PERMANENT ASSIGNMENT The Army definition.
After a few days at Ft Leonard Wood I was eating the evening meal in the cafeteria when a group of soldiers came in. To my surprise Tommy Lamm was among them. They were all medics who had been reassigned. Tommy and I were able to have the same assignments until I left Ft Wood for Vietnam in August 1967. Tommy stayed there a while longer before he was sent to Hawaii and later to Vietnam.
I had some concerns about being assigned to a hospital as an orderly. Some of the responsibilities are not that pleasant. To my satisfaction, however, I was assigned to the hospital supply room. My job most of the time was to take orders from the dispensaries in the outlying parts of the post and deliver supplies. I drove a little Ford van most of the time. In making my rounds I learned all the short cuts and back roads on post.
Army life was much easier than I thought it would be. Everyone had to be in formation to answer roll call and hear the announcements for the day at 5:30a.m. Then it was off to breakfast at the hospital cafeteria (not mess hall). All meals were custom cooked and not rushed. After breakfast I reported for work and at the end of the day I was free until roll call at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. At the end of the day Friday I was off until 5:30 a.m. Monday.
My sister and brother-in-law gave me a ten-year old Chevy so I had transportation. Every weekend the old car was full of G.I.s headed somewhere. We went to St. Louis, Lake of the Ozarks, or sightseeing near the post. On several occasions I went home. I would pass the word and the first five who contacted me got the ride. We would leave Missouri at 5:30 Friday afternoon and drive all night. Everyone had called home so that someone would meet them and they would be at home for Saturday morning. Sunday afternoon we would meet and head back.
In June of 67 when Israel started what is known as the Six Day War. Ft Leonard Wood was locked down. Transport planes were flown in at the airport. We were on alert to go to the middle east, All of a sudden there was an issue more pressing than Vietnam, The planes were lined up with their bay doors open and shipping crates ready to load. Fortunately, Israel took care of business and post activities went back to normal.
1967 was a carefree summer. I had exciting places to go, an old car to get me there, good food provided, a safe and clean place to sleep and on top of that they gave me a check every month. Gomer Pile, Forrest Gump, and Bud Roach never had it so good.
One of my best friends at Ft Wood was Bob Hansen, the company clerk. He called me one day in late August and said my port call for Vietnam had come down. A port call came usually about a week in advance of orders. Bob said he would cut the orders that day and I could leave as soon as I cleared post. Clearing post meant being released by a number of offices. The M.Ps signed off that no tickets or other legal matters were pending, the dentist, the motor pool, and several other offices had to initial a list in order to be released to leave. In most of those offices I was a familiar face and since I knew all the short cuts around post I was able to clear post in one day. I presented the signed list to the officer of the day. He wished me good luck and I was on my way. I threw everything I had into a foot locker and headed home for almost forty days leave before reporting to Ft Lewis, Washington.
Continue to Chapter 5