Friday, April 10, 2015

My Fort Hood Experience

I joined the Army in June 1961 and last saw Fort Hood in 1963 when I went to Korea. I will never forget my arrival at Fort Hood. I started off the day in Galena Park where I graduated from high school a few weeks earlier. I had a good friend, Tommy that talked me into joining the army paratroopers to jump out of airplanes. The day we left, the recruiter called our home phones to confirm he could come by in an Army car to pick the two of us up. At that point, I called my mom and told her I was leaving to join the Army – this was the first time I had mentioned it to my parents. My dad showed up at home soon after my talk with Mom and told me goodbye and gave me his shaving kit. Mother was some upset and I am sure Dad was also, but he did not let on.

At the Houston Army Recruitment office we met several others that were going to Fort Hood with us. They swore us in and gave us train vouchers, and then took us to the train depot in Houston, which is now Minute Maid Park, where the Astros play home games. We rode the train with a group of soldiers that had finished basic and were going to Fort Polk in Louisiana for Advanced Infantry Training. They told us how cruel the Army sergeants were and warned us about the square needle they had to use to inject medication into our testicles. I looked at this group of soldiers and decided if they could do it, so could I – that was the end of my worries.

About ten pm we got to the depot in Killeen and got off the train. There was almost no lights and two guys in uniform started hollering at us to get in line. It took a few minutes of hollering before we stood straight enough to be allowed to get on their two and one-half ton truck, commonly known as a deuce and a half. I was laughing inside at all the screaming. I thought it was funny, but I did not say so and certainly did not smile. They got us aboard the truck and took us to join several other truckloads of recruits and then took us to an empty field about the size of two football fields with grass knee high. They told us we were having police call. That was new terminology to me and I did not know what to do. Someone yelled, “Move out.” Everyone started walking and I did what they did. Soon one of the screamers came over and chastised me for not picking up a snow-cone cup. At that point I found out police call means picking up the trash. I would never have guessed.

Next we all went back to the barracks where we were we were issued sheets and pillows, then divided up by first, second and third floors. Then they sent us inside to pick out a bunk and go to bed. All the time they were screaming at us to hurry up. I was on the third floor and running, we had to go single file up the stairs, so our speed was limited by the slower stair climbers. They screamed some more and told us we were too slow and sent us all back outside to do it again. Getting in formation and standing in straight lines seemed very difficult for this particular group of new soldiers. I figured we would get more practice the next day. When they finally got us in a formation they were happy with, they explained we had to be quick in case of fire, so I guessed we were in the midst of a fire drill. We ran up the stairs and back down several more times before they were satisfied with our performance. Somewhere in there I figured this was not a fire drill. We finally got to bed about two am and were told to get right to sleep, because 6 am was reveille. That made me feel right at home, as sleeping four hours per night was normal for me.

My winter class "A" uniform

A soldier I o not remember with me at Fort Hood.

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