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A Liberal Veteran Speaks Out On Veterans Day

11 November 2008
army-pictures-05

The author, 1969

Almost 40 years ago to the day, a skinny kid from Oklahoma rode a little green Army bus through the picturesque tower gate into Pinder Barracks in Zirndorf, Germany.  That US Army private was me.  It is hard to believe that it has been 40 years, but it has been.  Richard Nixon had just been elected President of the United States, an election I was deemed too young, at 19, to have voted in.  It would be four more years before I would have my first chance to vote in a presidential election.

Being from a very conservative state like Oklahoma, I was full of conservative ideas about life and my nation.  It is often said that service in the military will make a man of you, and while I’m not sure that is true, I know that I was a very different person when I left Zirndorf a year and a half later to come back home to Oklahoma.  While I see many of my fellow veterans embrace a very conservative political view, for me the experience of being in the Army was enlightening in a way that brought me to a firm belief in liberal values.

Being the product of segregated schools, I had very little contact with peers of color.  They were considered in my circles to be “less thans” that didn’t belong at drug store lunch counters or in our classrooms.  That kind of segregated thinking continued as I reached adult life and went into the workforce.  There were a few black employees in low-level positions in the bank I got a job at in Tulsa, but I didn’t socialize with them, and only knew them from work.  Even through basic and advanced training in the Army, my friends were other white guys, mainly a guy named Ron Hucke from Nebraska who I went all the way through my Army experience with.

Pinder Barracks front gate, Zirndorf, Germany 1995

Pinder Barracks front gate, Zirndorf, Germany 1995

But as Hucke and I arrived through the gate of Pinder Barracks to our duty station, the 2d Battalion, 16th Artillery, we came into a new world populated by a homogeneous group of fellow draftees from all over the nation.  We were the only two from the Great Plains.  We were separated from each other at that point by being placed in different batteries of the unit and taking rooms on different floors of the barracks.  But we remained good friends.

As I remember it, Hucke’s battery, B Battery, was a little more what we called gung-ho in their approach to military duty.  Mine, A Battery, on the other hand resembled the TV show M*A*S*H.  I was suddenly exposed to a multi-racial, multi-ethnic world I had never known before.  The unit was full of free thinkers, a radical concept in military circles, and rebels who didn’t subscribe to spit-and-polish conventions of lock-step military life.  Instead of Elvis and Merle Haggard, we listened to The Beatles, The Doors, Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendricks and Led Zeppelin, and we took a memorable trip to Munich to attend a Steppenwolf concert.

Art Exhibit in Nurnberg Gallery

Art Exhibit in Nurnberg Gallery, 1969

The main thing I learned from my experience was that there were “people of color” who were intelligent, thoughtful and fun to hang around with.  I also was exposed to a culture much different from the one I had left behind in Oklahoma.  Zirndorf was a suburb of Nurnberg, and that city had art museums and night life the likes of which I had never before seen.  It was the 1960s, and the whole Western World was exploding with a cultural revolution that was evident even in a city of Germany that many Germans considered provincial. Then, of course, there was the magical mystique of living

Kaiserburg Castle, Nurnberg

Kaiserburg Castle, Nurnberg

in a place that displayed its historical architecture at every turn of the street.  Albrect Durer, the painter who gave Western Civilization the portrait of Jesus Christ that we have embraced to be correct – of course historically, it couldn’t be – lived in Nurnberg.  He also was the artist who sketched the famous “Praying Hands” that everyone has seen.  It has a medieval wall around its old city, and a Holy Roman Empire castle crowning its center.  It was a wonder to the eyes of a country boy from Oklahoma.

Spc 4 Dale Warner, Indiana, MSgt "Woodie" Woodruff, Chief of Smoke, the author.

In the field at Grafenwoer. Front to back: Spc 4 Dale Warner, Indiana, MSgt "Woodie" Woodruff, Chief of Smoke, the author, Oklahoma.

But it was the interpersonal relationships that I developed with guys from New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, West Virginia, California, Alabama, Washington State, Virginia and other states, that shaped my thinking for the last 40 years.  All of these guys, from all these places — representing blacks, Hispanics, Italian-Americans, Portuguese-Americans, southern whites, Mid-western whites, and western whites — gave me a national view that was too expansive to ignore as I moved forward with my life.  They were my friends, my comrades, and we worked well together.  Oh, yes, the Colonel – the “Old Man” as we called him – didn’t respect our lack of discipline when we were back in our home base, but when we went on maneuvers to Grafenwoer (GRAF-en-veer) to fire Honest John rockets, we were a well-oiled machine that always scored exemplary marks for our professionalism and accuracy on the target.

Firing an Honest John rocket, Grafenwoer, Germany, May 10, 1969

Firing an Honest John rocket, Grafenwoer, Germany, May 10, 1969

It made me realize that you don’t have to be narrow in your views in order to achieve your goals in life.  It made me realize that we weren’t all that different beneath exterior appearances.  It made me realize that a diverse group could pull together to get things done.  It made me realize that the sum of all Americans was greater than one single group.  It changed my life, and it changed my thinking.  It changed me in a most profound way.  It turned an Oklahoma conservative into an American Liberal.  And I have never forgotten my comrades and the principles I learned at their sides.  It was one of the greatest adventures of my life, and in the early days of my return to Oklahoma, I missed it greatly.  I often had to talk myself down by realizing that, like me, my friends were no longer there.  They, too, had returned to their homes and their other lives.

Lt. Jim McKenna, Pennsylvania and the author, his driver.

Lt. Jim McKenna, Pennsylvania and the author, his driver.

In time, as I moved on to other great adventures of my own, the feelings of missing Pinder Barracks and my friends faded into fond memories.  In 1995, 25 years after I left Zirndorf, I returned on vacation.  It was great to see it all again and eat at my favorite restaurant, having a Das Gute Zirndorfer Bier after so long.  But it wasn’t the same as I remembered it.  You see, the people — the most important ingredient in any experience — were gone.  So it was an architectural and culinary tour of my past, enjoyable but not as satisfying as I might have hoped.  But I would always like to return for another visit.  When all is said and done, it is a charming town near a charming city.  So if you ever get a chance to go there, I highly recommend it.

Pinder revisited, 1995

Pinder revisited, 1995

All of that nostalgia having been shared, it brings me to the thing I would really like to say today on Veterans Day, my day.  I have been both insulted and troubled by the attacks waged on those of us who are liberal veterans by the Republican Party and their lock-step followers.  I, and many others like me, served our country when called and came away with a different view of our society.  We came away with a belief in the core values of a nation that allows free speech and the right to peacefully disagree with our government without being branded as unpatriotic or traitorous.  I was particularly gratified to see the defeat of such ideologues last week and look forward to a great future for the nation I served and love, a future that values all of its citizens and their viewpoints.  I look forward to feeling like I could join my local VFW without fear of being blackballed because I’m not a Republican.  In my part of the country that wish may not be within grasp, but I will hold out the hope nonetheless.

army-logo-a army-logo-b

If you know a veteran, give them a hug or at least thank them for their service to our country, today.  No matter how they feel about the issues of the day, each one of them took the time out of their personal lives to serve their country and preserve our freedoms.  They deserve our support and respect.

KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Joshua Poulsen permalink
    11 November 2008 3:09 pm

    On the 11th Day of the 11th month each year, Americans come together to honor those in uniform, the ones who sacrificed for our nation, on Veterans Day. As a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan, War on Terror, I urge everyone to take this day to not just thank a veteran, but to talk with veterans. Learn about how our experiences have shaped our lives and what issues we face as we make our transitions back to civilian life. I would like to explain my side of the story, my own experience.

    When I joined the military I was a young, confused kid, who did not know much about life, due to being sheltered for most of my life by my over protective parents. I did not know much about the war, just that I was enraged at the hatred those terrorists had for all Americans and me. I wanted to help my country, to protect it at all cost, even giving up my life to do so. It may sound funny but when I initially tried to enlist in the military, I was to be a military post-man, but the job had already been taken. Since I am color-blind, I wasn’t able to have a range of opportunities in the military. My placement was therefore in Mortuary Affairs Specialist. I felt that I grew up quicker in my years in service than most people do in their whole lifetime.

    I was nineteen years old on February 8th, 2002. It was kind of cold for Phoenix as I reached the Airport headed to Fort Jackson, in South Carolina for basic training. Upon reaching Fort Jackson, referred by some in the service as relaxant Jackson, I found that the life I had chosen would not be as easy as I thought. Those first couple of days I got a hair cut, issued uniforms, and learned the waiting line for training was long. During this time, since 9/11, there was a mass influx of new recruits; the Army had problems finding them units to train in. For me I was lucky kind of, since I had a school date that did not come around very often, they tried to offer me another job, but I turn them down, I was shipped from Fort Jackson, then to Fort Lenderwood Missionary. The Ozark Mountains are cold and during winter, it was unbearable. It was an extreme change for me because I was mostly familiar with the hot weather in Phoenix, AZ. Exercising and running in extreme weather with being out shape was horrible. There was no special treatment for anyone but the drill sergeants made me work twice as hard. The treatment I received was something similar to a movie, where the fat kid got picked on and abused, but it was some thing I needed in order to become who I need to be. Despite this, I worked hard, did everything I was ordered to do, and eventually I graduated from boot camp with a new physique. During graduation, my fellow recruits honored me with “The Most Changed Person” reward, the Order of the Dragoon.

    I was off to my next challenge, training for my MOS. When I reached Fort Lee, Virginia, I missed my start date and had to wait for the next one. This meant that I couldn’t get a pass to go anywhere; I had to just sit at the barracks, clean the floors, and do KP duty. After awhile this routine got incommodious. I was so happy on Memorial Day 2002, because the next day I was scheduled to start school. Then all of a sudden, I had horrible stomach pains, and could not figure what it was. So I was sent me off to the ER, the doctors initially diagnosed appendix problems. The one-hour surgery was then scheduled immediately, however it took five hours to complete. Apparently, my appendix had been ruptured for over a month including basic training. The surgeons said I am so lucky to be alive. I got a month off to recover and relax. When I got back to Fort Lee, I had to wait another month for class, so eventually when I got to school; I did my best to learn about my job and almost graduated at the top of my class. The reason why I did not graduate at the top of my class was due to my stomach muscles not fully recovering, which made doing sit-ups very hard. I did it because I wanted to join my unit at Fort Lee.

    My feelings of excitement and wanting to serve were still in tact even after months of prolong waiting and recovery. In order to be all that I could be, to be the best, I exceed my own abilities by 120%. The mindset I had, came a long way (physically from Phoenix and mentally from the first story I heard about the terrorist attacks), I had really changed for the better. In the first year, I received my first (minor) medal, the Army Achievement Medal. With this acknowledgement from the Army, I wanted to speed up my deployment overseas to Afghanistan, but that wasn’t going to happen until March 18th 2003. According to orders, my team that I was assigned to from my unit wasn’t schedule to arrive in Iraq first. Instead, I worked in the Theater Mortuary Affairs Evacuation Point, a place that went nonstop for the first three months.

    Sleep was limited to when I did not hear a helicopter, and when body’s slowed down coming in. In the states I had worked at the Richmond Morgue, but war was different. Instead of just seeing some one you did not know in the states, in Kuwait you learn to know every one, due to them wearing the same uniform, and inventorying all their personal effects, you knew who they wear when they left. Not only was our job to process Americans, but we also helped process British, and any other Allies. During this time I saw the mistakes we made, such as shooting British helicopter down with Sam missiles, and killing Brazilin journalist when we hit the wrong building, during that time I saw the horrors that mankind was possible of. I start experiences, problems, and tried to seek medical help, but I was deferred and told I would be fine. My excitement had come to an end, and I start to get in trouble, pretty soon my 1st Sgt, thought that I was not experiencing enough of the war, so he sent me to the Iraq, Camp Alsad. In Camp Alsad, was slow, but became difficult. Some of the soldiers I ate with at the chow hall, and knew were head on a rest and relaxation mission, but instead of making it, their helicopter was shot down. My team had to go clean the site, recover the bodies, and inventory their belongings. Man life is tough, but even tougher if you know the people. There were two other tough missions. The first were, when three Special Forces soldiers had been killed, when they were given orders not to shoot into a crowd even if they were receiving fire, not only did we have to process their bodies, but we also had to process the bodies of the people who had killed them. We are mortuary affairs first, and as such we have a moral obligation not to look at uniform, or lack of one, but to look at the person and understand their journey had come to a end, and it was our job to treat them with respect because every one has family and friends that care for them, it was not are job to judge right or wrong, which is very hard. The second tough mission was when we went with a convoy head to a site, that they had reportedly killed Sadam Husain, but in fact the compound was filled with animals and women and children. I do not think the Air Force meant to kill them, they were trying to do there job in following cell phone singles, and when they split, they went after the most likely target. On this mission two things had happened. One back in Alsad I was having bad night terrors, but the person in charge of my team figured the answer was not sending me back, but instead was to put me on night duty, and to change the location I slept on, in the location I was, this almost spelled disaster for me and my friend, when I woke up and started to scream at the top of my lungs, the people sleeping around the truck react and were about to shoot in the back of the truck, when my Sgt yelled stop he is just dreaming, oh thank god. The second thing is as I stated before, we are trained to respect the dead, and their belongings. This did not transfer to the people there, instead they were ordered to bury everything, destroy all evidence and move on. That pretty much covers Iraq.

    When I got back to the states, I faced many hardships under the care of the Army. I am like millions of other veterans dealing with mental and physical scars of war. Most Americans will never know about these issues because it is not covered in the news or articles. The Army has become a two-sided issue for me; it was once a place where I wanted to succeed at being a great solider and fight for our rights and our country. Now that I came home I am still fighting another battle, however, this fight, I fight alone. I am trying to cope with sudden flashbacks, traumatizing combat events, hyper-vigilance to the recurrence of danger, feelings of numbness, low self-esteem, rage, and lapses in concentration. All of these have caused me to descend in my quality of life. I thought the Army and my unit would continue to care for me, treat me as a fellow solider, and assist me with finding resources for coping and healing. However, this was not the case, my unit classified me as a troublemaker, an unfit solider. As a result, they discharged me out of the Army abruptly without taking responsibility for the causes of my PTSD illnesses. Like other soldiers, I tried to reach out for help but once the system failed, I tried to commit suicide twice during my service. Luckily, both times, one of my few friends stopped me. This incident put me in a mental hospital involuntarily, where they doped me up on strong medicines, and no one cared to seek the reasons behind the action. I wasn’t allowed to receive my care at the Army hospital, because if procedures were followed, there would have been a long investigation and no one wanted to take the time to take care of their wounded soldiers with PTSD. Instead, I was discharged immediately with personality disorder. This seems to be the common practice for the Army, not just in my case but also 20,000 other veterans. At 5 P.M. September 16, 2004, my last official orders from the Army were, TO GET OUT!! Heavily medicated, I received my car keys, and was told to drive over 5000 miles, all the way home to Phoenix, Arizona. My feelings that proscribed afterwards are indescribable.

    Even though I am still in my own body, this whole experience has shaped my life. Following my physical return home to Phoenix, AZ, I, however, didn’t return home with my state of mentality. My homecoming wasn’t what I imagined, that is because it was based on tv and movies I’ve seen about returning soldiers as hero’s. I became hospitalized time and time again.

    Don’t worry, my story gets better and does have a great beginning. This new chapter in my life begins with the chance meeting the love of my life, my wife. With her continued support, I am able to handle some things on my own. A great support system, love, understanding, and patience, is what I think all soldiers should have and receive upon their return home. After all, the important issue is that we are all humans! With the good and the bad, we will always have our memories.

    So on this Veterans Day and every day the best way to honor our veterans is to connect with them. So please remember and honor our fellow humans, our veterans. Without recognition from our family and friends, it doesn’t seem like all of our efforts make a difference. Many of us new veterans are being left behind, we have honored you by defending your rights, and all we ask is to welcome us home.

    Sincerely,
    Joshua C. Poulsen
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran

  2. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    11 November 2008 4:26 pm

    Dear Joshua,

    Your story moves me to tears as I sit here. Thank you, so much, for sharing it with my readers. I am honored that you have shared it with me.

    While I was playing “M*A*S*H in Germany, a terrible war, much like the two you served in, was raging in Vietnam. It was the practice of the US Army at that time to send soldiers who were deemed too mentally traumatized to go back to The States to finish out their time in Germany. Several of them came to my unit toward the end of my time there. Your story bears a close resemblance to theirs. It is a shame that in 40 years the military leaders of our nation haven’t learned the lessons of Vietnam.

    A few years ago I happened to be on a business trip to Washington, D.C., and had my only chance to visit the Vietnam War Memorial. I was moved to tears by all the names on that wall because I knew that each one of them could have been me, and perhaps they were there in my place.

    I, for one, am glad you are home, young man. And I welcome you and your comrades back to the nation you have so valiantly served. Your war, like the one of my fallen comrades, doesn’t seem to have a triumphant homecoming parade.

    Congratulations on your marriage, and may you find great happiness for the rest of your life. All I ask you is to remember your experiences enough to speak out when you are an old veteran like me against your nation and mine making the same kind of mistakes as you have suffered.

    This old veteran salutes you!

  3. 13 November 2008 3:54 pm

    God Bless both of you and God Bless and protect all our men and women in Service. We must continue to defend them when they come home as they have defended us overseas.

  4. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    14 November 2008 10:00 am

    To: Willpen,

    Thanks for your continuing support.

  5. David Marshall permalink
    1 October 2010 8:15 am

    Left behind?

    “[ Footnote 4 ] The intelligence community believed that it was necessary “to conceal these activities from the American public in general,” because public knowledge of the “unethical and illicit activities would have serious repercussions in political and diplomatic circles and would be detrimental to the accomplishment of its mission.” Id., at 394 (quoting CIA Inspector General’s Survey of the Technical Services Division, p. 217 (1957)).” See [Footnote 4 of IV] U.S. 709 U.S. Supreme Court 1987 STANLEY military experiment case. [3] The “Veterans Right to Know Act” to establish the Veterans’ Right to Know Commission was proposed in the 2005 and H.R. 4259 [109th] 2006 Congress.[9] In accordance with the ongoing greater good necessity “to conceal these activities…” a veteran’s right to get the U.S. Senate’s “designed to harm” needed for treatment, and experiment identifying, evidence never became law.

    To-date rejected is the U.S. Senate 1994 Report’s, “The Feres Doctrine should not be applied for military personnel who are harmed by inappropriate human experimentation when informed consent has not been given.”[8] Despite the 16 of 66 year efforts of some, the U.S. Congress has failed to protect service personnel from “to harm” experiments. Therefore, do not the U.S. Senate’s reported Department of Defense (DOD) “EXPERIMENTS THAT WERE DESIGNED TO HARM” [8] continue? All conducted under the cover of Patriotism!

    Please have your members in the U.S. Congress give back to service personnel and veterans those rights that convicted rapists and murderers keep, e.g., “Written policy and practice prohibit the use of” [prison] “inmates for medical…..experiments.”! See page 13 of 14, REF: [6] The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1987 STANLEY [3] “to harm” DOD experiment is approved by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1950 FERES [1] ‘can do no wrong, ends justify the means’ Doctrine. The STANLEY case is one of the U.S. Senate’s 1994 “During the last 50 years, hundreds of thousands of military personnel” were subjected to “experiments that were designed to harm”, e.g., the reported biological and chemical agents, radiation exposure, hallucinogenic and investigational drugs, experimental vaccines and behavior modification projects.[8] It is a dereliction of duty in direct disobedience of the DOD Secretary’s 26 February 1953 NO non-consensual, human experiments.[2] During the U.S. Senate’s reported past 50 years, most of the “to harm” service records were destroyed in a 1973 National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) fire. Congress’s 1974 Privacy Act censored experiment verifying witnesses from any surviving records!

    After the 1987 STANLEY, Congress passed the 1988 Veterans’ Judicial Review Act (VJRA).[4] Established was the Legislative, Article I severely restricted, U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals. In 1994 its Chief Judge stated, “The Court simply identifies error made below by a failure to adhere, in individual cases, to the Constitution, statutes, and regulations which themselves reflect policy — policy freely ignored by many initial adjudicators whose attitude is, “I haven’t been told by my boss to change. If you don’t like it — appeal it.”[7] Congress dictated that, “The court may not review the schedule of ratings for disabilities or the policies underlying the schedule.”[4] Given to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) is the Judicial Branch’s final authority on “the policies underlying the schedule” questions of law![5]

    Each “to harm” experiment completes a Research and Development (R&D) process. Prior R&D is reviewed. The resulting Scope of Work defines what each experiment is “designed” to accomplish. The how, where, when and who is identified. The conducted RESEARCHED cause and effects are closely followed and recorded. From the results are DEVELOPED safe production, use, victim treatment and protection. Accordingly, at the time known are the recorded and withheld “designed to harm” resultant “schedule” disabilities with their identifying symptoms and treatment. Ignored by the U.S. Congress is the service personnel rights lost vs. prison inmate kept!

    Overlooked by many in Congress is our “Pledge of Allegiance” “with liberty and justice for all” and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ignored own, carved in stone over its entrance, “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW”!

    REFERENCES:

    [1] 1950 – Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135, 146 (1950). http://supreme.justia.com/us/340/135/case.html

    [2] 1953 – DOD Secretary’s 26 February 1953 NO non-consensual, human experiment’s Memo pages 343-345. George J. Annas and Michael A. Grodin, “The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code; Human Rights in Human Experimentation” (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

    [3] 1987 – U.S. SUPREME COURT, JUNE 25, 1987, U.S. V. STANLEY , 107 S. CT.. 3054 (VOLUME 483 U.S., SECTION 669, PAGES 699 TO 710). http://supreme.justia.com/us/483/669/case.html

    [4] 1988 – Veterans’ Judicial Review Act (VJRA), Pub. L. No. 100-687, Div. A, 102 Stat. 4105 (8 December 1988) DVA-Chapter 4 and http://law.jrank.org/pages/6784/Federal-Courts-Court-Appeals-Veterans-Claims.html#ixzz0MIKbF8ND

    [5] “United States Code (USC) Title 38, 511. Decisions of the Secretary; finality.” US CODE: Title 38511. Decisions of the Secretary; finality.

    [6] 1994 – U.S. State Dept., “U.S. Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights July 1994, Article 7 – Freedom from Torture, or Cruel, Inhuman
    or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” Electronic Research Collections (ERC)

    [7] 1994 – Chief Judge and colleague statements, Court of Veterans Appeals, Annual Judicial Conference, Fort Meyer, VA., 17 & 18 October 1994. Chief Judge Frank Nebeker’s Statement STATE OF COURT – – – URL: http://www.firebase.net/state_of_court_brief.htm

    [8] 1994 – December 8, 1994 REPORT 103-97 “Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans’ Health? Lessons Spanning Half a Century.” Hearings Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, 103rd Congress 2nd Session.

    [9] 2005 & 2006 – “Veterans Right to Know Act” to establish the Veterans’ Right to Know Commission was proposed in the 2005 and H.R. 4259 [109th] 2006 Congress. H. R. 4259.

    • 2 October 2010 9:47 am

      Wow, man! That’s a lot to digest. I hope everyone can at least begin to understand how the secrecy of our government works against us most of the time. Thanks for the in-depth look behind the wizard’s curtain.

  6. Marc J Atteberry permalink
    20 January 2013 12:26 am

    Hello all. I was stationed at Pinder Barracks from 1985-86. Alpha Btry, 1st Bn 22nd FA 1st AD (First Battalion, Twenty-Second Field Artillery, of the First Armored Division) Old Ironsides.

    I understand, that after Desert Storm, the unit never returned to Germany, but was sent to Macedonia, to act as peace keepers, during the Yugoslavian conflict, and then deactivated, and disbanded. The unit had also served in WW1 and WW2 with distinction.

    My first assignment in 1985, (they asked in my FIRST day there, if anyone wanted to “Volunteer” for a new position”and I watched my hand shoot up!) I was then assigned to drive for a Lieutenant Mike Boulegeris. He was a Fair man, and a Great leader. Although I was pretty young at the time (19-20) I learned much from him, and often think back on some the life lessons, he imparted on me. I arrived there an E-2, and left an E-4 (Spec-4). One frustrating day, I tried to quit one day, and he looked at me and said “YOU CANT QUIT ATTEBERRY!” I thank him, for making me stick with it!
    I also recieved a unit citation, for being the ONLY Gamma Goat Driver to have my vehicle ready for EVERY field exercise, and EVERY Alert! (the “Goat” was known as a real piece of CRAP! Prone to brake, and driveline failures. I even remember one fellow Goat driver, (Sp4 Brian Stuart) ramming me, and then Hurling past our convoy, only to fly off into a field, hit a creek, and flip over on its side! No major injuries, but another victim of brake failure!

    We used the then M109A2, 155MM Self propelled Howitzers, with the Old M548 tracked ammo carriers.
    As a driver, I drove a M564 ‘Gama Goat’ Truck, cargo, 1½-ton, articulated 6 wheel drive and 4 wheel steering (2 front and 2 rear) that I affectionately called “Armstrong Steering” as it was manual, and made my arms, STRONG!
    My second position was as Armorer. I greatly enjoyed this position as well. We still had the M16A2, and the side arms was still the M1911A2 as well. Shortly after I left, they switched to the 9MM beretta.
    Also my last official duty, before clearing and ETS’ing, was to strip the box off the back of the Gamma Goat, clean it out, and DX it (exchange it) for the then new, HMMWV (Humvee). Unfortunately, it was not ready that day, so my replacement got to get it the following day, and I was never cleared to drive it!
    I enjoyed my time there, and often relive those fun days of my youth, with great and fond memories.

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