||Close This Window To Return To Previous Page
I joined the Army on 19 Sept 1966 after receiving a
personal invitation from Uncle Sam;
You are ordered to report for induction .......
WHOA!!!!! - Not So Fast!
Invited? Induction? Drafted?? A Grunt !???! No No No
No No! I don't want to be a gravel grinder!
So I ran down to the local recruiting office and told them
of my plight. Things did not look good as my induction
date was less than three weeks away, 20 Sept. I was to
come back in 3 days to see what they could find me. What
a long 3 days.
Three days later I returned and was told the only opening
available was Clerk Typist School, would I be interested?
Lets see now, pencil pusher - gravel grinder. Well, that
was a tough one!
So, 1 day before my induction date, in the Federal
Building in Pittsburgh, PA, I raised my hand and
volunteered to be a pencil pusher for the next 3 years.
Well, we know how that turned out don't we?
Basic Training; Fort Gordon GA
We had a Company Admin building, 1 building for all
other company needs, a mess hall and 1 small barracks
for a single platoon. The other 2 platoons, one of which I
was in, were housed in tents.
Nothing out of the ordinary except that after a couple
weeks I started getting constant pressure from all the
Platoon Sergeants about going to OCS. And were they
good salesmen! They finally convinced me and I applied
for, tested for and was interviewed for OCS. About a
week before graduation I received notice that I had been
Graduation day came and all but about 10 of us went
home prior to their next assignment. What about the 10
of us? We had no orders so were being held over till
I had filled out a 'Dream Sheet' during the application
process and requested, in order, Quartermaster School,
Transportation School and a combat arms, Armor. I had
no idea where I'd be going.
About 2 weeks into the holdover I received my orders.
Fort Ord, Calif, Heavy Weapons Infantry School!
DAMN!!! I should have been a clerk typist!
The Military Years
|Fort Ord, California
Heavy Weapons Infantry School
After a non-stop flight from GA to Calif, we were bused to our company area at
Ft Ord, arriving about 2:00AM. We were greeted by a cordial individual who
identified himself as the Duty NCO. He showed us where we could sleep for the
night, then departed.
About 6:00 AM the next morning we were awakened, told where the mess hall
was and that breakfast was being served from 7:00 till 8:00AM. Making our way
there I was impressed by the cleanliness of the place. Freshly painted buildings,
newly paved streets, green grass and flowers. And this was in the company area!
WOW, this was alright.
In the Mess Hall was a sign that read, 'Take all you want, but eat all you take'.
That's the way I like it, plenty to eat. At the counter I was given a choice of eggs,
pancakes, SOS and a couple others I no longer remember. I said eggs and they
replied, 'How do you want them?' Are you kidding me? Yea, I thought. Over easy,
said I, and sure enough, that's how they made them. This wasn't going to be so
bad after all.
The rest of the day was spent processing in, drawing equipment, being assigned
to our quarters and getting to know others. All 10 of us holdovers were in this
company and 4 of them were from my hometown. The day went well and we
retired for the evening in comfort and looking forward to what tomorrow held.
Something went seriously wrong during the night. We were rousted out of bed
around 4:00AM by a screaming Sgt decked out in full battle gear. We were given
next to no time to dress, told to pack all our gear and report to the arms room
and draw weapons. Push at a rapid rate, we drew weapons and were quickly put
into 2 1/2 ton trucks that were arriving, getting loaded and leaving immediately.
All drivers were like wise dressed in full battle gear as were all company
personnel who were franticly running around. I also noticed that armed MP's
were posted at all buildings. There wasn't much time for thinking, things were
moving at a frantic pace, people were yelling orders and we moved out as soon
as the truck was full.
With all side and rear covers now tied down, we had no idea where we were
going. The truck was moving at a very high speed, the NCO on board was yelling
instructions about checking gear, tightening your chin straps and some things I
can't remember. Somebody finally asked him what was going on and he replied
that all he knew was we had been ordered for immediate deployment. Someone
yelled, 'we're a training unit', and the Sgt replied, 'Not no more son, you've been
I don't know how far we traveled but when we got there we were unloaded and
formed up with the rest of the men who were already there. Many had
camouflaged faces and those of us who didn't were given sticks and told to
paint our faces. There was lots of vehicles, plenty of noise, all kinds of Officers
and NCO's running around barking orders. Off in the distance, we could hear
what sounded like helicopters. We couldn't see much because it was so dark
and I thought it odd that we were standing in sand. But the one thing that was a
constant, was the look of fear and uncertainty on the faces of all us.
After what seemed like an eternity, the company was called to attention. As a
hush settled over the formation, the Company Commander began to speak.
Gentlemen, welcome to the Fort Ord Infantry Training School.
A-3-2 WETSU, an OCS Prep Training Company
Heavy Weapons Infantry
More about Ft Ord will be coming later
Lt Ken Leighty, US Army, Armor
|Ft Knox, Kentucky
US Army Armor School
Day 1 was spent in processing, but without all the niceties I experienced at Ft
Ord. They were firm, to put it gently, but civil and gave us, what we thought, was
some insight as to what to expect. Boy were we wrong!
Day 2 started out as harsh as the Ft Ord experience but at a level 10 times
greater. From the time you woke up till lights out there was somebody on your
case. It was face to face, toe to toe and nose to nose sheer terror. Your name
was the same as all the others, candidate! 'Give me 10', 'give me 20', 'give me 50',
'crawl up those steps', were the most often heard sentences. Hour after hour,
'make way', 'drop', 'on the floor', 'crawl', 'on your bellies', 'on your feet', attention!'.
It seemed like there was no end to the things they could make you do.
The only real break from it all was at meal time. But even then, you just couldn't
sit down and eat. You had to do it their way. At attention, first 4 inches of the
seat, hands on lap, look straight ahead, no talking. All movements with the hands
were done in a squared off pattern. Lift up, move over table, lower to utensil,
pick up move over plate, lower and retrieve food. Raise up, move to mouth,
insert, move back over table,lower utensil and release. Raise hand, move back
off table, lower to lap. Now chew! Bite after bite, meal after meal, it never
Days 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 - not much new to report. Any time spent around the barracks
area is a continuation of day 2. But new things are being added. We now have an
hour of PT every morning before breakfast. Room and personal inspections
begin immediately after breakfast and we are now beginning to go to classes.
We run to and from them.
The mental and physical aspect of it all is the real challenge at this point. But
that's the purpose behind it. They want to break you, either mentally or
physically. They want to take you beyond the limit of your endurance. They want
to see you crack, give up, call it quits. And they won't stop till they do it. Don't let
them see you waver, they'll only come down on you harder.
When they tire of what they're doing, they call in replacements. Senior
Candidates who are about to graduate, are given their chance to wreck havoc
on the company. It's their opportunity to put you through what somebody put
them through. It's a measure of revenge, a release of something that built up in
them over the course of the last 18 or more weeks. And they pursue it with a
savage vengeance. They are worse than the TAC Officers and they relish the
chance to 'welcome' you to the school. More than anything else, you wish they'd
leave and not return.
After 4 weeks we were halfway through the 'Basic Candidate' portion of the
course. There were fewer of us now, some had cracked and were sent packing.
For the rest of us, on this one weekend we are actually allowed to leave the
company area. We had a party down at the club!
After 8 weeks you entered the 'Intermediate Candidate' portion of the course.
Your basis black helmet liner now had a green stripe around. You wore green
tabs under your OCS insignias and your desk top blotter was green also. It made
you feel good.
One thing that didn't change was the PT. You had it everyday for 1 hour. But it
could be at any time now, not just in the morning. When they wanted to punish
you for something, PT was held in the 'attic' portion of the barracks. It was hot
and dusty and the floor was concrete.
A new form of harassment had crept into the picture. This was usually between
a TAC Officer and his platoon and came in many forms. But it was harassment
never the less. We always had inspection after breakfast and were expected to
have everything in perfect order. We were becoming pretty good at it and so the
change began to take place. You never knew what to expect, but be sure
something had been done to cause a failure of inspection.
One day we returned from breakfast and found our room had been toilet
papered, another day our beds had been overturned and another time dirt had
been scattered across the floor. It had a purpose, to see if we could fix the
problem before he arrived to inspect us. And he was like clock work, never late,
never early and never gave us much time. We always believed that this type of
harassment was meant to be given back. So we did! We toilet papered his office
one time, decorated it with balloons another and put a dead snake in his desk
drawer on another occasion. I think he loved it. He always retaliated sooner or
later. And so did we!
At the end of 18 weeks we passed from Intermediate to Senior Candidates. The
green was replaced by yellow and we were treated with more respect.
Inspections were more easily passed and weekend passes were pretty normal.
But when they wanted it so, inspections were impossible to pass. They knew
exactly where to find things they had never looked at before. When they wanted
to find dirt, they did!
We now walked to classes and quite often had transportation to areas we use
to run to. You began to feel like you had passed the grade and were being put
on an equal plane with them. But it was an uneven plane, one that they still
controlled and to keep you honest, they would lash out at you for no particular
reason other than to remind you who was in charge!
Closing in on 18 weeks, we were now within sight of our goal, that little gold bar.
And if you had made it this far, you had but 1 more obstacle standing in your way.
Mil-Stakes! The final exam and the culmination of everything you had learned. A
test of endurance, knowledge, speed and the ability to think and perform under
pressure. It started at around 4:00AM and would last the better part of the day.
The sooner you finished, the more points earned. But being correct was equally
I no longer remember all the details so I'll guess it was about 10 miles in
distance and covered about 32 stations. It was a long grueling day and earning
your commission depended on passing this test. Pressure right from the start.
The results of this test were known a little over a week before graduation.
Those that failed were sent to other companies for another try, recycled. Those
of us that passed now awaited orders of our next assignment. We had
previously made out 'Dream Sheets' and were asked to select 3 stateside and 3
overseas (1 had to be considered 'a hardship tour') stations. I asked for Fort
Ord, Fort Knox and Fort Dix as my stateside choices. My oversea choices were
Germany, Alaska and Korea.
For the first time since I had enlisted, my orders arrived on time, I was being
sent to Korea!
|2nd Infantry Division
Camp Beard, Korea
A Co 2nd BN 72nd Armor
Plt Ldr, Maint Officer
Oct 1967 - May 1968
Recreation Center #4
Jun 1968 - Nov 1968
|Fort Knox, Kentucky
194th Armor Brigade
A Co 4/37th Armor
Company Maint Officer
BN Transportation Officer
Dec 1968 - Sept 1969
Sept 1969 to Present - Civilian
|Close This Window To Return To Previous Page