Trading remarks with LL (Virtual Mirage https://www.virtualmirage.org) stirred a 50+ year old memory.
“Son, you’ve done this before”, said the kindly SFC teaching us newby Combat Engineers starting our week of barbed wire training. “I’m making you my assistant instructor”.
“So, when someone tightens the wire tell it breaks, it will wrap around my legs instead of yours?” smartass WSF replied.
“I knew you were experienced”, he replied with a grin.
Old family joke, a favorite of my mother, was the two most glamour’s cowboy jobs was fixing fence and bucking bales. Of course, the Army decided to make me a Combat Engineer so I could build barbed wire barriers and stack sandbags.
So began a very long week. The one bright spot was the SFC remarking, as an NCO, he couldn’t knock sense into a trainee. On the other hand, as a Private, I could so long as he didn’t see it (hint, hint, hint).
Interesting time in that training cycle. We were mid cycle when President Kennedy was murdered. Prior to that, I was well on my way to not earning a Good Conduct Medal (drowning a civilian in edible garbage https://wellseasonedfool.blogspot.com/search?q=KP)
among other misdeeds that weren’t in accord with good discipline, etc. insured that.
I think the real reason I graduated was to ship me off to be someone else’s problem (hello, 814th Engineer Company).
Enroute, the unauthorized absence at Ft Dix waiting to board a troop ship wasn’t well received.
My partner in crime, Tom O’Connor, understood shipping schedules and thought three days in Boston seeing his girlfriend beat three to four days of shit details at Ft Dix. Can’t have your buddy facing danger alone, can you? Plus, his girlfriend had a cute sister. We managed to bluff our way out of that. Easier to throw us on the bus to the Brooklyn dock then do all that messy paperwork.
In a way, being in the engineers was a stroke of luck. The engineers were a rowdy bunch, from the lowest private to the First Sergeant. If you were a worker, did your job and could be counted on, many things were overlooked. If you were a slacker, life got real hard real quick.
Just to be clear, choices were to volunteer for the First Sergeants extra hour’s projects, or see the Company Commander for an Article 15. There were no free rides.
The irony was both O”Connor and I made E-5, he a Sergeant and me a SP 5.
LL mentions landmines. Most had been cleared by the time I
was there. One place, not so much, the Hurtgen Forest. Horrible WWII
battle, 30,000+ Allied casualties. In 1965 there were still areas fenced off.
We spent ten days there. We would take a section a meter wide and work our way
through in a straight line stringing det cord behind. Move over, do the same,
etc. After ten or so corridors, the det cord would be set off and the Munson
effect would (in theory) set off anything explosive. Nasty work. Hell of a way to make an extra
$55 a month. Our equipment was all WWII vintage plus ice picks for probes. The
place was littered with moldering military detritus. We left it alone and
worked around it. That old helmet just might be booby trapped. I was glad I
only went there once.
Old AF Sarge is writing stories about WWII and one place nearby he uses as a scene
is Kreuzau. We bivouacked nearby.
Worth reading his series, IMO.