Free Or Not To Be Free? Welcome to the United States Army Part II


     Once we had finished our paperwork and received our orders we were transported to the airport, where we boarded a plane bound for Louisville, Ky. I had never been on a plane before, so I didn’t know what to expect. It was kind of exciting and scary at the same time. I thought to myself, “Look what I would have missed if I had stayed in school”.


     We left the airport in Lousiville, Ky. at around 2 a.m. to be transported to the reception area at Ft. Knox. We arrived there at around 3 a.m. There a sergeant was waiting for us. He had us fall out on a white line painted on the asphalt. He then said in a booming voice, “Welcome to the United States Army Training Center, Fort Knox, Kentucky”! After marching us over to supply and getting our bed linens. We were instructed to make our bunks and get some rest; because we would be seeing him again at 5 a.m. 


     Immediately after breakfast the next morning they marched us all over to the post barber shop. The army didn’t waste any time in lowering your ears to the Army’s standard of physical appearance. Some of the guys had shoulder-length hair that they had probably been nurturing over the past several years. Remember, this was the hippy generation and career soldiers hated hippies. The looks on some of their faces were one of anguish and pain. 


     For the next couple of days, we were marched from place to place to be processed into the Army officially. The days went quite fast as it seemed like a nonstop and almost endless process. After breakfast that first morning we were marched (I say marched, but it was more like disorganized walking) over to the warehouses that were lined up end to end to get our clothing issue. I remember the scent of mothballs was almost unbearable, and thought, “How do these guys keep on working here”? 

I should point out that at this time in history, the Army’s choice of color was olive drab. Walls, clothing, vehicles, paint lockers, etc. Everywhere you went there it was staring you in the face.  I believe if the Army had the know-how, they would have even colored the sky olive drab!


     Going from station to station I was amazed at how efficient it was, boots and low quarters at one, shirts and pants at the next, underwear and socks at the next, and on and on. At each station, we were asked for our sizes. The GI behind each counter would ask your size for that particular item of clothing and someone behind him would hustle off and retrieve it. If you didn’t give them the right size it was just too bad, at least for that day it was. We were then issued the exact number of that item;  pants (4 pairs olive green), fatigue shirts (4 pairs ), combat boots (2 pairs), Low quarters ( 1 pair), 6 white t-shirts, 6 white boxer shorts, 2 ball caps, 1 overseas caps (dress), etc. We were also issued a stencil with our names and serial numbers. Well, you get the picture, a total of around 60 different items all stuffed into a big olive green duffle bag which we were instructed to carry on our right shoulders as we marched back to our barracks.

     For the next few hours, we were given black markers to stencil every piece of clothing we had received, except for our socks and handkerchiefs. We then loaded our duffel bags onto a waiting truck to be taken to the laundry to be washed and name tags sewn on.


     Our dress uniforms and khakis were taken to the seamstress for alterations, where we were measured for a more uniform fit.


     After our clothing issue, we went for more tests both medical and academic. Of course, you didn’t get through medical without getting what seemed like an overabundance of shots. Believe me, we all felt like human pincushions when we left there. No one that evening was too energetic about anything. we just kind of laid around on our bunks and moaned and groaned. That night I was awoken by outbursts of men groaning in pain when they rolled over in their bunks…………and at least a couple of times it was me.


Next post-Basic Training.


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