US Army Retired

US Army Retired

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Personal View of the Nevada Caucus

(A bit of an aside from the story of my first enlistment)

Various dictionaries define a caucus as a meeting or assembly of people with shared concerns within a political party.

Was that what happened in Nevada yesterday?

Not in my view.

I arrived at the polling place about a half hour after the doors opened. The line was huge. A young man in line just ahead of me said he 'd counted about 260 people in line ahead of us. (There appeared to be no separate line for old gimps like me, so I just settled in for the ordeal. I didn't see a single person turn around and leave due to the expected wait.)

An hour and a half later, I reached the door and a young man in a suit asked to see my voter registration card. He then pointed me to a table with a volunteer – one of many. She checked my card and had me show my photo ID, very carefully comparing it with my card. She then found the precinct book and my name so I could sign on the dotted line. Only then did she give me my ballot – a simple sheet of paper with the names of the candidates in alphabetical order. She told me to look around to find the table with my precinct number on it as she had no idea where it was. Fortunately, it was close and I walked over. Another volunteer stood there with envelopes. I checked my choice on the ballot and she had me drop it into the proper envelope.

I was done and my dear wife – who is not a citizen but was waiting just inside the door to help me to the car – and we left.

That was it! No candidate reps. No discussions other than what we held while in line. And no campaigning. Not one bit different than any other election I've ever participated in.


First, it was in no way, shape, or form what the definition of a caucus says it should be.

I've already see whining of “voter fraud” from Leftist reporters and talking heads on TV. Bullshit! Unlike the Dimbocraps where everyone just showed up, did not have to show ID or proof of already being registered in the party, the Republican party affair was one of the most legitimate one I've ever seen. EVERY SINGLE VOTER WAS SCRUTINIZED AND HAD TO PROVE THEIR ELIGIBILITY BEFORE VOTING.

I thought it was going to be a time to select delegates to the county caucus coming up next. I learned that a young man in line with me had already registered as a delegate. Paying $40 to do so! He had to pay to be a delegate? What was that all about? That was nowhere in anything I could find online. He couldn't explain why or what it entailed only that he had been required to sign a document stating he would represent the will of the voters of the precinct or he could face prosecution.

Who was there to vote? I live in North Las Vegas and there is a reasonable minority population. They were almost entirely absent at the caucus. Those there were clearly veterans and most of their wives were Asian – and citizens. And, from listening to those in line, most were there to make it known they prefer a Republican over Bernie or Shrillary. Every single one of them was disappointed and disgusted with Obama and his policies. They will clearly support ANY GOP candidate.

Everyone I talked to also said this was a big turnout compared to previous ones.

And finally, after so much time in line, I simply couldn't hang around to see if there was going to be an actual caucus. I was disappointed but, as there were no candidate reps and almost less than a handful of GOP regulars, I don't think I missed anything.

As for the results. Others told me and I saw it for myself on TV that the ballots were counted by one person and verified by two others with an observer there. And, just plain citizens stood around to make sure everything was up and up. I am secure that my vote was counted and tabulated properly. I also know the envelope with the actual ballots will be taken to the GOP headquarters to ensure their validity.

Unlike the Dimbocrap debacle, I personally feel the GOP caucuses were fair and free of voter fraud. MY VOTE IS GOING TO COUNT.

So, who did I vote for? No secret to anyone who's seen my previous post – the one who will cause the widest number of people to show up in November ensure that the Dimbocrap nominee doesn't win – The Donald.

And, it says something that the supposed “hometown” of Rubio didn't give him more support.

On to November!

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Old Fort Ord Hospital

The hospital was located in the older part of Fort Ord where the in-processing center was. The buildings were converted WWII barracks with ramps connecting them.

I spent the first couple of days in bed, a tube stuck in my arm with something dripping into my veins from one of those plastic bags hung on a wheeled metal pole. I wore a stupid robe that tied in the back and leaves your buns open to the world. I had a blue cotton robe to put over that and blue slippers so I could make my way to the latrine.

There were three of us to start but it didn’t take long until the ward was full and they had to expand it to the one next door. As nobody quite understood what was wrong with us, we were quarantined and the staff wore masks. Fortunately, some docs came from a lab back east and quickly diagnosed us as having a new and very virulent version of influenza. That’s when we first heard of Asian Flu.

It wasn’t a case of lying around and doing nothing. Even with the IV’s in our arms, we were expected to keep things clean to include mopping the floors and daily exchanging our linen. We had a color television set and plenty of books. A community area had card tables with lots of game and puzzles. That’s where I learned more about Pinochle and, although I thought I knew how to play poker, I soon learned I didn’t!

The hardest part of the whole thing was the regular blood-letting. The nurses came through three times a day to take blood samples. I never knew there were so many places to find veins from which to take my blood. And, I remember more than once actually sticking the needle into my own veins to draw blood when the nurse was busy with another patient.

They released me - at last. Of course, my original company had graduated so I was sent to another, one week along in the cycle.

I'd exercised once the IV was gone. Most of that was walking the endless halls with occasional things like sit-ups and push-up. So, I wasn’t that out of shape. Within a day or so, I was back up to speed with the daily calisthenics.

The new Drill Sergeant was very different than my first - he got right in your face and let loose a string of epithets to turn one’s ears red. I had no idea such profanity existed - difficult after having heard it from the adults I grew up around.

At least he spotted my proficiency with the Manual of Arms. He assigned me to the company drill team where I learned some of the truly fancy moves such as the one below.

They, of course, didn’t start us out with bayonets on our weapons! That would’ve been suicide.

When they at last took us to the rifle range, I was not surprised when I managed to qualify as an Expert. That earned me the right to familiarize myself with the M-1 Carbine and I also qualified Expert with that.

The rest of training went without a problem. My time on the ranch helped me to go through all the other stuff such as crawling through The Pit, on our backs with our weapons on our chest, going under barbed wire with a machine gun firing live rounds over us. I looked forward to going through the field exercises and training. And, when they got to the point of taking us on five and ten mile hikes, I enjoyed them.

If it hadn’t been for latrine duty, kitchen police and guard duty, basic training would have been almost enjoyable.

The best thing about basic was making friends. Not only with the guy in the bunk above or below, but the rest of the squad and platoon.

This is where I’m going to show one of my major failings - I can’t, for the life of me, remember the names of any of the guys I served with! I can close my eyes and see their faces. I can remember us doing things together. It becomes worse as I think towards the end of my military career but we won’t go through that here.

Young soldiers

[The above is only an example of the uniform I wore. The patch on the shoulder was different at Fort Ord but is the one I wore at Fort Belvoir. I know I had to look that young and it makes me smile. Ah but the years go by so fast!]

This is the Sixth US Army shoulder patch.

At last, it came time to complete our training. I was very surprised when Duple [the woman I’d known all my life as my grandmother] showed up. She’d ridden the Greyhound bus up from Los Angeles and was in the stands for the graduation ceremony. I’d already packed my things and had my orders to the Army Engineer School at Fort Belvoir. So, once the parade was over, I gathered up my duffel bag and went with her on an army bus to downtown Monterey. There were several buses that went each graduation day to the bus terminals [Trailways also operated back then], the train station and the airport.


Step One was over. Now on to the next!

Advanced Individual Training

(For those unaware, there are two types of teaching soldiers a variety of skills. The technical skills are taught at schools similar to trade schools. The ones more easily learned come from On The Job Training.)

It was a strange bus ride home from Fort Ord. Duple knew how angry I was with her and we spoke little during the long ride. We stopped once or twice to stretch and eat. Otherwise, she stared out at the passing countryside while I did something all soldiers are trained to do - take advantage of the chance to sleep and rest.

Basic training changed everything for me at home. The house was the same, the neighbors greeted me as if I hadn’t been away, and I got some smiles for wearing my uniform. And, everyone greeted me with handshakes and hugs when I went to church. The youths I'd known were now grown up and had far different interests. But, the house was different. Smaller somehow. And restrictive.

But, the biggest change came when I went out to Redlands. Having no car, I took the Greyhound. The people were nice and the Lunts waited for me at the bus station. The other guys my age were gone but the young gathered around, curious about what it had been like to go through basic. However, the greatest change was at the Wednesday evening church social event. None of my old buddies were there! Ned and Donald were up in Utah attending college and Tom was involved in working with his father. And, the girls, while very nice, had their eyes on other guys.

Against my will, I made the visit I dreaded; with the man I had thought was my father. Jack [he was no longer Dad to me] and Kit were far more interested in their little girl. Patty looked at me as a big brother but that didn't ease the anger and hurt I felt at having been lied to.

It was with a great deal of relief that I packed my things and headed for LAX. I had never flown in anything but the WWII trainer my mother and her boyfriend had died in. The Boeing-C7 looked impressive out of the window of the terminal. But, the sleek Connie caught my eye. Something about the three rudders and aerodynamic nose spoke of safety and speed. Even then, boarding the more mundane Boeing was enough of an adventure.

I seem to remember our landing twice on the way to Washington, D.C. - I have no idea where. I was seated next to a man who'd served in Korea and he was extremely nice to a new recruit, as he could tell from my uniform. He gave up his window seat so I could sit transfixed to catch glimpses of the country passing below through breaks in the clouds. It seemed totally different from the land I had passed through in a stake bed truck the previous year and the one before that.

Arriving at Washington National Airport told me right away my vacation was over and I was back in the army. A huge sign directed all military personnel to a special section of the terminal. Once there, another sign segregated the officers from the enlisted personnel. A Specialist Five grumbled for a copy of my orders, then pointed me to a waiting area. “A bus for Fort Belvoir will be here at thirteen hundred hours. Make sure you're on it.”

The area was run by the USO and had a lot of amenities for military personnel. There were all sorts of military types there; Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. We tended to gather in our own groups and I found the ones waiting to go to Belvoir. We chatted about where we came from and, when I said Redlands, one of the guys grinned and came over, offering his hand. “I'm from Redding. Everybody gets the two mixed up.”

His name was Harold and I had no idea then that we'd be spending well over two years together.

I'd been to the Washington area a couple of years earlier with my Boy Scout Troop so it wasn't that strange to me. The bus arrived and we all loaded on, Harold and I sitting next to each other. I was able to point out a few things as we drove, even remembering where Mount Vernon was.

Of even greater surprise was learning Harold and I would attend the same school for Engineer Equipment Maintenance. He had worked on such stuff in his hometown, growing up in an area with a lot of timber.

Advanced Individual Training (AIT) was far different from Basic in many ways. But, in others, it was similar. Daily PT followed by breakfast, then off to class. I must tell you that, although it's been a whole lot of years, I remember how well the material was presented to us.

We not only had classroom work but they took us out into the field and taught us how to operate each piece of equipment. To me, that was the best part of all. The reason was simple – how could we fix 'em if we didn't know what they were supposed to do? Sitting up there on the seat of a massive bulldozer, guiding it with two handles and the brake pedals was fun as I'd done the same on a smaller version on the ranch.

And the classroom work was also hands-on as pieces of equipment were laid out before us and we took them apart and put them back together. It was like learning to field strip a rifle. We only took them apart enough to clean, oil and replace the major parts.

Barracks life was somewhat different but we still stood foot and wall locker inspections, had GI Parties cleaning the area to include latrines, pulled Sentry Duty and – yes! - Kitchen Police. But, we were there to learn how to fix some serious pieces of equipment and that was what they had us concentrate on.

Harold and I graduated number one/two from the class (He was #1 having spent his youth working in a lumber mill) and were selected to go on to more advanced training. And then, I got an introduction to something my life in Southern California had not prepared me for – a major, road-closing snow storm. I awakened in the middle of the night to visit the latrine. I glanced out of the barracks window, amazed to see nothing but white. It wasn't that cold inside but someone went into the basement and fired up the oil-fueled heater.

We couldn't fall out for Revile as the snow had piled up and sealed the ground floor doors shut. Some guys from upstairs went down the outside staircase where someone from the post engineers met them with shovels. They had used bulldozers to clear snow from the streets. As soon as we got out, we were put to work with snow shovels. Even with hundreds of us working, it took at least a couple of hours before we could make our way to the mess hall.

VA Blizzard

It continued to snow all day, that night and the next two days. We had heavy overcoats, boots and gloves, so more than a thousand soldiers were kept busy shoveling sidewalks and roads. The rough part was that the entire fort was cut off from the rest of the area. Virginia state workers couldn't clear the major highway so lots and lots of civilians were stranded.

And yes, the mess halls ran low on food to cook. So, a warehouse was opened and we all ate K-Rations and C-Rations. At least we had the mess halls to heat our food and drink.

Harold and a lot of the others just shrugged it off. Ah yes – Army life.

Once everything was cleared away, it stopped snowing and we went back to learning how to be heavy construction equipment mechanics. Once again, Harold and I finished numbers one and two in the class. We even learned we were being sent to Europe to the same outfit. We didn't know where, only that it was a separated platoon of an Engineer Field Maintenance Company.

Off to Europe!

Sunday, February 7, 2016


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.

Garrison Cap

Church Call was held after breakfast. They provided buses 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:

Side Bender

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.

Toe Touch
Second exercise, the Toe Touch.

Side Straddle Hop

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.

Trunk Twister

The fifth exercise, the Trunk Twisters

Leg Lift

The sixth exercise, the Leg Lift. (And no, we didn't have mats to protect us from the concrete of the parade area.]

Flutter Kick

The seventh exercise, the Flutter Kick.


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

Sit Up

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 came over and order the faltering ‘Cruits to gather up their covers and blouses and to fall in before the formation.

Squat Thrust

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.

Squat Thrust

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

Push Ups

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.

Run in Place

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 that 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.

Afterward, 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.


[In doing research for these articles, to illustrate the various moves is probably the hardest I’ve found in writing this.]

We gathered up our weapons and fell out in the company street under the watchful eye of our Drill Sergeant. As we settled into formation, he went through the platoon showing each of us how to properly sling our weapon on the right shoulder. He then spent the next half hour running us through the various parade drills.

We weren’t alone. The other four platoons were going through the same drills. I couldn’t help but notice ours was the only Drill Sergeant who didn’t scream and swear. It wasn’t that he wasn’t tough and didn’t make “drop and gimme twenty” but that he did it in a civilized manner.

Manual of Arms

My military school training once again helped as I somehow remembered all the commands and what to do. I managed to find my left and right and even felt comfortable on what foot to start with when we were finally told to turn left, then “Fooo-wahd MARCH!” down the street and into the large parade ground.

We spent the entire morning going through moving the weapon from one position to another. The Drill Sergeant spotted me right away and stood me in front of the formation as his demonstrator of how the various moves were supposed to be done.

That earned me a lot of comments out of the sides of mouths about being a “brown noser” and other, slightly more profane comments. But, it didn’t bother me. In fact, it earned me the position of being appointed the first squad leader with a brassard bearing a Private First Class stripe. That didn’t really earn me anything more than a whole lot more attention from the cadre members. I was expected to be “more GI” than anyone else. It also didn’t exclude me from the Extra Duty List.

We put our weapons back in the bay before going to lunch. Afterward, we were marched to a huge hanger-like building where we sat on hard chairs and spent the afternoon listening to sergeants reciting their subjects and watching a bunch a grainy US Army Training films. [nowadays they have real fancy training videos with all the graphics and stuff.] The films were all black and white ,but some with very good footage.

This proved to be our basic routine for the first week of training. calisthenics, breakfast, parade drill, lunch, lectures, the flag lowering, dinner and working on our things in the squad bay. That often meant all of us cleaning the latrine and hand-polishing the floors.

It was during that first week that I was introduced to Kitchen Police.


The cadre called him Cookie. We ’Cruits stood nervously as he introduced us to that huge area behind the serving tables. It was hot. And steamy. With lots and lots of very hot, sudsy water. The pictures we’d all seen of a soldier sitting on a stool peeling onions proved totally untrue. They had machines to do most of the preparation like that and it was up to us ‘Cruits to keep them clean. And the mess sergeant was gonna make damned sure they were clean.

The Assistant Drill Sergeant roused those of us selected for KP two hours before revile. We were sorted out and assigned to various areas of the massive kitchen, about half sent out to clean the dining area. We quickly learned how much work went into feeding a little over 500 young men with large appetites after all the exercising, marching, drilling and instruction. Nobody would ever mistake it for a five-star dining establishment but the food was healthy and designed to keep up our energy.

The one duty that confused me was Sentry Duty. We all had to memorize the following General Orders:

1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.

2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.

3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.

4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guardhouse than my own.

5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.

6. To receive, obey, and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the Commanding Officer, Duty Officer, and Officers and Noncommissioned Officers of the watch only.

7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty.

8. To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.

9. To call the Corporal of the Guard in any case not covered by instructions.

10. To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.

11. To be especially watchful at night and during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post, and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.
[As I understand it, in today’s “sissy” army that doesn’t recite all eleven, they only have THREE General Orders to memorize.]

But, here was my problem; we were on a massive army post completely surrounded by high barbed wire fences. Every singly entry was guarded by armed Military Policemen. The fort housed thousands of soldiers, not just recruits but many who’d been hardened by service in Korea and even the Big Deuce. Why on earth did they need some wet-behind-the-ears private marching around with a weapon with no bullets in it? Yeah, I know. It was to prepare us for The Real Thing.

Actually, sentry duty didn’t bother me. We were outside in the cool evening air with salty breezes blowing inshore from Monterey Bay. The air was clear and one could spend the hours making special forms out of the starry sky. And, it was really beautiful when the moon hung huge above.

Alas, my training only last another week. One day, while standing at Attention in formation, I keeled over. Didn’t see it coming. One minute, listening to the military music aware of being surrounded by my fellow trainees. The next, being loaded into an ambulance to be carried to the base hospital.

I learned I was among a group of trainees who had succumbed to the Asian Flu, a brand new form that had appeared on the West Coast out of nowhere.

And, for the next two months, I learned what it was to be a human guinea pig. They took blood samples morning, noon and night, explaining it was to find a vaccine to prevent it spreading further.

Great. I spent the days wandering around the ward, the hospital Day Room and Library - after mopping floors, square cornering my bed and whatever little tasks they could find for us patients. At least no KP or Sentry Duty.