Saturday, May 21, 2011

Armed Forces Day

We played at an Armed Forces celebration today. It was a fun gig, but I was thankful we played in the morning, because here in Alabama we pretty much skipped spring. We went straight from very chilly weather, to it being hot as a Waffle Housse grill.
As we sat in the audience after we played, my mind wandered a bit, and it occurred to me that 40 years ago this week, I too was in the Armed Forces. 
I was at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in basic training. It was warm during the daytime, and at nights I swatted mosquitoes as big a bats.
It seems like I ran the length of Kentucky a dozen times while I was there. I also learned some snappy marching tunes.
A yellow bird
A yellow bill
Landed on, my window sill
I lured him in, 
With crumbs of bread
And then I stomped his little head (except we used a dirty word instead of little). I still smile at the memory.
Basic was an interesting place. At night when we got to sleep in the baracks, you'd often hear guys talking after the lights went out. They'd talk about their families, their girlfriends, and what they wanted to do when they got out of the Army.
I listened, but I didn't talk a lot.  Some of the guys were apprehensive about where they'd go after basic. Some wanted to go to Vietnam, some wanted to go anywhere but there.
What most of the guys didn't know was that what came after basic depended upon how well you did on the battery of tests they gave us. 
If you scored high in one area, you might be a cook, if you scored high in another area, you might be in artillery.  As it turns out, I scored high in communications, so in stead of heading off to gunnery school or infantry, I went to school to learn electronics.
When I got out of advanced training, they sent me to Panama. It was a tough gig being in what amounts to a tropical paradise.  
Exotic birds, coconuts, bananas, and mangos growing all around the baracks -- I wouldn't wish that on anyone. You would NOT believe the sunburn I had to endure on the beaches there.
Anyway, that's what I thought about today.


  1. Very interesting to read - thanks for sharing these reminiscences, Rick.

  2. Good for you for giving back when you had the chance.

    Glad you didn't have to go to Vietnam. Lots of my high school classmates were sent, and those who came back were never the same.

    Adn believe it or not, we had mosquitoes as big as bats right here in Nor. Calif.

    Happy weekend.

  3. I was newly married 40 years ago today. But I remember the winter of 1970 when I went to USO dances with my girlfriend and danced every single dance with a different well dressed, newly bald, very fit Army guy from Ft. Knox. It was a boon for a not beauutiful country girl.

    I had high school friends who went right after graduation and were dead by 1970. War, what is it good for?

  4. Awwww - that song is mean! LOL!!

    Of course you were in communications!!!

    Oh Panama sounds torturous! All that tropical fruit and beaches! But seriously! Well done you for doing your gig!! Take care

  5. Anonymous1:48 PM

    No matter how much non fun you had in your tropical paradise, I thank you for your service!


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