A Sense Of Inanition………….#86 (the 60’s)

The 1st nuclear missile The Corporal

A sense of inanition prevailed, PFC Willson was the lone exception,  the entire compliment of CEMMC-2 graduates would traverse over-seas to Germany but the soldier would remain,  his new assignment,  a member of the 2nd Firing Battery,  2nd Missile Battalion,  80th Artillery,  one of two corporal missile units stationed at Fort Sill.  His envision of  a world adventure having been banished,  a relatively prosaic province having ascended and commissioned a prisoner.  Reporting for duty,  the new arrival discovering the battalion building almost vacant, being informed the unit was in the field on an exercise, but could find the duty officer in the mess hall.  Gary having little difficulty finding the mess hall knowing that most battalion size barracks have a mess hall at one end and a dayroom at the other.  Sitting in the mess hall was an elderly Warrant Officer,  the WO introducing himself as the firing battery’s technical adviser and that he was aware and expecting Gary’s arrival.  The soldier retrieving his duffel bag following the WO to a large second floor bay assigning him to an empty bunk and locker.  The WO continued his introduction to the unit with a brief walk thru, then requisitioning a jeep, the two traversing to the battalions exercise location on the west firing range.  The jeep coming to a halt,  dismounting they approach a group of officers, Gary surprised at being introduced to the battalion commander, the WO later explaining that Gary’s arrival filled the required compliment of four battalion missile technicians, two for each missile firing battery.

Gary discovering a missile battalion was much smaller than a field artillery battalion with 500 to 800 men, the missile battalion slimmed down to a compliment of less than 300,  the battalion consisting of two firing battery’s, a headquarters and service battery.  In addition to the two firing battery’s electrical maintenance and testing component there was assembly & rail, fueling & erection, fire control and guidance.  The headquarters & service battery are just what they implied, all the ancillary services, payroll, service record, , motor pool, mess, medical, etc..  The one element missing from a missile battalion application that was found in a field artillery battalion was a combat support company giving it the ability to defend  its location. The newly calibrated PFC entertained his new work stations surroundings,  anticipating an aura of proficiency and deference,  instead finding  an avocation of tolerance prevailing.   The trial of Guard Duty and KP once again infiltrated his established routine, spoiled by the 33 weeks of abstention during his missile training.  Tribulation was in possession, the fraternal atmosphere that inhibited the previous months having vanished,  replaced by deprivation of definition known as, ‘Another Field Artillery Battalion’.

PFC Clark was married and living off the post, having completed CEMMC school the previous year and  appeared reconciled to receive PFC Willson the newly acquired 2nd firing battery technician.   Clarke found his daily duty schedule rather mundane, appropriating it to a 8 to 5 job.  Gary could understand why, the cabling up practice drills were without challenge, but the missile battalion unit concurrence was.   After standing reveille at 0600, followed by Mess Call,  an 0800 muster at the motor pool convened and sanctioned the beginning of a day.  Gary finding the NCO’s on coffee and donut duty every morning until lunch.   The battalions field exercises  were coalesce with artillery units presenting a show of force,  capturing the various battalions convoys, their parading numbers generating acquisition of showmanship for an continuous array of visiting VIP’s.

Military License required

Military License required

Army 5 ton with 5 speed, 3 speed brownie, 2 speed axle

Specialist E-5  Crow was the peremptory of the motor pool and was diligent in his duty of insuring every truck returning from the field was properly imbued.   Upon instructions,  Gary was ordered by Crow to facilitate the wash-rack with his and Clark’s assigned  5 ton test-van.   The PFC un-ceremonially having to decline as directed,  the consternation of the E-5 was apparent until being informed by Willson that he didn’t possess a military drivers license and it would be a violation for him to get behind the wheel.   Arrangements were hastily scheduled, finding the Spec-5 Crown instructing the PFC to report for instructions and a driving test on the 5 ton.  Willson, tongue in cheek, having been raised by a truck driving father,  pleading inhibition difficulties with the shifting of the 5 speed, 3 speed brownie and 2 speed axle.   A somewhat frustrated Crow insisting he would render further instruction until achievement was accomplished.   It was during the third journey of instruction the PFC deciding it was time to halt the ruse,  finally relenting,  double-clutching  thru the gears utilizing the 3 speed browning, and engaging the 2 speed axle,  thwarting the ten-wheeler back to the motor pool.  Disembarking from his now assigned washable charge, trying not to acknowledge the look on the face of an astringent E-5 instructor, realizing that he was a marked man on Spec-5 Crow’s duty-list.

A beckoning friend

The town of Lawton was imperceptible, now devoid of acquaintances, the CEMMC-2 menagerie having departed, Gary as of yet discovering any collective substitutes, but a long neglected friend was available, The Ft. Sill service club and music room with its piano filled the PFC’s evenings several nights per week.  This particular night a well dressed person in civilian clothes entered the enclosed music room, sitting, listening to Gary play a variety of compositions.  Upon conclusion, the person introduced himself as Glenn, addressing the virtuoso, questioning if he had every given thought to performing and its possible financial reward.  The young soldier rising from the piano, declining to enter in conversation, dismissing the question as he exited.  It was only later, something within, an intuitive feeling emerging, recalling a passage he had once read, “the past may dictate who we are,  but we determine what we can become.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: