a big room with rows and rows of tables.
They passed us papers after papers. We filled them out and passed them to the head of the table (to my right).
After we completed that we had some dry bread and dry cheese sandwiches with coffee if we wanted.
We continued on. First to get uniforms — herded into rooms to try on boots, pants, shirts, field jackets — mostly they guessed at our sizes and three stuff at us.
They tossed us a big bag in which we stuffed everything thrown at us.
No sleep yet!
They herded us back on busses and took to an old; I mean old wooden building.
After two weeks of test-taking and learning how to march and calisthenics they graduated us to Quonset Hut Barracks where we spent the next 10 weeks.
I learned more about myself in boot camp than about Army protocol. Except that everything
was shouted at us.
I learned I could count on myself in trying times. I guess that ways the point.
After Basic Training I got two weeks off and spent it at my bride’s parent’s home.
After the two weeks, we embarked on our trip to Fort McClellan AL. Since I passed a typing test in basic, I started as a Permanent Party-no AIT (Advanced Individual Training).
I had packed all the wedding gifts on top of our 1965 Pontiac Star Chief. Not SMART. DAMN DUMB! About twenty minutes out of town (I was driving slow knowing that we had the precious cargo on board — no not the dog and cat).
Then a semi-tractor trailer flew by and pulled all of my carefully packed gifts off the car and into a ditch.
Becky’s parents helped pick up the mess, and I called to the fort requesting extended leave time to recoup.
This time we UPS’d the boxes to the base and drove unimpeded to the next stop. This was an unplanned stop south of Chicago.
We got through Chicago not taking the toll roads. Dark roads.
Just south of Chicago we ran into a rainstorm. I mean a RAINSTORM!
We had to stop at a motel. We checked in, hiding the cat and dog. We locked them in the bathroom. The cat puked in the bathtub and the dog was quiet.
The next day we started through the caves of Kentucky. We stopped to check out the tourist attraction. We couldn’t afford to go down this famous landmark and parked in the lot so we could pass the night sleeping in the car.
It rained. No, it poured!
The next day we made it to Fort McClellan AL. We checked in at the fort Personnel Department. The guy I had spoken to on the phone
SSgt. Drexel Walker told me how to check-in at headquarters company, collect some pay and find an apartment off base.
He became a good friend and mentor.
Now, what I did with my time at Fort McClellan Alabama I have kept to myself most of the time.
I worked at my desk. I served KP (kitchen police to you civilians) and guard duty. Guard duty at Fort McClellan, at least as I knew it, meant standing your assigned post at the chemical bunkers.
Fort McClellan was not only home to the WACs (Women’s Army Corps) but also the U.S. Chemical Corps.
Starting in 1997 my health started going downhill. That is the year I had a quadruple bypass.
The accountant, when I went back to work about a month later, asked if I was OK. “Yes, I am much better than I was before.” I let him figure it out.
After Spec 5 Igram left, I was in charge of the Levy Section. Levy was the polite Army was of saying we cut the orders that moved soldiers, WACs, and officers to a different duty station around the country aka, INTRACONUS, and overseas.
In January there were whole companies on the move to Germany known as I recall, “Reforge”.
It was the other orders that keep me awake at night and I hope anyone else that worked on overseas orders.
It wasn’t hard until I met a soldier that was going back to Vietnam. He told me stories. And they may have just been stories, there are more than a few
kooks in military service. One story he loved to tell was about taking VC (Viet Cong as opposed to RVN, Republic of Vietnam, i.e. North Vietnamese troops) up in a helicopter to interrogate them. The method was simple “Tell us what we want to know or we’ll throw you out the door”.
Oh, you don’t think American boys were capable of that and more?
How about My Lai or Son My as in Vietnamese or My Lay 4 as the infantry knew the hamlet?
A book by Herbert Kelman and V. Lee is sub-titled “Military Crime of Obedience”.
You may all be too young to remember Lt. Calley who led his troops in My Lai.
I remember. And a lot more.
My job in this man’s army was as Levy Clerk. A 21-year-old Spec 4 had the job of sending countless men and women to their deaths.
If you have never watched “Apocalypse Now” or the most recent “Apocalypse Now — Final Cut”, I recommend you do so. If you ever want to understand how 550,000+ men and women spent their youth then you much watch one of these movies.
If you want to understand how 57,939 U.S. citizens and from 200,000 to 250,000 South Vietnamese, and 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong and 2 million civilians died in a war that lasted from 1954 to 1975 you have a lot of studying to do.
There are 40 pages of books on the Vietnam War listed in Wikipedia alone. It doesn’t list the total number of books.
I wrote a post on Vietnam “Blood Money —
“keep the Tiny Humans Alive”.
But I did not confess the struggles I have had since.
And I probably won’t since this article is about my time in the Army.
I don’t even know how to start that one.
I am sitting here typing at 3:18 AM. I polished off more than a quart of Mexican Mudslide by Chi-Chis much earlier.
I suffered what I consider a major traumatic event two weekends ago. My wife and I were counting customers going into the shops in a strip mall for the manager of our apartment building.
I jerked forward and told my wife to go to the hospital. I then probably hollered — “NOW”. Emergency room-FAST.
She doesn’t understand the meaning of the word — fast when I use it. But I was hurting too much to tell her to SPEED! DAMMIT!
She was coming up on a clinic of the hospital we go to and she asked if we should stop in here? Yes.
She went inside to get a wheelchair and a nurse came out. He said he had worked in the emergency room so I trusted him. It hurt so much I could barely breathe.
He said an ambulance was on the way. If it hadn’t hurt so much
I would have been relived.
Then I thought, maybe they will give me some fentanyl.
For a change, the ambulance was there promptly. But just now I remembered we live in Duluth, not Proctor. The firehall is only a few blocks away instead of five miles up the hill.
I couldn’t stand up so they had a cool tool to get me from the car to the gurney.
Once in the ambulance, the tech started working on me. An IV, air lots of questions — this wasn’t my first trip, so I knew the drill.
Did I say I was screaming at the top of my lungs? It hurt so BAD.
I thought the ride was smooth, so I complimented her and the driver.
“We haven’t even started yet”. We must have been sitting still for at least an hour I thought.
We finally got going. Now the bumps were atrocious.
I wrote an email to the mayor as soon as my wife brought my laptop. I just now thought I could have used my phone but….
We finally got to the ER. I told the nurses — NO DEFIBRILLATING ME! NO!
The ER doctor asked me three times if he could defibrillate me. No, No, No. How dumb is he?
The nurse trying to put the IV in was having a hard time. He tried three times! I asked why he didn’t use my inner elbow where he could see the arteries.
“Oh, we don’t put them there.” Huh!
When I got up to the room, I saw that someone had put the IV in my right arm in the inner crook of my elbow!
I asked what the hell was taking so damn long — still screaming at the top-notch of my voice.
We are waiting for a cardiologist. OK.
The issue besides the excruciating pain in my chest was that my internal defibrillator had not activated.
The cardio guy should up, gave me two shots of lidocaine and
bam! it activated with the shock I knew from an earlier time sitting on my couch.
Thus began the absolute worst time I have spent in the hospital.
Oh yeah, I had suffered for over an hour and one-half with ventricular tachycardia — an elephant was sitting on my chest and was squeezing hard as it could with its trunk.
I still don’t know how to start the next article.
Thanks for stopping.