Uncomfortable Emergence……….#74 (the 50’s)

House call -  Master Sargeant Casserly

House call – Master Sergeant Casserly

       Recruiting Sergeant Casserly having returned, the husband of Gary’s Mothers good friend Alice Larson growing up in Yreka,  entering the Willson’s residence looking very astute in his dress uniform, carrying a loose-leaf binder the size of a one volume encyclopedia .   The recruiting Sergeant making a special house call to visit the recent high school graduate about the opportunities of  an Army enlistment.   Gary perceiving the stripes adorning the Sergeants uniform,  three up and three down as the rank of Master Sergeant, but not sure of what  the diagonal bars on the left sleeve and the horizontal bars on the right sleeve represented.  His only real military knowledge was extracted  from his visit with his Cousin Bud, reading books like Ernie Pyle Brave Men and then there was the fictional Hollywood  portrayal of basic training and military service.   The  weekly ABC and NBC television documentaries Crusade in Europe and Victory at Sea providing a realism of war.  His father having served in the second world war and on occasion would recapulate humorous accounts from his deployment on Saipan, Korea and Okinawa,  but always refraining from conveying the execrable events that he had witness.  Gary’s uniform curiosity getting the best of him finally asking Sgt. Casserly, the slanted service stripes, refered to as hash marks,  on the left sleeve were for years of service, each stripe representing three years, the horizontal bars on the right sleeve represented 6 months of overseas combat service.

NBC's hit series  Its opening theme Comper Richard Rodgers "Song of the high seas"

NBC’s hit series – Its opening theme Composer Richard Rodgers “Song of the high seas”

       The Sergeant’s presentation was somewhat reminisce of a school counselors,  attesting the MOS,  Military Occupational Specialty descriptions from the large manual,  explaining there were the two prerequisite in acquiring a MOS.   The first was determined by the scores attained on the  (AFQT) Armed Forces Qualification Test replacing the old (AGCT) Army General Classification Test,  including a battery of test equivalent to the  (SAT) Scholastic Aptitude Test for college entrance.   The second condition was that of occupational necessity and school availability.   Gary was interested in a MOS similar but not the same as his cousin Buds with missiles.  The potential recruit found it challenging to make a decision on an occupational  specialty mainly because of a lack of in-depth information.  The Sergeant having a up-to-date printout of MOS availability,  but discovering the scope of description in most part was limited to a few paragraphs of generalities.   Sergeant Casserly couldn’t detail the course of study but did ascertain that most army school were of eight or sixteen week durations, this missile electronic school was  ten months in duration plus an addendum nuclear warhead school.  Gary was taken aback, with eight weeks of basic training,  and over ten months month of study it would be well over a year before he would be scheduled for a duty station.  Sgt. Casserly pointing out that military class instruction was much different from the academic world of college, besides being paid, you’re in the army and subject to military discipline.
       The question was no longer pending, the youth being asked if he was ready to make the most important decision thus far in his life.  Gary unsure of what the future would bring if he remained at home,  recognizing that if he enlisted he wouldn’t have to cope with making many decisions.  He agreed on enlistment but because of his age, not having attained his 18th birthday his parents required to sign an underage  waiver, the youth scheduled not to be sworn-in but  to report for  a physical and qualification testing  before his 18th birthday. 

The Federal Building at 15th & Broadway in Oakland

The Federal Building at 15th & Broadway in Oakland

       The given day for his physical and qualification testing have arrived, Gary maneuvering his families recently purchased 56 Dodge Belvedere into the parking area of the Federal Building at 15th and Broadway, the location of the Armed Forces Induction Center.   Entering the building, the young high school graduate experiencing a feeling of solitude, alone, on his own, advancing one step at a time in a new unexplored world.   Directions finding him ushered into a room waiting to be called with others for a brief physical, no resemblance to  the stripped down wait inline examinations portrayed in the movies. Once completed  Gary relieved when certified as physically qualified, having a concern that his 113 lb.  weight may have prohibited his enlistment.    The testing area was a large room encompassing many tables, the military instructor serving notice that the  battery of timed test would take several hours,  and would pose questions concerning vocational skills as well as academic ones.    Gary just out of high school having taken final exams discovering no difficulty, especially with the math problems having traveled a 4 year journey on the road of algebra thru calculus.  A possible life changing day fulfilled, the youth returning home, relieved that it was over, a  sense of confidence residing. 

A  Greenly Dr. home destined to become a memory

A Greenly Dr. home destined to become a memory

      Sergeant Casserly making his final visit, Gary’s test scores having exceeded all requirements, including qualification for OCS, Officer Candidate School.  He was enrolled in a Corporal (missile) Electronic Material Maintenance Course,  the Army to notify him by mail the date to report for formal induction, the swearing-in ceremony and transportation to Fort Ord to begin 8 weeks of  basic training.    An uncomfortable feeling began to emerge, could it be the expediency of committment to a military enlistment, patience was fleeting as the days passed still waiting for his Call To Service date, the question lingered, were these feelings a residual of haste.  The daily 13 steps up to the mail box on Greenly Drive giving the youth a conscious new meaning to the past, a new aura of his surroundings, his family, the memories of home, the moments of elation,  the caliber of friendships, all would soon depart.   Gary reflecting that something was astray, questioning if his decision was the closing of a chapter in his life or just maybe the beginning page of a new one.


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