Vietnam Montage Article

first medal


Here is another story from back in the mid-fifties

When I was a private in the army at Ft. Rucker. On Saturday mornings we generally had a class like “Character Guidance” or we would have an inspection in ranks, or, we would have a barracks inspection.
We lived in WWII wooden barracks, two floors, but with the latrine on the bottom floor. These were called temporary barracks, though they were “temporary” for a little over twenty years. We were permanent party…instructors…so the barracks weren’t quite as crowded as when we had been students. We had single bunks, seven on each side. The bunks were, by regulation, head to toe, meaning that one bunk had the pillow to the wall, the next bunk had the pillow to the center aisle. A wall locker was between each bunk, and a foot locker was at the end of the bunk closest to the center aisle, regardless of where the pillow was. The center aisle was framed between two lines of supporting posts, and on hanging on each of the posts was a red-painted coffee can filled with water. These were “butt cans” where cigarette butts were extinguished. 
On the wall of the barracks by the front door, there was a full length mirror, and beside it a life-sized picture of a soldier in uniform. The legend above the picture read: “A soldier looks the part.” There were arrows pointing to various parts of the uniform, each arrow reminding the soldier how to look the part. To the cap, (correctly positioned?) the collar brass, (shined?) the tie, (properly tied?) the gig-line (shirt buttons aligned with the edge of your belt buckle?) pants (properly creased?) shoes (well shined?)
On Friday night, before a barracks inspection, we had a “G.I. Party.” That meant sweeping, mopping, waxing, and then buffing the linoleum floor, emptying the butt cans, using a GI brush on the walls, window sills, washing the windows…and cleaning the same latrine our fathers had cleaned ten to twelve years earlier. (My father had been stationed here, only it was Camp Rucker then.)
We also had to have our wall lockers open for inspection…the uniforms hanging with the space between them exactly even. Two pairs of boots….well shined, under our bunks. The top tray of the footlockers had to all look exactly alike. This was our “display kit”…containing items we never used. A can of tooth powder, a shaving cup and a shaving brush, a razor, a folded handkerchief, a New Testament (Ha…didn’t see THAT coming, did you?) and a comb laid out just so, on the white towel on one side of the separated tray….boot socks, shoe socks, folded boxer shorts and tee shirts on the other side.
After the inspection, provided we passed, we were free for the weekend.
On Sunday mornings, three of us, Pounders, Taylor, and I would go to church. We went to a different church, in uniform, each week. We waited until the pastor would ask if there were any visitors, then we would stand and say that “We are soldiers at Ft. Rucker, a long way from home.”
This was in Alabama, and after the service that good old Southern Hospitality would kick in, and some family would invite us to their home for Sunday dinner. We did this at every church in Ozark, every church in Enterprise, Every church in Newton, and we were making a run on the churches in Dothan, when Pounders killed it.
“What are you serving?” he asked. “Because I’m getting pretty tired of baked chicken.”
I have to admit, I was beginning to feel sort of guilty about what we were doing anyway.

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