Friday, September 24, 2010

Flashback Friday # 106

Graduation from Basics

Hi. It's good to see you again (or for the first time, if that may be the case).

Today's post cover an exciting time in my brother's life. We got a letter from him in which he gave us the graduation date of his basic training exercises at Fort Leonard Wood. As the time approached, we packed up the car and made the 10 hour drive to Missouri. I had never been to Missouri before. The only states I had ever been to were Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia & Florida. I would get to go to Indiana, Illinois & Missouri on this trip.

When we got to Missouri, we got us a motel room and made our way onto the army base. I had never seen so many real tanks & cannons before in my life. These were all decommissioned, and set around the base like so much landscaping, but to a young teen, they were simply awesome.

We didn't get to see Gattabout before the commencement exercise. Since the forecast called for rain, they were held inside. We got to sit in the nosebleed section of the risers.

Each platoon marched in lead by their drill instructor. We scanned each soldier in each line to see if we could see which one was him. Finally, we spotted him, or were relatively certain it was him.

At the end, we finally got to see him. His long red hair had been close cropped.His wire framed glasses were replaced with black framed, "Clark Kent" specials. His military ID was even funnier. It was taken immediately after he was shorn. He looked completely bald in the picture. If we didn't know him by face only, we would have missed him.

He gave me the medal the was awarded on the rifle & grenade range. It's the one in the middle with the bars hanging from it that say "RIFLE" and "GRENADE". (He gave me all the others pictured here, but at different times)

He then treated us to lunch. All the family members who came for graduation were invited to dine in the mess hall. As you walked down the line, you had to specifically say the individual food item you wanted, or it wasn't put on your tray (IE: Meat. Potatoes. Gravy. Peas. Bread. etc.). I discovered that the kool-aid the served there was really, really sweet. Maybe that's what it tasted like if you followed the mixing directions. We had a scoop in the sugar canister, and Mom always told us just to put one scoop in.

As we were eating, Gattabout dropped a bombshell us. He told us of his intentions after basics. He was planning to go to jump school to become a paratrooper. "Jump out of a perfectly good plane?" exclaimed Mom, "Are you nuts?" He said that of the options available to him, this had the most potential. The one drawback was you had to be a high school graduate, or completed your GED to finish jump school. He told Mom that he was going back to school and getting his GED. She absolutely beamed.

That short period of time that he had been gone had made him grow up a lot. Who knew, perhaps the Army could make something good out of him?

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