US Army-1957

1957-US Army





“I got drafted in 1957. I had to go to Fort Jackson, SC. They could keep you in the Army for two years. When I first got there, they put everybody through a bunch of tests. I scored the highest in my group in marksmanship and got designated ‘expert’. They put all the experts in one group and got you to shoot every day. I became the expert of all the experts. I’ve always liked competition and the harder it is, the better I like it. Back then they did a lot of boxin’ and wrestlin’ on them bases. I didn’t like boxin’ too much, but I don’t think I ever lost a wrestlin’ match.


“I also scored the highest on the PT tests. They said they’d never had anyone score highest in both categories. That got the officers to start takin’ a special interest in me. I wouldn’t so sure I wanted any of that attention because my goal was to get out of there in two years. I qualified for paratrooper school, but you had to stay in for three years to finish paratrooper trainin’. I told ’em, “I ain’t interested in doin’ that.”


All the officers ever talked about was Korea. One officer, who was a Green Beret in Korea, kept pullin’ me aside tellin’ me, “A man like you could have a good future in the Army.”


He explained that in Korea, they needed expert marksmen to take out Chinese communists shootin’ them big fifty caliber machine guns. Somebody had to get ’em and that was usually the best rifle shot in the company and the smaller and more mobile you were, the better.”


I told him, “I appreciate it, but I just don’t think I can do it because I like to fish too much.”


Fort Gordon, Georgia


“After basic training, I got a little time off and when I went back, I was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia. On weekends I drove to Santee Cooper and fished. I’d see people in boats, but I never saw nobody wadin’. I applied that ‘Grenada technique’ at Santee Cooper, throwin’ that spinner bait beside ever stick up, and man you can’t believe how many big bass I caught. I’d just sleep out there on the ground.


Fort Gordon is only about a hundred miles from Fort Jackson. That officer would drive down there still tryin’ to get me to sign up for longer. I respected him and didn’t want to disappoint him. I told him it was not because I didn’t like the Army or was afraid of combat, but it was really about the fishin’. He could never understand that. I finelee’ got him to go fishin’ with me and taught him how to wade and cast. He couldn’t wade too good, but he started catchin’ bass too and we became good friends. I think that helped him understand what I’d been tryin’ to tell him.”


Before Vietnam, pressure was put on Congress to cut the military because it was costin’ the country a lot of money. They passed a bill to trim the military by about 30 percent or somethin' like that. Because we had become friends, that officer helped speed things up for me. I don’t know whatever happened to him, he was a very good man. I got my discharge papers and I never saw him anymore after that.”

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