Dave Morgan’s First Day In The Army – February 19, 1970
Today, February 19 is the 44th anniversary of my first day in the U.S. Army. While I don't remember every detail, there a few things that really stick out about that day even now. I was reporting to AFEES, (Armed Forces Entrance and Examination Station) Ft. Wayne, Detroit. My dad dropped me off on his way to work as reporting time was probably like 6 or something like that in the morning. I imagine there were some sort of directions telling me where exactly to report.
It was a rather scary thing at the time, because I sure didn't want to go to Vietnam and get killed, but that is indeed where I ended up and almost got killed, but you can read about that elsewhere on this site.
The day was filled with tests of all sorts. Physicals, written exams and the like. I remember hoping I'd fail something so I would not have to go; needless to say, I passed everything. It wasn't a particularly stressful experience, except when staff told us that the Marines needed a certain amount of people and if not enough volunteered they'd be drafting guys.
Lunch time was my biggest trial. After biting into some sort of mystery meat, I decided I wasn't going, so I headed toward the gate. I got a few hundred yards when the cold Michigan air slapped me in the face and made me realize there was no place else to go. My dad was still at work, and he wouldn't have come to pick me up anyway; plus I probably wasn't going to be able to just walk out the gate.
Late in the afternoon we were put on a bus to the airport for a flight to Louisville, KY and then a bus trip to Fort Knox. It was well after dark when we arrived and probably about 2 or 3 in the morning before we were allowed to hit the sack. When we arrived, "in-processing" began. We were measured for clothing and issued all of our uniforms.
I remember being in the serving line in the mess hall when a drill sergeant stopped in front of me looking at my name tag then at a piece of paper he held. He then showed me that paper and asked if the person on that paper was me. Somehow, the last name on that paper wasn't quite mine, but all the other info was and he wanted to know what kind of stunt I was trying to pull.
Another incident that took place in the mess hall on our first full day at Ft. Knox involved a guy with long hair; it was 1970 after all, and some guys were wearing it long. A sergeant who was also eating there started harassing the guy to the point that the guy just finally had enough and said "f--- you". At that point, the sergeant's companions basically had to keep him from doing anything physical, but the sergeant did promise he'd catch up with him; and he did, eventually. At the evening "formation", the Army was big on formations, the sergeant appeared to call out the guy who dissed him at lunch. He couldn't be picked out, though, because we'd all been to the barber that afternoon and got same haircut. Unfortunately, a guy who was next to him pointed him out and he got to do some extra push-ups. Push-ups were good penalties in the Army.
After a few days of being in a "holding company" we were finally sent to our training company where Army life would begin in earnest. The rest is pretty uneventful, but it amazes me that those are things I remember about that day 44 years ago.