Tough guys - but not always mean. Our guy in Basic Training at Ft. Bragg made life miserable during PT and forced marches ( we went on a 10 mile march in sandy terrain in February and had thunder snow near the end of it - snowed so hard we had a hard time telling which barracks was ours when we got back), but we could tell he was concerned about us. He looked worried when our job titles were called out at the end of training and we were infantry knowing we were likely headed to Nam. Our platoon chipped in and bought him a bottle of his favorite Johnny Walker Red(or was it Black) when we graduated. At Ft. McClellan, Alabama the Sgt. had a voice like Carter from Gomer Pyle and had weird "drills" - one was started when he yelled"Tree Drill" and pointed to trees that we were required to get to as fast as possible and not be the last ones to get up a tree (lest we were self-appointed for extra duty for being last). Once, the "trees" we were supposed to climb were a couple of hundred yards away at the end of a firing range and were so small and riddled with bullets that not many would support anyone's weight. Another drill was his "Camo Drill" where he pointed to an area where we would have to conceal ourselves and the first ones he found had the upcoming duty - I learned the secret there was to run further away than the other guys so he would have to find them first. His favorite was when he yelled "Rabbit Drill !" and sent us into the woods to catch a rabbit - if we brought one to him we would gain special privileges. As you would expect, we never caught a rabbit but near the end of our time there, we found a dead rabbit along the road on a Sunday afternoon and decided to hide it near the barracks in the area where the rabbit drill was sometimes held. Luckily he had that drill the next morning and we emerged from the woods with the dead rabbit - had a hard time convincing him that it did not need to be alive to get the reward. My last Drill Sergeant experience was at Ft Jackson after I completed the "Shake-and Bake" NCO training and airborne school at Ft Benning and was a sergeant myself. While there I had to assist the real Drillmaster in a new session of Basic Training and he had to rate our potential as platoon leaders. A friend of mine saw his report on me on his desk and saw that he felt I would "never make a good sergeant since nothing ever seems to bother him". Compliments come in strange forms sometimes.
I was in the Army 6 years before going to Clemson on the GI Bill. Did both Basic and Infantry AIT at Ft. Jackson. After basic, all my platoon buddies were getting AIT orders for cool places like Sill, Leonard Wood, Knox, etc. I got to go down the street to complete AIT.
I was on Tank Hill in E-2-1 for Basic. SFC Kirby was one of our Drill Sergeants. About 6’ 4”, 250 pounds - his nickname was Sugar Bear - because he looked like one. On the times we did not get a cattle car ride to the range, we marched. The most dreaded words in the English language were “Route Step, March!” by him. What a stride! On the return march after a day at the range - marching back on the sand firetrails and up Drag ### Hill were brutal.
Ah, GREAT MEMORIES!
Actually, looking back, it was/is a great sense of accomplishment that comes because: ‘you did it’.
Clover can give first person account of number of draftees in Basic ‘during’ Viet Nam - but I’m certain they were the majority.
I graduated high school in ‘71 but had a high draft number so didn’t go in straight from school. After bumming around for a year, I had wrecked my car, was about to lose my job, and the Army was offering a $1500 enlistment bonus. Enough to cover the $1200 in damages to my car. So I enlisted, but the bonus was only for combat arms (infantry, artillery, or armor). My dad was a paratrooper, so airborne infantry was my choice. I enlisted in Aug 72. The majority of recruits were draftees (‘US’). Second was Natl Guard/Reserve (‘NG’). Last was ‘Regular Army’ (RA).
At chow, as you went through the line, just as you got to the mess check, you had to sound off with your classification. That would pretty much go: US - US - US - NG - US - NG and on. UNTIL I came up, when I would sound off with ‘RA’. The entire place would quiet down, and everyone would turn to look to see who was this ‘moron’ who VOLUNTEERED for this?! Someone would invariably comment/ask: “I can’t believe you actually signed up for this s**t!”. Yeah, I felt special.
As for treatment, we were ALL considered ‘sorry pieces of meat’, and I don’t recall any better or worse treatment because of status - only if you were a screwup. As for all the recruits, my experience was 98 or 99% of the guys I trained with were positive, smart, dedicated and damb fine Americans. We ALL bitched a LOT!
BTW: before I finished basic, in Nov ‘72, they stopped sending combat troops to Viet Nam. Having seen/heard stories of how it was there in the height of combat - when clover65® was there; and even the very latter days (70 and later) when the politicians were stalling on ending the war; I thank God that I didn’t have to go. One more reason I have such TREMENDOUS RESPECT and GRATITUDE to/for those that did go to Viet Nam.
After two years at Clemson had to sit out and and earn some money to return. I quickly got a notice to show at Ft Jackson for a physical. I had said what the hell, went to Charlotte and enlisted for 4 years. I was at Ft Bragg when I got my draft notice to report to Ft Jackson. They were too late.
You are correct - almost all of us were drafted - a couple of NG's and maybe one enlistee. Had a lot of York County guys as we were inducted at the same time in Charlotte - it was a warm day in February when we got on the bus for Bragg but after arriving we were processed and sent to a barracks without heat and it snowed that night. We hadn't got anything issued to us and there were no blankets in the old building so we almost froze to death the first night. It was on a Friday night and nobody came for us on Saturday morning to show us where breakfast could be found - we finally just stated wandering around until someone asked us what we were doing. Fun times.
And take off your gas mask , wait for the sergeant to ask you to give your name, rank,serial number, and request permission to leave the room? And it seemed like 5 minutes before he granted permission - good times indeed!
As to the gamecock who asked as to draftees, I served with many. I believe you are wrong, they were seldom more miserable than any one. I doubt any would trade their service experiences. The guys in the 60's were a different generation, less than the greatest generation that had come before, but mostly good guys. Sure, some went to Canada or Oxford, but most served proudly. You could not tell the difference in a soldier who joined or was drafted.
In the day all at Clemson all were required to take ROTC. On arrival at school your head was shaved and you were given an M-1 Rifle (no ammo). I later served in the Army as an Officer. The deal was like with draftees, and why I post as to it.
RA and US were different. To be an RA officer one had to come from West Point or The Citadel. After every military build up (like Nam), officers are culled. Only RA were guaranteed a place. Short story is staying in was risky in the day. I did like it all, fit my personality. There would be too many soldiers, too many officers. My next assignment was too be Captain over a small nuke unit in Turkey. I decided to opt out and come home. That worked out well for me.
Clover65 I hope you and Joe21 are putting books together about your military experiences. I look for post from all of you who share your stories and experiences.
I wish Tigernet would create a Military board so that more of the post like yours can be easily found.
My dad was a drill sergeant at Fort Benning Ga. in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I think he taught explosives. Just before the Vietnam War started heating up the Army offered my Dad a $10,000 bonus to reenlist for 3 or 4 more years. He was going to stay in but he was so in love with my mom he could not bear to leave her for extended periods of time. He said when he had to go on 2 week maneuvers he would get so down because his missed my mom so much. They were together for 64 years. Rarely did my dad do anything without my mom. Unfortunately she passed away in January 2019. So he has had some bad days since then.
I really am proud of every one who has ever served in our Military. However, I have a special respect for Vietnam veterans because LBJ made you fight with one hand tied behind your backs. IMO LBJ got more men killed or wounded because than the VC or the North regulars. LBJ tried to prosecute the war from the Oval Office. Plus he tried to fight the war politically instead of unleashing all we had on the enemy. Another reason Vietnam veterans are special is because of how you were treated when you came back to the states.
I am so glad you came back safely from Nam. I sincerely want thank you for taking the time to share your stories and experiences. ????????????