US Army Retired

US Army Retired

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


We fell out for the Sunday morning flag-raising in our khaki uniforms. Even without any of the ribbons and badges worn by the veterans, it looked kinda good with the shiny lapel US tabs and the Sixth US Army patch. Instead of the “Flying Saucer” we were told to wear our garrison caps.

Church Call was held after breakfast. They provided busses for those who wished to go to services, one for Catholics, another for Protestants and even one for Mormons. I guess because we were in California there were enough of us to merit one. Before and after the service, I met a couple of guys who had gone to the church in Los Angeles I grew up in so I didn’t feel so all alone and isolated. We didn’t get to socialize as they were almost in their eighth week, far ahead of me.

Sunday supper was a pretty good meal with roast beef and baked potatoes, if I remember right. We then had the remainder of the day to relax until evening Retreat and meal. I seems to remember sitting in the Day Room to watch baseball.

We got down to business Monday morning. As soon as the flag had been raised, we were ordered to remove our caps and blouses for the morning Daily Dozen Calisthenics. Our DI carefully showed us each move before starting it. We did twelve four-count repetitions of each of the following:

First exercise, the Side Bender -

And, we were told to count ALOUD!

“What is wrong with you, ’Cruits? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

So, the, “One. Two, Three and One. One, Two, Three and Two” echoed between the two massive buildings as several hundred men voiced the cadence until twelve repetitions were completed.

Second exercise, the Toe Touch -

The third exercise, the Side Straddle Hop [I thought about this all night! I'm certain we called them Jumping Jacks, but that was probably too non-PC for today's military]  -

By this time, my heart was going along at a good pace and I enjoyed the chill morning air off the ocean filling my lungs.

The fourth exercise, the Windmill -

A couple of “City Boys” were finding keeping up difficult and received some kindly urging by the Cadre members there to keep an eye on us.

The fifth exercise, the Toe Touch -

The sixth exercise, the Leg Lift -

The seventh exercise, the Flutter Kick -

The eighth exercise, the Crunch [although I think it had another name in the late '50s]

The ninth exercise, the Sit-up. We took turns, each one holding the others' feet until the twelve repetitions were completed. Both of us shouted cadence. This was where about half our platoon just about had all they could deal with. A cadre member would come over and order the faltering ‘Cruit to gather up their cover and blouse to fall in before the formation.

The tenth exercise, the Squat Thrust - There were two types of these but we didn’t get to the harder ones until after two weeks.

By now, well over half of our platoon and no few from the others were formed up behind the company formation.

The eleventh exercise, the 8-count push-up -

I seem to remembering making it through all but the last few repetitions before I had to sort of cheat and go only half-way up and down. By this time, out of 160 of us in the company, no more than two dozen were still going.

The twelfth exercise, the Run-in place. We even kept cadence to this but did twenty-four four-count repetitions.

It took many years for me to realize the subtle psychology and cunning physiology behind these exercises. Each step was designed to loosen us up and tone certain muscles we would need in the combat arms. The shouting cadence took one’s mind off one’s own efforts and made us feel a part of something bigger - a team. Completing the full Daily Dozen gave each of us a sense of accomplishment, a feeling we could do anything we set out minds to.

At the same time, those who dropped out were united with others who looked on while the rest of us continued as a team. It made them want to be as good as we were and gave them a benchmark to set themselves against.

Of course, the quitters and “I can’ts” were slowly weeded out. And, the DIs and cadre members set out to help those in bad shape to catch up.

Having lived on the ranch and enjoying gym class in school, I didn’t have a lot of problems with any of the exercises - except push-ups. That surprised me as I thought I was strong in the arms.

From that morning on, we never “walked” anywhere. It was either in March Step or, most often, Double Time.

Afterwards, we were dismissed to shower and change into clean fatigues, showing why we’d been issued three of everything. From there, it was breakfast followed by our real introduction to training - The Manual of Arms and How to March - Coming next.


  1. Amazing how things like flutter kicks and eight counts are now considered pariah. They say they injure too many people. Of course, I'm of the mind that if you're not limbered and warmed up enough, any exercise will do that.

    And going to church in basic training? Even the most hardened atheists and agnostics found religion. Or at least they found a place where we weren't beat all to hell for a couple of hours every week. Ah, the bliss of killing time in basic training church services.

  2. Our instructors called them "Jumping Jacks".
    (I thought the "Side-straddle hop" was one of the things we did in our PT test.)
    But my memory is blurry these days...
    I found your site looking for "The Daily Dozen". My 12 exercises in the mid '60's were a little different than yours, but not by much.

    1. Talk about blurry ...

      I found a park website where people commented on their time serving at The Presidio of San Francisco. I had to dig back into some old files so I could remind myself when I served there.

      It's really tough getting old - ain't it?