In the wee hours of the morning 45 years ago my buddy Gary and I caught three buses to Ft. Wayne in Detroit, where we were inducted into the Army on the buddy system.
After our physicals (cough), taking of the oath ("to preserve, protect, and defend..") and other processing we were on our way to Ft. Knox in Kentucky to begin our 8 weeks of basic training.[ "A-19-5, the best damn Company in USATCA" ]
Our motives for enlistment were (1) Testosterone /Boredom (2) Avoidance of the draft and a dreaded assignment to the infantry [ during the Vietnam era that occupation was called "11 Bump" for a reason]. (3) The post service use of the GI bill to pay for college [presuming of course that you were still around for that post service period].
While it was a big gamble my military service paid off for me:
- I lost 40 pounds in 8 weeks of basic training and got physically fit for the first time in my life.
- The GI bill helped me pay for college. Along with two scholarships and work while in college this meant that I had zero debt when I graduated.
- I went to Vietnam and came back with a minimum of personal trauma and my first exposure to living conditions in the third world.
- I served with guys from all around the country; most were working class guys like myself, including working class minorities.
- During my R+R's from Vietnam, I got to travel to Bangkok and Sydney and when I extended I got to come home on leave and spent 1 1/2 months with friends during the summer of 1968.
- I got out of the Army early because I extended my tour in Vietnam; I was out of the service and home before I turned 21, started college the next month, and graduated 3 1/2 years later.
- A year after I graduated, after service as a Welfare worker in inner city Detroit, I started my HUD career in Detroit in July 1973.