A Day Of Appraisement….#94 (the 60’s)



With the passing months, the day of appraisement approaching Willson was called to report to  the Discipline Barracks Judge Advocates office.  The staff officer informing him that the Military Appeals Court in Washington D.C. had reviewed his case and had determined that the sentencing instructions given to the  Court Martial Panel was in error and the results of his Court Martial have been set aside and he is to be restored to active duty with all back pay benefits, Gary was stunned.  The Officer detailing, he would be assigned to a retraining group for six weeks, reintroduced to a missile battalion, but because of his record would no longer retain his MOS having lost his secret security clearance, his service time would be extended as there was no credit for incarceration time-served and his military record would reflect his past activities.  Gary having totally forgotten  the Court of Appeals automatic review of his Court Martial and a return to duty was the furthest thing in his mind.  It wasn’t that he wanted to stay but there was no enthusiasm about leaving The Castle and the repoire with the band and the world of music. The move didn’t entitle far to go, the training unit was in located in the 3 storied MP Headquarters Building on Bluntville Ave, across the street from the west wall the Disciplinary Barracks.  His introduction was reminisce of the past, much like basic training, the groups billets was  a second floor bunk lined bay, standing at attention as  a SFC informed them of their good fortune and the opportunity to return to duty,  then removing the pleasantries bellowing the what not’s of discipline that would be instilled during their stay, including not to converse with anyone but those in this unit.  During mess, Gary recognizing some the MP cadre as Castle guards, including Sergeants Demands well like corporal band assistant Dan, Gary acknowledging his hello with a nod saying Hi.  Upon returning to the bay, finding the SFC waiting for him, lambasting him for breaking the rules on his first day, speaking to someone in the mess hall,  listing the removal of future privileges as punishment.  That night in bed found Gary struggling with his conscious, whether to even attempt to travel down this once traveled road again, there has to be another way. Returning from the mess hall that first morning, the group once again standing at the foot of their beds awaiting inspection from the duty NCO, all the beds properly dressed and displayed save one.  The NCO halting at Gary’s bed, questioning him why the bed wasn’t made, asking “ are you refusing to make your bed?”  Gary breaking his silence with one word. “yes”.   It was repeated three times, “Willson I’m giving you a direct order to make your bed”,  Gary refusing to comply.  The sergeant escorting Gary down the hall to the duty officer, giving an explanation, the Lieutenant looking somewhat perplexed having never experienced something of this order before.  The officer reiterating that by his noncompliance of a direct order,  charges could be filed and he could be returned to the DB to await court martial proceedings.  Gary having made his decision finally making a statement “I would rather be there than here.”  His restoration to duty preparation having lasted less that 24 hours , handcuffed and  escorted to the DB’s  basement solitary confinement, the cell a darken enclosure with a solid door having a small barred opening.  His stay was short live, the second day being transferred back into population to a cell on the ground floor tier of the #4 wing,  assigned as a minimum security custodian responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the 8  tier cell block.  The justice system at Fort Leavenworth moved swiftly, a special court martial was convened in less than 30 days, unlike the large hearing room with a convening judge and six man panel board for a General Court Martial, the Special Court Martial was held in JAG office almost like an informal hearing with a presiding officer and a three officer panel.  Gary agreeing to answer questions about his infraction and a summarized that it would be best that he would be separated from the service.  The sentencing was delayed, Gary being interviewed several time by a physiologist, given a battery of test, including physiological and a IQ test.  Once again ordered to report to the JAG office, the staff member conferring the intrinsic results of his Special Court-martial,  in brief it gave notice that Pvt Gary Willson would be issued a 257A General Discharge Under Honorable Condition and separated from the service on August 29th.   The day of restitution having arrived but for some reason its reception was without fanfare, there was no feeling of contentment , a cloud of solitude engulfed him as he made  the rounds picking up his fitted summer weight ‘ jody suit, white shirt and tie, and brand new shoes.   Boarding a jeep at the gate, his only possession being a small satchel containing what few personal item he had including DB issued boots, questioning the driver why he was being handcuffed as they were going to the Post Out processing Center, the driver saying one word, regulations.  A glance back at the The Castle knowing the catharsis effect it had on lives those it acquainted, but also knowing that it would take time to adjust to his departure from the confines of regiment, and obtain an exit to ambiguity




Glenn Froman

Glenn Froman

Glenns Bride June (Brewer) Froman

Glenns Bride June (Brewer) Froman

Glenn was anticipatory,  as Gary fulfilled his final military discourse,  the drummer having driven 560 miles west from Kokomo Indiana to reunite the pianist with the band.   Gary questioned himself,  why he was traveling east to Kokomo and not west,  home to California.   His decision to  join Glenn and Jerry in Kokomo Indiana  was not decisive but transitory, and the long drive provided an opportunity to give his actions some thought.   Darkness having set upon the travelers,  a rain beginning, the product of a passing thunderstorm,  the two deciding it would be a good time to halt their journey and find a roadside dinner.   The pause in the trip giving Gary an opportunity to place a long distance call to his parents,  notifying them of his decision to join the band in Indiana,  but to his dismay his mother was upset about his choice.   She was very emotional,  the Musician making a final disposition,  he would undertake a return either alone or a possibility that the others would be interested in a musical experience in California.   The phone call concluded, Gary’s mother satisfied, the venue resumed.

During Gary’s absence from The Hi-Liters,  Glenn having taken a giant step in entering a matrimonial union, convincing Jerry to accompany him and his wife June to explore the musical status in Indiana.  It was not surprising as Glenn was raised in Indiana and a opportunity for his bride to acquaint her newly accorded relatives.  The new arrival pianist looking forward to meeting Glenn’s Bride,  but discovering,  she was expecting with child and had already dispersed to New Mexico to visit family before the blessed event.   Gary soon discovering that Kokomo and the bands booking was one of discernment,  the Pianist finding no contingency for success with the  limited number of establishments and  no prospects in view.

A heartfelt loss

A heartfelt loss

This traveling departure from Indiana wasn’t the  only divergence,  a departure from the Hi-Liters name was in order,  a new designation for the musical group,  The Untouchables.   It was the final night in Kokomo, the Club date having come to a conclusion, the band residing at a restaurant parking the Ford Convertible conveying all the band equipment in a  well-lit parking area,  able to view the car from inside the eating establishment.  The meal completed, the band members approaching the car,  something seemed amiss,  Gary recognizing a laundry package containing  white starched shirts on the ground.   The shirts having been placed with others in the convertibles boot,  the packages covering Jerry stowed guitar, the pristine black and white Fender Stratocaster was missing.   It was apparent,  some person having watched its placement when embarking from the club, and in all probability followed them to the restaurant, boldly seizing on the opportunity to acquire it.   Law enforcement was notified, but to no avail, there was nothing they could do except make a stolen property report.   The 780 mile journey to Lawton Oklahoma was still scheduled to commence in the morning,  a sadden Jerry very dishearten about his loss,  but resolute about the future.

It was a familiar hearth,  Lawton Oklahoma and Hardy Suggs Music store on D Ave.   The three unemployed musicians greeting the elderly Hardy,  Jerry venturing the question about the store having a used Fender guitar,  a benediction,  Hardy answering in the affirmative.   The guitar not a Stratocaster,  but another fender product that was an ample messenger of music, a Telecaster.  The Lawton visit providing Gary a fortuitousness call upon Lawton Music on 3rd street,  the establishment that rendered him the Wurlitzer piano,  the musician desirous of replacement metal reed  that produce the resonating piano sound,  aware of the limited music stores that stocked the item.   Packing the Ford convertible for the venture found every available expansion consumed.   The top of the convertible was unable to augment,  giving meaning to a fair weather watch.   Gary having acquainted his family of the groups embarkation,  being assured of accommodations upon their arrival in Oakland. The journey would encompass well over 1600 mile,  with the stop in Clovis,  then a non-stop continuous excursion west,  the Ford incurring the responsibility for success.   The enterprising exploit beginning,  the front seat of the open air jitney  providing a temporary home for the Untouchables.



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