Archive for January, 2017

A Fort Ord Presence…………….#76 (the 50’s)

January 30, 2017

Recent Barracks addition

Pvt. E-1 Willson’s new home for the next eight weeks, Company B, 5th Battle Group, 1st Training Battalion, its location referred to as the “new barracks”, modern three-storied cement buildings located a mile from the main gate, and bordering on the east range,  a military exercise area stretching  over 2000 acres…   Each building providing  for an Infantry Training Company, consisting of four platoons, each platoon occupying a quadrant in the upper two floors.  Gary soon discovering the army was consumed with lack of a better term, alphabetical syndrome, his last name starting with W  finding himself assigned to the fourth platoon,  fourth squad.


The day commencing at 5 A M… the lights attaining illumination, the intonation of a baton striking the metal frames of the bunk beds and the compendium voice of a platoon sergeant encouraging the troops to rise.  The basic training contingency was diversified by their eight digit service number prefix,  U S  designating (drafted) and R A (enlisted).  The distinction between the drafted and enlisted trainees was not noticeable, but what Gary thought was conspicuous was the frequent aphoristic use of four letter words.  The young Oakland soldier was not one to partake of the abhorrent language discourse,  having been raised in a household void of swear words.  He reasoned its current use with the analogy that it was similar to students entering junior high, whereas 7th graders frequented an analogous vocabulary, but  by the 8th grade it all but disappeared except for a few,  concluding that its current proclamation would also subside.


The first week in the unit discovering expeditiousness a convention, there was  neither time for commission or convenience,  continuous assignments, dawning from the reveille formation till evening dormancy with lights out, and the echoing sounds of taps heard over loud speakers throughout the post.  Whether as a company or platoon, the training fold had standing marching orders , both for  classroom attendance or practical field application exercises.  a soldiering foundation of discipline prevailed, from the exact folding and placement of clothing in a footlocker,  to the temporary silence in the mess hall, all highlighted with the never-ending use of kiwi shoe polish, and the charge of spit-shining both boots and shoes.  A little known secret to hastily obtain a patent leather or spit shine appearance was to wipe a normally brushed shined boot with a 5 day deodorant pad, but only done in an extreme emergency, as this procedure would damage the leather over prolong use..   a competition was instilled between platoons, each sergeant in their role as a drill instructor ambitiously motivating his array,  some complained, but Gary finding the continuous introduction of engaging military activities very relevant to his past youthful apparitions, and now becoming  a discerning and meaningful reality.


The day of anticipation having finally arrived, the issuance of a weapon.   It was like accepting a merit of confidence, unsaid, but Gary could ascertain he was not alone with these thoughts when his platoon received the cordon of a soldier,  a rifle.   The M1 Garand, air-cooled, gas-operated , clip fed, semi-automatic 30.6 caliber, mainstay of WWII  was the Company’s designated training ordinance.   Holding the rifle for the first time, Gary reflected, his father trained with this very same weapon and now another generation.  He had heard the final test on the breakdown and reassemble of the component parts of the M1 would be required to be done blindfolded and to his amazement it was true.

The initial firing range was located across highway One, on the sand dunes, the breaking waves of the pacific as a backdrop, needlessly the sand made the inhibited instructional march to and from more difficult.  The M1 Garand weighing 9 point five pounds, and sustained at port-arms for a prolonged double time march,  it was discovered that some in the company were unable to maintain the port arms position for a long period of time.  The NCO overseeing each platoon would note those of questionable performance, and on return to the company area have them fall-out for extracurricular PT.  Gary was one who fell short in his response, his 113 lb. frame had yet to develop the arm strength for an extended double time port-arm excursion, but the desire was present and he accepted responsibility for his lacking, with resolve.


The physical training aspect was never a concern to the young trainee, the P T calisthenics were routine except for those gung-ho individuals having enlisted to go   “Airborne”, and were subject to an added P T program after the company had been dismissed.  The continuous daily regimen of marching displayed a difficulty for some,  the company instep-columns  was normally confined to the streets and parade field except when tracking the attenuated paths to the field exercises on the East Range.  Gary soon experiencing the 4th squad of the 4th platoon at the rear of the Company was susceptible to the accumulated dust of  the procession.  It reminded him of being in the last wagon in a western movie wagon train, subject to all the airborne crustaceans created by those proceeding him.  It was by coincidence being appointed and later volunteering as a rear guard when the company was on the paved roads, discovering once in the field he could lingering far enough behind the columns, enabling most of the dust to clear.


A new interest was in stilled when word was communicated within the Company,  for a person possessing journalism skills to assist the PIO  (Post Information Officer),  with interviews of company trainee’s,  the results to be written and submitted to hometown newspapers.  Gary making an inquiry, being directed to the PIO officer for an interview, submitting a verbal resume of his high school journalistic qualification, and was notified by his platoon sergeant that he had been accepted, only later discovering he was the only applicant.


Acquiring this assignment,  added to his already inundated training agenda, but on occasion did allow him to forgo the ambulatory morning dispatch, of marching with the company to their scheduled class, allowing him because of his extra duty to procure passenger status on a deuce and half or jeep to the field.  He thought that assisting the training cadre staff might in some way enlighten his presence,   Pvt. Willson discovering he was correct with his reasoning,  soon finding his name posted on almost every work detail list, and that volunteering also has its consequences.

Extract, Adjust & Clear………………..#77 (the 50’s)

January 27, 2017


It was late afternoon,  Gary and the army fatigue uniformed soldiers were absorbing  the cool breeze cascading from the pacific, traversing inland over Fort Ord’s 5000 acre east range.  Gary surmising, there was one scheduled field instruction class remaining that day, concluding it would be an introduction to gas warfare, as each member of the platoon had been issued a gas mask.   With its issue came a brief instructional class of the basics, how to adjust the straps and clear the mask, check for proper sealing, and informed further instructions were to follow.  The dust cloaked platoon coming to a halt before a section of sun-scorched bleachers.  At Ease was accorded and the formation rested in position awaiting for a fall-out command to mount the bleachers.


Gary noticing two NCO’s milling about behind and up wind of the standing formation and saw what looked like metal container in their hands. Immediately an odor aspired, eyes began to burn,  watering  profusely, the skin irritation was reminiscent of stinging-nettle, rifles chastising the ground as the men grasp the snaps to access their imprisoned mask.   The group was in total disarray, it was undisciplined attempt in apprehension of what was taking place.  Gary was among the many whose first thoughts were to seek refuge from the consternation vapor that enhanced the area, hastily donning his mask.  Once embellish in its protection,  he established the location of the two canisters which were placed quiescent behind the formation, observing as they continued to emit a clouded mist, It was the platoons inaugural introduction to teargas.

The eastward sea breeze soon cleared the discharge of effluvium, but not the vehement sound of the imperious lecture that followed.  The soldier’s listen to a despotic demeaned NCO instructor aggressively convey that it was a cardinal contravening act to let your weapon ever recline to the ground.   The formation regrouped, the veracity and connotation of NCO’s admonishment having conveyed a lasting message, the ad-hoc demonstration a lesson in the necessity for proper training.  Upon return to the barracks it was learned the instructional lesson was to be continued in the morning followed by participating in a practical test to demonstrate their skills by entering  what was noted as the gas chamber.


The morning found the fourth platoon arriving at the instructional station located somewhere noted as “in the boondocks”,  the Company’s third  platoon pulling out, having completed the exercise.  Two tent enshrouded structures were stationed on an elevated  bluff,  overlooking the silent brush of the East Range. The platoon informed, the tent structure they would be entering contained chlorine gas,  similar to chemicals exploited amid the combatants of the first world war.  The signature for entrance, would be to march in a squad at a time,  holding one’s breath until all were present, then given a command to extract, adjust and clear,  the mask to be adorned.  The platoon sergeant giving assurance,  the exercise would acquire less than a minute.


Gary was comfortable, no stinging or eye watering substance, only an odor similar to an over-chlorinated swimming pool.  The Fourth Squad entering,  the order given to extract, adjust and clear, Gary immediately discovering a problem, the mask enclosure snaps would not cooperate, refusing to unsnap he struggled,  holding his breath unable to call out,  tugging at the snaps  still no results.   He focused, concentrating on the attempt, and no longer able to maintain a breathless vacuum when the snaps suddenly released and simultaneously he inhaled a breath of the flavored aura, immediately according the mask,  the order to exit given.


The formation was at ease, but intense attentiveness was present, they knew what awaited in the second tent.  Orders were accorded again, “extract, adjust and clear”,  the mask being fixed in place.  Again, single file by squad, twelve men at a time entering the Tear-Gas cloud veiled tent interior, halting at attention.  Instruction were given to the expression concealed soldiers, on command,  the mask were to be removed and properly stored.  It was ordained, the mask were to be taken off.  Gary like the others,  holding their breath but beginning to feel the pandemonium that accompanies a person  experiencing a vexatious situation.   The Squad having to remain until the cadre was satisfied with the squads proper stance,   then acknowledging them to proceed to the bluff and allow the oncoming breeze to cleansed the captive pungent mist.


The soldier once again established in the cool sunlit morning after the gas chamber exigency, even applauding the call to fall in for formation, his acquaintance  with tear gas and the silent testimony to what was a chlorine gas charade, still a reminder of the significance of training.


The Arrays Of A Soldier………….#78 (the 50’s)

January 26, 2017


Basic Training is reveille,  formation,  mess,  formation, constant, fall in, fall out, cigarettes, light’ em up, put’em out,  double time, at ease,  never-ending, retreat, lights out, taps, the supposition, acquainting the instruments of war, its exertion, a soldier.  The firing range was a learning experience and the acquired skill a possible rehearsal for a future application for some.  Once on the firing line, the command load and lock was given, preparations required to fire an M1 Garand rifle. After the ammunition clip was inserted, the bolt automatically moved forward in order to “lock” a round into the chamber.  The next command, ready on the left, ready on the right, the firing line is ready being giving before firing the weapon.  Besides the issued M1 Garand the Company was instructed in the firing of a Browning Automatic Rifle,  (BAR),  the M1918A2, a 19 lb. 30 caliber (30.06) 20 round clip fed selective fire weapon,  its firepower utilized by the number 11 and number 2 man of the infantry 12 member squad.  Also the Company Squads were familiarized with the M1919A4 32lb.  30 caliber (30.06) 250 round belt fed light machine gun, the cadre noting that when firing, the barrel had a tendency to move up and to the right, so you might want to compensate for this.  The most impressive machine gun firepower was demonstrated by cadre, it being the M2 water-cooled 50 caliber machine gun known as Ma Duece, variation of this masterful weapon found in all branches of the service.


The Company once again in the realm of the East Range, this time an instructional course with live grenades.  A concrete barrier wall with six dividing concrete section, each section with a cadre instructor.  Gary having completed the instructional lessons with a dummy grenade now was prompted to the wall.  The stations NCO  reviewing the procedure instructions one more time, Gary gripping the grenade in his right hand, noticing a ten inch hole in the concrete floor.  The Sergeant supplying an answer to the unasked question, that if someone drop a grenade after pulling the pin, the concrete hole was an emergency detonation place.  Upon direction he pulled the pin latching the handle and in one motion slung the grenade over the concrete wall.  Seconds later it wasn’t the sound of the grenade  exploding that impressed Gary, but the resounding concussion he could feel behind the concrete barrier.  The grenade instruction continued, after experiencing a live grenade the recruit was thankful the instructional class for the M1’s  grenade launcher utilized only dummy grenades.  A realization of the days activities having a positive effect,  cementing a purpose for the unit, they could apprehend that the instructors were accomplishing their mission.


The nocturnal march from the company area was a first and the young soldier found the darken night difficult when the platoon traversed off a sufficiently defined path onto an unrecognizable course.  Gary’s consolation was occupying the fourth squad, not the vanguard, although he suspected  flashlights were in use at the head of the column to penetrate the total darkness.  Arriving at their objective, discovering additional company units on site participating in a night firing exercises.  It was an another first  for the platoon and an aura of anticipation radiated amongst the troops, Gary too was awestruck with the sight.  Tracers brandishing an illumination, their paths filling the azure with trailing plumes, streaking to the raised targets. Gary recognized the affectation of the flaring specter,  the kindled showering missiles honing in on the targets, giving a presence of baneful array’s of infliction.  The night-time display exacting a scene of allurement and destruction to a foe  but on the firing range there was no adversary save the conviction of fulfillment.


It wasn’t scuttlebutt, anyone volunteering to stay and pull targets for the remaining units would receive indemnification, in place of the long march home, they would be transported back to the barracks area by truck.  Gary weighing the Company’s trek back against a ride, knowing better than to volunteer, but deciding to invest in this new experience.  Entering the concrete bunker,  the odor of burnt pulverulent  from expended munitions permeated the environment.  The new target pull was instructed to mount and augment the targets with intention and dispatch. During the firing display , the target amending group would  sanction  to the rear of the bunker to  avoid contact with stray ricocheted bullets. Gary ascertaining immediately that  safety was a concern as a 30.6 projectile came  to rest at his feet.  He was quick to study,  learning not to grasp the hot lead munition after burning his finger, defaulting to a sense of character, continuing with his task, but staying vigilant.  Fulfilling his commitment,  the nights convention coming to a close and another experience indelibly inscribed with purpose


The memories of the night infiltration course would always remain prevalent.  The soldiers twelve man squad was again a finalist in participation,  the last plah-toon of the last company to enter the course.  This was a competition,  judgment based on elapsed time to complete the course and a penalty deduction for any movement observed by searching beacons or flares.  the course pox-marked with pits containing detonating  explosive devices,  strung barbwire to wither under,  30 caliber machine guns firing tracers overhead,  and the ever presence of  darkness interrupted by searchlight spotters.   Doing the low-crawl thru the maze wasn’t difficult,  providing you anchor your orientation.  the combat maze accomplished, the experience completed, noting the infiltration course was appropriately named,  never has Gary been so infiltrated with such an accumulation of blanketed obscuring  Dirt


Ft. Ord – A Weekend Pass…… ..#79 (the 50’s)

January 24, 2017


The first conspicuous alteration to an army recruit during basic training is they no longer have a first or middle name.   His surname was Sherman,  and upon approach he ascended to the charge of squad leader.   Private Willson suspected Sherman’s’ prior service may have influenced the platoon sergeant predilection,  as a newly anointed squad leader he named Stewart as assistant,  another name culminating the alphabet which was conventional for a fourth squad.   Gary soon recognized the idiosyncrasies that bestowed those with leadership responsibility,  it was the symbolism use of a clip board.  Lapses in the daily training schedule would find work details sometimes articulated by squad.   Sherman was very adept at securing a clipboard.  and with the squad called to formation.  he would conveniently misinterpret the instruction of the assignment.   The squad leader, clipboard in hand, smartly marching the squad, not to a duty assignment but accessing the PX.   When asked, Sherman rendered,  it was his military experience that no one questioned a clip-board instructed formation about its destination.


Willson having discovering his name was not impugn from appearing on the company duty roster, his first assignment being fire watch, spending two hours perched in a ladder accessible wooden lookout tower, situated in the boondocks of the East Range with a walkie-talkie radio.   The Company was in its fourth week when the epidemic of what was known as The Fourth Week Crud began.  It started with flu-like symptoms, Gary noticing the congestion and somewhat feverish sensation, debating whether to go on sick call, but his name was on the duty roster for morning KP and he reported to the mess hall.  He was stationed at the pots and pans sink feeling terrible when one of the  mess hall staff NCO’s started chewing him out for being so slow.  The soldier explaining that he wasn’t feeling well, the NCO yelling that he should have fallen out for sickcall.   Collaring the recruit,  the two marched out of the kitchen to the administrative office of the Company’s First Sergeant, the mess hall NCO giving an explanation,  but making it sound like this recruit was just trying to get out of KP duty.  The First Sergeant directing a staff member to take Willson to the dispensary, and would later decide on what action to take if necessary.


The recruit waiting his turn in the dispensary with the others on sickcall, not seeing a doctor but a medic and after a brief questioning, a blood pressure and temperature check, the medic concluding he would be transported to the hospital, disclosing that his temperature of one hundred and one point two had meant the temperature criteria for admittance.   gary, besides his physical lapse, had some other concerns about a hospital stay. it was S O P,  if admitted the unit would duffel bag and send all his belongings to the hospital, and if a prolonged admittance caused one to miss a sufficient number of training requirements, they would be held over for the next training battalion.  It was confirmed, he had the crud, medically diagnosed as an upper respiratory infection.  Discovering, it was a inherit training battalion illness,  something experienced after the start of training, much like the childhood illness’s at the start of a school year.


Gary somewhat oblivious to the events of the first night in the hospital, the second night an awareness of the consequences of his stay beginning to set in.  The morning of the third day, his fever having broken the night before, the Doctor asking but a single question, “how do you feel”, the recruit still feeling weak but mustering a bold reply,  “a lot  better” ,  the doctor giving a bland response,   “good, I’m dismissing you, report back to your unit”.  Willson soon found himself outside the hospital, dragging his duffel bag, unable to carry it for any length of time, coming to the conclusion it was a long way to the barracks.  He struggled for about a block when a passing  NCO in a jeep took notice of his dilemma, stopping,  offering to give him a lift.


It was Saturday, the recruit having completed the 6th week noting the sign at Fort Ord’s main gate displaying in bold print,  “Give A Buddy A Ride”.  Gary stationing himself at the side of the road outside the main gate thumb raised,  anticipating a Samaritan stop.  Members of his squad having questioned his reason for the brief overnight venture home on his first weekend leave, turning down an invitation to join them for a night in Carmel,  but in some sense subconsciously, he wanted to impress everyone at home with his new-found confidence, highlighted by a uniform, a visual demonstration of what he perceived as a transformation of maturity, but the real reason remained within,  the family and house on Greenly Drive was home.   Lady luck was smiling, the soldier harnessing a ride, concluding the normal two-hour drive to Oakland in a little over three hours, good time considering he was hitchhiking.



Arriving at home,  the feeling wasn’t what he expected, Sunday morning found him going for a walk, it had only  been little over six weeks since that meaningful day he had departed and  returning, the feeling wasn’t what he expected, everything had a new perspective, he felt more like a visitor in the house that he called home.  The elder Willson mentioning he would drive him back to Fort Ord that afternoon, Gary making it known that he would be returning next weekend with an army buddy that he wanted them to meet.



It was Saturday afternoon, Private Willson and Steward having just completed training week seven,  stationing themselves on Highway one outside the main gate, trusting for conveyance to Oakland.   On this second hitch hiking venture,  the Class A uniform wasn’t the complementing antecedent as assumed, waiting for what seemed an eternity before someone stopped, only to discover he was going to San Francisco, but could drop them off at the junction of the Bay Shore freeway to san francisco and Nimitz to Oakland.  the two being dropped off,  walking to the on ramp entrance of the Nim its in dire need of another advocate.  to their surprise a 10 wheeler semi,  with an attached auto transport trailer pulled onto the shoulder and stopped.  With a questioning expression on both their faces, the two approached the driver who greeted them with an inquiry as to their destination.  Gary immediately replying, thee 98th Avenue exit in Oakland,  the driver motioning for them to get in.   Both soldiers hesitant, there being room for just one in the cab,  and then they observed the driver ambulation’s, he wasn’t directing them to the cab,  but pointing to the auto transport trailer, voicing,   “the cars are unlocked”.




      The two were hesitant, the inventory that pervaded the trailer was an assortment of mostly new cars. the soldiers mounting the top-tier of the emporium, once seated, bathing in the aromatic bouquet only a new car possesses. The keys were in the ignition both looking at the dash, desirable thoughts prevailed, but the young soldiers perceived otherwise,  not turning on the radio.  The journey provided a spectacular delineation from its prodigious elevation, the two able to survey the freeway cartage from a height,  envisioning the perambulators of the highway,  like curios on a game board.  The auto transport trailer halting at the freeways 98th Avenue exit ,  the two uniform soldiers disembarking, setting about to procure a another Samaritan.  This time experiencing the smiles of lady luck, the person stopping,  not only escorting them to Mountain Boulevard, but to the Willson residence on Greenly Drive.



The hitch-hiking journey and their Saturday night arrival at Gary’s home was worth the effort, if nothing else, a removal from the rigors of discipline,  known as basic training.  The Willson family welcoming the travelers.  Gary somewhat concerned about their Sunday afternoon departure, having floated the idea to his Dad about taking the 56 Plymouth back to Fort Ord,  since this would be his final week of basic  his dad wouldn’t have to drivedown to pick him up.  He was still waiting for a answer when his Dad handed him the keys, reminding him to be careful,  and just when the new soldier thought he had gained some newfound respect, as he was leaving,  his Dad casually adding the dreaded high school cruising rule.  “and once you get there,  leave the car parked”.


Ft. Ord – A Departure…..#80 (the 50’s)

January 22, 2017

The eight weeks of basic training having come to a conclusion, the entire training battalion dressed in class A uniforms assembled.  There was no band to accompany the regatta on the parade grounds, but miraculously two drummers appeared, publicizing the congregation casting a rhythmic intonation cadence, painting a picture of promotion for the pageantry of the smartly assembled training battalions. The VIP’s  were stationed for review, the units demonstrating the liberty of precision and an atmosphere of recognition could be perceived.  The soldier not questioning the ceremonial event, its arrival an approbation for the instructional cadre  a celebration of attainment for the training units and their given tasks,  Gary thought it very appropriate.   The ceremony concluded,  a return to the barracks finding the shadows of a relaxed discipline in anticipation of the posting of the MOS school assignments, and for some an eagerness  prevailed.   The soldier contemplated his change of character, military experiences reflects an understanding that perspicacity is individual, but very much recognizable, a different person having emerged.


The day of reckoning was Thursday,  June 25th.   listed were the trainees of Company B, 5th Battle Group, 1st Training Battalion, and their subsequent duty station and m o s  designation, all that remained was the actual issuing of orders and pay vouchers.  With the trainee’s dispersed, Gary’s 2nd floor 4th platoon bay vacant, save one, considering himself a remnant.  The training unit having fulfilled its obligation with most dispatched to their MOS school, but Gary and some from the other three platoon’s still remained awaiting orders.  Most of the drafted personal received orders for AIT ,  advanced infantry training remaining at Fort Ord.  others to AFA, the army field artillery, with those assigned to a communication school going to Fort Monmouth New Jersey.


Pvt. Willson = finally receiving marching orders on June 29th to report to the Duty Officer, 2nd Enlisted Student Battery,  operation, CEMME 2,  corporal electronics material maintenance course,  Fort Sill Oklahoma on July 13th, 1959……     the soldier was disenchanted, he was aware of his MOS,  having no idea of the school’s location,  and with an analogizing of missile electronics,   the dust bowl state was totally disconcerted.  Rationalization was not applicatory,  the one thing he had discerned in the past eight weeks, army directive was final,  the statutory words being,  Yes Sir!


Gary pausing upon leaving, a two-week furlough awaiting before reporting to Fort Sill.  his thoughts about departing this calling known as Fort Ord was almost one of abandonment,  not that his leaving was without Cause,  and not that this eight week realm of charge’ was without reason, for this military complex has been witness to many and could lay testimony to their attainment,  it’s purpose and portals remain endowed. The 56 dodge navigated the main gate onto the highway,  a lasting rear view glance of fort Ord in the mirror,  his foot on the throttle, a hint of melancholy lingering.  Private Willson somewhat puzzled that he lacked a feeling elation that one would expect, having accomplished and completed an eight week test of endurance, discipline and Preparation.


Arriving home the soldier once again,  feeling somewhat out-of-place..  7964 Greenly Drive was no longer the same, it was their world,  he did his best to be the person he was before, realizing they had remained the same, but his world had changed in the last eight weeks,  and he felt more like a visitor than a family member.   The following weekend found the family on their way to Grandfather Marvin’s residence the other side of Santa Rosa, a decision being made to take in the beach at Rio Nido,  on the Russian River, something they hadn’t done in years.  Their visit to Rio Nido was brief but long enough to bring back memories of the past when Gary was a youngster.


Returning to Oakland, the soldier settled into the doldrums of inactivity, awaiting his time for departure, the exception,  his mother and him attending the acclaimed movie On The Beach, depicting a submarine commanders communion with acquaintances and life after a destructive nuclear war..   Sunday July 12th finally arriving, Private Willson’s mother and father seeing their son board a Oakland Airport, 10:00 p.m.  Western Airlines DC-8-B flight to Love Field, Dallas Texas.



Confirmation of Assignment….#81 (the 50’s)

January 20, 2017

DC-6B at the Oakland International Airport

.    The silver winged astral craft didn’t acknowledge the tarmac as home, but only a beginning and  conclusion, the tarmac a means for sustenance to sustain its objective. The craft  stood waiting direction to advance its purpose, while all gathered in expectation,  a decamping trust.  Its activation to kindle the endowment, and administer a volition to flee the bonds of terrestrial tether,   Giving destination a meaning.   The DC-6B was positioned for Boarding .

.    Private Gary Willson, having completed his 8 weeks of basic training at Fort Ord,  finally receiving marching orders on June 29th to report to the Duty Officer,  2nd Enlisted Student Battery,   operation,  CEMMC 2,  for a 33 week corporal electronics material maintenance course, with an addendum nuclear warhead school at Fort Sill Oklahoma on July 13th, 1959.

.    It was a  Sunday night,  and a 10:00 PM  Oakland airport departure for the soldier, Gary’s mother and father,  seeing their son board the Western Airlines DC-6B flight for Love Field, Dallas Texas.  His  emotions layered beneath the momentary anticipations of his first air-flight..   The damp night air radiating off  the Bay,  presenting an unspoken farewell as he mounted the steps.   Turning,  a retreating unfeigned glimpse of the  Hills and Home.   An evanescent feeling of melancholy was awaken for an instant,  but Vanished with the entrance to the aircraft’s .  His ticketed lodging,  an aisle seat Placement,  the visual aperture seat having been Secured by another uniformed person.  the 6 ½ hour nonstop flight to Love Field,  scheduled for a six-thirty central time,  morning Arrival.

.    The untested flyer was subject to the latitude of this new experience, discerning to mirror the acknowledge passengers,  and their unimpressed placid appearance,   but beneath this put on façade,  an intrinsic query remained.   The dimmed lights and subtle drone,  of the four Pratt  Whitney engines provided a somnolence envelope,  inducing a much needed repose, which the young soldier indulged.   Awaken with announcement of an approach to Love Field,  an examination of his reservations,  Gary discovering a two-hour layover before embarking  to Lawton  Oklahoma,  and Fort Sill.  Upon his debarkation , it was immediately apparent,  the west coast requirement of a winter green Class A dress uniform was not germane for this region of the country.  All other army uniformed were dressed in khaki’s,  appropriate for the summer July heat and humidity.  The winter uniform and top coat he carried was deriding.  But, the circumstance would have to prevail.


.    The two-hour layover,  enabling an opportunity for the soldier to acquire some nourishment before searching out the Central Airlines domain. His flight and gate boarding  announced, outside on the tarmac,  a  twin-engine DC-3  stood poised, the soldier noticing the ground crew scurrying to load duffel bags into the aircraft,  from the number of bags, it was apparent he wouldn’t be the only military to board the craft.   Once seated, observing there were seven rows of seats,  each row having two seats on the left of the aisle, and one on the right, numbering 21, consisting of mostly uniformed military.  A lone stewardess beginning to count heads and check seat belts  as the craft began taxing to the end of the runway.  Gary very much conscious of this new experience,  the DC3 briefly halting,  the throttle advanced, the  engines bellowing at full RPM,  the craft straining to be set free , then the releasing of the brakes, the transport sprinting forward and with a thrust lifted into the air.

.    The soldier aware of  a much different flight than the DC-6B,  the First noticeable difference was the sound of the engines proclaiming their Existence,  the Second was the heat and humidity of the cabin,  and once airborne, noticing the close proximity of the  ground.The Soldier discerning a barometric change in his ears, sending a message,  the DC3  was not a pressurized craft.   The relative recumbent landscape surrounding the  Dallas area,  beginning to give way to the rolling hills of rural Texas,  the craft reacting to the up and down drafts.  Gary and the other  experiencing the  buffeting and sudden movements.   The Stewardess attempting to provide a semblance of service to the attentive military onlookers,   but was having  difficulty  keeping  her balance with the motion of the plane,  finally deciding the effort was in Vain, returning to her seat at the rear of the plane.

.    The Dc3 making its approach and descending to Lawton,  Gary disembarking,  entering the airport terminal building,   joining the others that were Fort Sill bound.   the agent behind the counter mentioning he had called  base reception,  and  they were sending transportation.   After a brief auditing of his orders at reception,  Private Willson found he was the lone transport to the Second Enlisted Student Battery.  The young soldier taking stock of the last 12 hours with mixed emotions,  his leaving, the goodbyes, the flight to Oklahoma, but confident in his enlistment decision, and this new found anchor in life,   The Army.

2nd Enlisted Student Battery – An Arrival…#82 (the 50’s)

January 18, 2017

    Private Gary Willson having arrived at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, with orders to report to the Duty Officer, 2nd Enlisted Student Battery, for a 33 week corporal electronics material maintenance class M O S prerequisite,  the class designated as CEMMC-2.  Entering the three-story  Student Battery conclave,  feeling out of place dressed in his west coast green winter class A uniform, inquiring where to report.   The Duty Officer noting his order’s,  directing him to a  NCO in the far west wing for quartering.  Gary addressed to an area on the second floor, his abode was accorded as “temporary quarters”,  awaiting the remainder CEMMC-2 complement to arrive.

    The 2nd Enlisted Student Battery building was composed of four extended wings emulating inset alcoves bordering a Spanish motif,  with its tile roof and alfresco balconies.  The U S A A M S, (United States Army artillery Missile School ) premises on Randolph Road consisted of three buildings, the 2nd Enlisted, the Staff and Faculty and the 1st Officers Student Battery


    The 2nd Enlisted and 1st. Officers were provisional dormitory for the students attending ongoing instructional classes, for all aspects of Army Missile Operations, encompassing  the Redstone, the ultimate in long distance field artillery weaponry, a 63ft.  liquid  fueled missile, with a 150 mile range, delivering a 2point3 megaton nuclear warhead.  The Corporal, a 45ft. liquid  20 kiloton nuclear shuttle, with an intermediate range of 80 miles.  followed by the 24ft.  truck mounted solid fuel 12 mile  range Honest John, also with a nuclear capability of up to  20 kilotons.  and  Little John, a solid fueled 12ft.  trailer mounted high explosive warhead missile, for coverage of less than 11 miles.

    The duty structure for students  provided for full-time instruction,  eight hours per day,  five days a week, with an addendum Saturday morning attendance,  to observe field firepower demonstrations.  The arriving student status provided some good news for the duration of their stay,  the citadel Army stanchions of guard duty and K P, was not a pre requisite.

     The 94,000 acre military installation of Fort Sill having the appearance of a bourgeois military complex, host to 20,000 plus, outnumbering the 18,000 residence of the neighboring  town of Lawton.


     Fort Sill’s historical past is one that parallels that of Oklahoma, beginning with General of the Army Philip Sheridan of Civil War Appomattox fame,  leading the campaign into Indian Territory in 1869,  establishing Fort Wichita, which was re-designated Fort Sill, named after Brigadier General Joshua W Sill, a West Point Classmate, and good Friend of Sheridan’s who was killed in the civil war’s bloodfest  battle at Stoney River.  Sheridan eulogizing.   “No man in the entire army, I believe, was so much admired, respected, and beloved by inferiors as well as superiors in rank as was General Sill”.

    Fort Sill first gained notoriety with the capture and incarceration of Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches.  In October 1894, the Chiricahua’s were transferred to Fort Sill in southwestern Oklahoma Territory, where the geography was similar to that of their homeland.  They built villages that were scattered around the post.  Geronimo, like other Apaches, was given a plot of land on which he took up farming activities.

     In 1911, another Fort Sill milestone,  the military bastion becoming the  Army first artillery training school, and in 1915 becoming the birthplace of combat aviation with the formation of the 1st Aero Squadron. The squadron made up of Curtis J n3,   Jenny’ biplanes, shipped to Fort Sill in crates and assembled on the parade grounds.    With no airfield, they were walked to the polo field where the Wright Brothers taught the Aero Squadron members to fly.


     The prospective CEMMC-2  classmates beginning to arrive,  Gary introducing himself to one of the first arrivals, an enlistee from Manhattan New York, Al Martin.  Al possessing an entertaining outlook on life which the army was soon to experience.  It was protocol,  the yet to be filled class  arrivals were responsible for the policing, (cleaning)  the west wing floors.  A duty list roll call was held in the morning,  supervised by a gray haired elderly NCO.  Martin happened upon the sergeants misplaced clipboard, listing names for policing duty.  An enlighten Al,   proceeding to add a fictitious name to the list,  Private R A Glick. The next morning at policing duty roll-call, the NCO calling out the name R A Glick, getting no response.  That evening Martin ventured to an unoccupied section of the third floor,  dressing down a bunk with bedding, leaving drink and food wrappings, giving the appearance of occupancy.  The second day, The sergeant again calling for R A  Glick and again still no response.  Martin speaking up, when he was on policing duty, noticing a made up bed in an unoccupied part of the third floor.  It was apparent, the curiosity of the sergeant was aroused.   With the perplexity of student traffic coming and going, the apparent absence of R A Glick was not unusual, but it was suspect that the sergeant had realized he was a victim of a prank, Gary wondering if had ever put 2 N 2 together.

     The class aggregate being fulfilled,  the second floor domiciled members being moved to the opposite side of the alcove.  Gary’s CEMMC-2  classmate were mostly from the east,   he being the only western state class member, with the exception of Corporal Evans,  whose wife and family resided in Albuquerque.  In charge of this educational bound expedition, and residing off post  was Sergeant First Class Stephens,  a career artilleryman with 12 years’ of service.  Complementing the leadership rank was Staff Sergeant Ross, a sixteen year veteran,  plus the addition of  Corporal Evans.

     The on CEMMC-2  class members consisted of Gary, Al Martin,  Paul White,  David Keyes,  Paul Dombrowsky, Robert Tobin,  Vinnie Lombardi and Karl Kirchoc.   Week day mornings finding the billeted  class members falling in at 0 600 Hours,  the outside formation, a formality for mess call before their daily march to class.   The atmosphere for the unknown was very much experienced, the group’s enthusiasm reigned with an advent of expectation. The prospective CEMMC-2 soldiers were of like mind,  taking the first steps in this journey. Gary sensing the anticipation of the group,  but recalling a quote from the past, “We all may live under the same sky, but all may not have the same Horizon”.






Paradigm To Reality……………#83 (the 50’s)

January 16, 2017

An introductory exploration of the Fort Sill post facilities by private willson and other members of the CEMMC-2 class was in order,  the liberation of  the city of Lawton was set aside for a latter prospective.   The post service club provided a full spectrum of programming,  ping-pong, pool,  snooker tables,  music room with piano,  and most encouraging , bounteously populated by post WAC citizenry.  The California soldier allotting interest with several  respective class constituents after classroom hours,  enlisting the skill of Paul White to introduce him to the game of Chess.   White’s father was purported to be a past Pennsylvania State champion chess player,  and Paul purported to be ” a chip off the old block’.


Gary’s  desire to explore the game was reinforced with his introduction to White and his sense of logic.  Given amble edification, Gary soon discovered, administering a game of chess is like his engaging music on the piano, playing by ear and intuition,   contemplation is retrospective.  Another ensuing discovery within walking distance, a  journey to the post Library,  not to partake of the bountiful shelves of accumulated knowledge,  the Soldier discovering a hidden treasure, a music rooms equipped with phonographs, headsets and a thesaurus of LP records, enabling the youth to escape the presence of the military and transport himself to the  world of  Wagner, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky.

The student acknowledging a course of study, commencing with basic math thru algebraic exponent, their relationship to electrical applications and Ohms law in concurrence with terminology and function,  the subject material more engaging than arduous.     The class finding a lighter side to electrical circuitry besides resistors,  capacitors,  diodes and  pentodes, the age-old parable of how to discern a resistors size by its color-coded markings was ensued.   Each color denoted a numerical value and multiplier and by using  a memorable verse the first letter of each word in the verse designating a color and value 0 thru 9.  The acronymic coloring verse “bad boys rape our young girls but violet  gives  willingly”  translated into the colors (black-brown-red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet-gray-white) was very efficacious,  covering  the chromatic as well as the intonated  spectrum and not soon forgotten.

The soldiers soon learned that if an explanation or inquiry about a subject matter was needed it best be immediately resolved  or it would remain a question,  the instruction as well as the instructors  took no prisoners.   There was a apportioned sense of attainment among the class, finding those who could reason and assimilate assisting those who pondered.  Gary’s anticipation being  fulfilled with the inaugural of every educational  chapter, a learning experience, the presentation of the  subject matter liken to an adventure story always striving for a climactic ending.

It was called Fire Power Demonstrations  held on  Saturday mornings and you were invited or so you were led to believe.   Gary first experience was encountering a NCO walking thru the billets early Saturday morning directing those he came into contact with to report outside and board a bus.  Once aboard the unsuspected were informed that they would be attending a Fire Power Demonstration on the West Artillery Range.  The number of military seated on the bleacher facing the West Range was in the hundreds plus a contingency of others in civilian clothing.  It was announced over the PA the unit designation of artillery firing battery units participating.  The firepower demonstrators were artillery  units consisting of  155mm, 8 inch and 280mm artillery monster commonly called the atomic cannon.  Gary having never witness the sound of artillery up close let alone able to see  the results.  What really surprised him was the pressure repercussion of the out of sight 8 inch guns, not  knowing exactly where they were located, but when fired the ground shook.  It was rather disappointing, the was fired just one time, but what  impressed all was,  you could actual see the projectile and watch its trajectory as traversed to the far mountain destination.  He later discovered later  it wasn’t mandatory to make yourself available to attend, especially if you happened to be an early arrival at the service club for Saturday morning coffee and donuts.

The educational discipline of  CEMMC-2 classroom instruction was advancing with applied principles including audio, visual,  signal generation,  transponder telemetry,  servo-generation,  three-phase attribution, the subjects were labyrinthine in essence.   The military students having converged upon the in-depth intrinsic ingredients of missile components and  adjunct support equipment,  the operation, reason and purpose of meaning of the subject matter all being empowered.

Seriousness was not always captive during class,  youthfulness would vacillate and sometimes deviate,  causing a prankish impulse to prevail.  Relinquishing a fully charged 250 volt microfarad capacitor on a  work bench at the end of the day,  for some unsuspecting clean-up person to remove,   resulted in a sternly administered class reprimand.  The classes facetious conclusion about the clean-up person was,   ” it must have been a shocking experience”.

The months of progress manifested and

CEMMC-2 sojourned further into the reaches of the byzantine structure and missile acquisition,  but the missile entity was illusive.  The exiled classroom instruction was concluding, and the transition from paradigm to reality was fast approaching to address the Corporal….


A Welcomed Diversion………..#84 (The 50’s)

January 14, 2017

It was time to lay siege to Lawton, and exploit its offerings provided for the thousands of military it hosted.  Gary, and three of the CEMMC-2 class components depositing themselves at the 1/2 block long bus terminal,  at 2nd and C Avenue.   The 9 square block expanse from 1st to 4th, and C to E, flourished with military traffic, but the Broadway of cache,  was centered on either side of the Lawton Café on 3rd Street.  A twelve o’clock closing  curfew presided over a multitude of  flourishing compacted taverns,  finding the 3 2 beer pavilion landscape, interspersed with pawn shops and sporadic tattoo endowments.  Tobin,  White,  Martin  and Willson laying claim to Bills’  Alley Club,  but unbeknownst to three of the group,  there was one among them that had sampled,  but never had any desired to consume a bottle of beer,  or a beverage containing alcohol, but that was about to change.

Oklahoma having just passed a  law legalizing the sale of packaged liquor in April, the state having never ratified the 21st amendment ending prohibition, but allowing the sale of what the state considered a non-alcohol beverage,  3 point 2 beer.  Gary appraisal of Bill’s Alley Club was as its name implied,  in an alley off 3rd Street, with Bill,  a smiling gray-haired proprietor, providing free pretzels,  and on occasion,  donating a round of  beer.  With Tobin and Martin shouldering from New York City,  and White from Pennsylvania, Willson was surprised their beer of choice wasn’t an eastern brew as expected,  but one that hailed from bordering Texas,  a brew new to the four,  Lone Star.   With the monetary stocking of the juke box, the constant refrains of  Marty Robbins’s  El Paso, and Johnny and The Hurricanes Red River Rock echoing, the four aspiring to amalgamate into the surroundings.  Once back on base, it was soon discovered, that with an ever increasing amount of classroom study,  the brevity of Lawton was acknowledged, but to limited anomalies.

Failure in CEMMC-2 was unacceptable,  the consequence was a transfer to AIT,  Advanced Infantry Training unit,  or UFACC,  better known as the field artillery,  for what was known as your second eight.   With the essential electrical skills accomplished,  an assignment of drafting a schematic for an operational piece of electrical equipment of choice,  with assigned values for each component of the apparatus was required.   The class’s volition was limited to relatively simple devices, encompassing minor circuitry,  all save one, the Soldier from California.

Gary recalling an acquisition from his past, his first dynamic audio amplifier,  from a Wurlitzer jukebox, a super-heterodyne,  with 6L6 pentode push-pull power tubes.   Having proclaimed this challenge to the Warrant Officer instructor, the irrefutable test wasn’t his ability,  but affirmation of resolve,  and soon discovering a capacious number of hours needed to complete the task.  With his new discerning knowledge, he was successful at his endeavor, somewhat expecting a commendatory comment from the instructor, but such as it was, the only person his accomplishment impressed,  was himself.

The lady laid prone, communication conduits containing numerous leads were prescribed, addressing her sleek and slender anatomy,  enabling conversations to inquire and be audited.  The purpose was to insure regulatory employment, not to concede  impairment,  or to hinder her assigned duty.  Assuring her application,  and confirming the knowledge of position, accepting her logistical assignment,  relative to an assured ambition.  Recognition of disposition are issued,  and a confirmation communicated for transfer, her deployment  is received and ready to assimilate.

The two soldiers occupying the missile test van adjoining the cabled 45 foot nuclear capable missile,  confirmed that it was ready for erection and certified Go for launch.  Martin and Willson receiving  an admission of approbation from the Warrant Officer monitoring the two, the officer having observed the discovery,  and correction of his previous installed defective components.   Al Martin and Gary stepping out of the test van housed in the hangar sized building with the other Test Stations and accompanying missiles, the two being the  first to finish this trouble shooting exercise.  When balanced together,  the two were exemplary at trouble-shooting and diagnosing the instructor placed missile component difficulties,  and remedying the problem.

Martin noticing that there were no instructor present on the test van line,  the Warrant Officer Instructor for their exercise having apparently stepped inside the adjacent Van occupied by Tobin and White.   Martin up to his antic again, without hesitation, walking over to Tobin’s and Whites missile, glancing to make sure he wasn’t observed, reached down disconnecting a cable introducing non instructor applied trouble-shooting problem.  Curiosity was sustained when the two Warrant Officers exited the van and began researching the missiles additional problem.  The instructor retaining a perplexed expression and was overheard to acknowledge, this was not a trouble-shooting problem that he administered.   Conferring with the other Warrant Officer,  two instructors commenced to diagnose the cause and location of the trouble.   The problem was resolved,  Al and Gary  thinking they might be suspect for the unexpected difficulty, but fortunately not this time, Gary concluding reason precludes opportunity if not deduced.

Al Martin acquiring a  new source of transportation, a well-worn 49 Ford.  the New Yorker extending an invitation for anyone interested,  to join him in exploring the Wichita Mountain  Wildlife Refuge and Mount Scott,  just north and west of the military base.   The mountain reputed to be the second highest in Oklahoma, reaching an elevation of 2 thousand, 4 hundred and 64 feet.  Mount Pinchot,  located several mile’s west,  being 12 feet higher.  Dumbrosky, White and Willson,  deciding to join him in exploring this scenic Oklahoma domain.  The foursome,  motoring up the three-mile circular road to the summit of Mount Scott,  observing an  impressive  view of Lake Lawtonka,  and the never-ending flat land horizon of southwest Oklahoma.  Continuing on their venture, the highway signs on the Cash-Meers road,  marking the entrance to the wildlife refuge, and signs posted,  off road vehicle travel prohibited.

The soldiers discovering a small herd of buffalo grazing off the highway, Al desiring a closer look,  driving across the open field.  The buffalo not giving a second thought about the visitors until they were within 20 yards,  the herd deciding to move away from the intruders.  The Ford continued, the herd moving on,  except one big buffalo, he apparently decided to stand his ground, turning towards the oncoming vehicle, pawing the ground like a bull in a ring.  Al stopping the car, the buffalo lowering its head and began a charge toward  them, a wide-eyed Martin putting the car in reverse,  and backing away as fast as he could.  the buffalo halting,  giving them a look of superiority,  before joining the grazing herd.

The evening approaching, Gary discovering,  this so-called flat prairie landscape of Oklahoma,  also retained another little talked about venue, a majestic vista,  sunrise & sunsets,   a subtle reminder,   that what we see,  is what we look For.

Purpose Of Acquisition…………#85 (the 60’s)

January 12, 2017

The year-end holidays arriving,  the army artillery & missile school serving notice that classes would close for two weeks.   Gary deciding to apply for leave and take a bus home from Lawton.   mentioning his plans to Corporal Evans, discovering Evan’s and his family were traveling to Albuquerque.   Gary immediately seizing on an opportunity to save some money, asking if they had room for one more, his 86 dollar monthly pay always seemed to dissipate rather fast.   It was a one stop eight hour overcast journey across Oklahoma to Amarillo, then on to Albuquerque. the soldier being dropped off at the greyhound bus station.  A late afternoon departure for California,  darkness soon prevailing, the soldier somewhat disappointed, so much for a scenic view from route 66.  An arrival in Oakland, a phone call, and a welcoming dad  arriving at the bus station.

The soldier sensing that the atmosphere of home remained as it was after his return from basic training, not the same,  finding it no longer conveyed a lifeline perception or anchor in his world.  he felt like a family observer,  not a participant.  Before leaving fort sill, his eight months of enlistment longevity had arrived, a pay grade increase from E-2, to private first class E-3.    Gary taking advantage of his visit home, his mother volunteering to sew a PFC stripe on his class A uniform that he had conveniently brought along.   It was time to return, before leaving Albuquerque, making arrangements for Evans to meet him at the bus station for their return, but there was a change, instead of arriving by bus, he would be arriving by train.


he soldiers parents saying goodbye at the 40th & san Pablo avenue’s Santa Fe station. It was only Gary’s second time aboard a train,  not counting the electric A  train across the bay bridge.  his first locomotive experience was as a Oakland Tribune paper boy,  having won a trip traveling from Oakland to the boardwalk at Santa Cruz  with a  train full  of  paper route carriers.   The train ride  experience was somewhat dimmed, the scenic part of the travel was at night.  It was noticeable when the train came to a halt, asking a conductor, informed they added another engine at Kingman for the uphill climb to flagstaff.  The city with an elevation of over 7000 feet, just south of the San Francisco peaks, the highest mountain range in Arizona, with mount Humphrey at 12,633 feet.  The chair only, Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe’s sleeping  accommodations did leave a lasting impression, the soldier having removed his shoes, falling asleep for several hours, awakening to discover a first, his feet had swollen and it was all he could do to get his shoe’s back on.

The corporal electric material maintenance class was approaching completion, the class to participate in a field demonstration for visiting foreign V I P’s, and the scrambled egg ranked officers of the school command.   sergeant first class Stephens instructing his divergent group, going to great length to explain the subjectivity of their appearance as a constructive representatives of the missile school.  The members of CEMMC-2 culminating the curriculum, having been designated as the final graduating link in the program. the corporal missile was getting out ranked, a replacement having been developed, the sergeant,  a mobile solid propellant missile with a launch time platform of less than 90 minutes, compared to the 9 hours for the corporal, and would initiate it’s replacement starting in 1962.

The soldier wasn’t appeased with his commission in the V I P  missile demonstration exercise, preferring to showcase the test van, but was assigned to facilitate the generator truck.  One of the liabilities or assets, depending on one’s opinion, of the CEMMC-2 program, was the class being schooled in all the operational electrical  components  facilitating the missile’s preflight certification,  including the truck mounted generator supplying the three-phase power to the test van, and radar guidance command.  The cable connections accomplished, the generator powered up,  and communication cables between stations operational,   Gary having an opportunity to scrutinize the exposition in its entirety.   Sergeant Stephens, Tobin and Keys, accomplished the test-van,  with White and Martin assisting in cabling the launch control panel.   The Missile setup and flight simulation,  successfully demonstrated the operational continence of the Corporal,  apparently impressing the visiting dignitaries.  The  officials also impressed with the CEMMC-2 class’s performance,  acknowledging their professionalism.  As a show of recognition and appreciation,  relinquished the class,  from having to take part in the disassembly of the components used in the missile capability demonstration.

The class having fulfilled their mission, the soldiers falling-in, staff sergeant ross marching the formation back to the 2nd enlisted student battery only to be greeted by Sergeant Stephens wearing a callous expression.  The sergeant was abrupt with his displeasure, and in an unsettling tone giving an explanation.   during the visitors tour, a dignitary ask to see the mobile launch panel,  the cabled firing mechanism to launch the missile.  Sergeant Stephens and a conducting officer directing the luminary to the panel location,  pointing to the panel, starting an explanation about the firing procedure, but never finishing his sentence, realizing the firing mechanisms large red “push to fire” button was missing.  The sergeant stopping his explanation looking directly at Martin ,  “If the red firing button should appear on the battery’s duty sergeant’s desk in the next thirty minutes, the subject will be forgotten, no questions asked,  if not,  a full investigation will be made, and heads will roll”.  All those in the formation understood,  Martin’s recently acquired 1949 Ford would have to operate without a dashboard push to fire button.


Nuclear warheads class  commenced,  the final posturing in the completion of educational fabric in receiving their 214  Military occupational Specialty, MOS,   designated as a Field Artillery Corporal Missile Electric Technician.  Gary holding in his hand what resembled a shot put,  bestowed at high school track meets,  in reality a pound replica of the plutonium found in Fat Man,  the Nagasaki atomic bomb.   The weapons class instruction was classified secret,  giving a whispering intonation to its presentations, the non-spoken word was neutron nemo-initiators,  the bombs detonator design having been appropriated and passed on  to the Russians in 1945 by Ethel and Julius Rosenberg,  who were convicted and sentence to death in 1951, and electrocuted at Sing-Sing Penitentiary in 1953.

Gary finding the structural make-up of the atomic bomb very simplistic, the most complex achievement was the development  of the 32 nemo-initiators to obtain the perfect implosion.  Interesting was the regulating of the bombs barometer for proper altitude detonation,  but even more arresting was the missiles arming circuitry connection to the nuclear device, all inclusive of his MOS responsibility.  The final weeks of warhead school  projecting an atmosphere of conclusion, the ten members of CEMMC-2  all having fulfilled their goal, save one of the group, Lombardi, having failed the 33 week educational final and would remain at fort Sill,  reassigned for eight weeks of field artillery training and assigned to a field artillery unit.

Gary having some personal thoughts about the past ten months, questioning the purpose of acquisition, not questioning the reason,  but discovering his enthusiasm having  dimmed when confronted with fulfillment.  It was liken to a well drafted novel, an opening curiosity to get you hooked, an accomplished story line to keep you interested,  a satisfying conclusion enabling one to close the book with a feeling of attainment,  but for some reason this experience was non-existing..