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

The 1st nuclear missile The Corporal

A sense of inanition prevailed, 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 Firing Battery,  2nd Missile Battalion,  80th Artillery,  one of two corporal missile units 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 looking Warrant Officer,  the WO introducing himself as the firing battery’s technical advisor and that he was aware of 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 section.

Gary discovering a missile battalion size was  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 a firing battery, a headquarters and service battery.  The firing battery having  2 missile sections in addition to the electrical maintenance and testing 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 application found in a field artillery battalions 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 the newly acquired  soldier.   Clarke found his daily work 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 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,  the consternation of the E-5 was apparent until being informed by PFC 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,  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 washable charge, trying not to acknowledge the look on the face of an astringent 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, an understanding mentor of solace and a comforter of charge.  His fingers moved,  beckoning a response, questioning, would it still kindle recognition and free the bonds of certainty.   Immured not, it knew no horizon,  lifting its  inner confines to the outreach of  Nirvana,  he harnessed the challenge contending it compulsion and alas, it was again instilled, his friend the piano beckoned.  The Ft. Sill service club and music room 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 various structured musical sounds emitting from the piano.  Upon conclusion, the person introduced himself,  addressing the virtuoso about the possible financial reward for executing these very same sounds in town.   The young soldier sitting at the piano declined the offer,  but 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.”

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