Reporting to Fort Bragg
When I got back to the world…I had been given orders to report to Fort Campbell Kentucky.. but while I was on my short leave at home….new orders came……
Therefore, my first CONUS assignment was at Fort Bragg, 370th USASA Mobile Field Station, 18th Abn Corp.
OH Goodie!!! Now that I am a “Puking Buzzard” …I get to be a “Gagging Dragon” too!!!
I arrived on a Wednesday, I believe, and reported to the Orderly room….
Well, that is what the sign said…
But it was unusual because the building still had “Condemned” signs all over it and most of the windows were boarded up.
As did almost ALL of the buildings around it….WWII buildings…..nothing newer than say….1941 or so.
It was getting dark and those others that had either reported in that day or came in about the same time as I did were lead over to the supply room to draw bedding. And a mattress…..
It seems that this area had been given to the unit just days before and the buildings had not even been opened up for use yet…..
Or cleaned out…nor up….
Picture a bunch of guys, and as it turns out, a bunch of guys that had ALL just came back from Vietnam, carrying their bedding …or….more properly DRAGGING it from the supply room over to a billet some yards away….
The supply guy uses a crowbar to rip the board blocking the doors off of them and tosses it aside…he reaches in and turns on the lights….and again.. more properly, ONE light as none of the rest seemed to work…
“SHIT DUDE does the furnace work?” questions someone at the back of this…….parade..
“Yeah…if you stoke it with coal”
Muttering and grumbling begins to worry this supply guy….and he beats a hasty retreat to the rear of the building to unboard the furnace room…..and he goes ahead and fires up the old furnace…..
I decide that I will take a place upstairs…….I haven’t been in a two story building for almost two years….and this building reminds me of my basic training building at Ft. Leonard Wood.. same nasty color…same soot covered crappily tiled floor…one with about six different types and colors on it….
I hear coughing and cussing coming from the ground floor…..
“DAMNIT YOU SON-OF-A-^&%^%” and other stuff as the idiot supply guy stokes the furnace and forces the soot to bellow out of the vents like exhaust from a diesel semi truck!!!!
And then it comes upstairs…..
Oh shit………I and some of the others throw open a few windows and literally kick the plywood out of the window frames (a couple of guys down in the street beat a hasty retreat to the other side as the sheets of heavy plywood careen to the ground!!) …..then we just exit the building and take a break….waiting for the soot to settle down and maybe, just maybe, the building will warm up a bit.. It is a really cold evening to me. Fifty degrees is absolutely freezing to someone use to 100 degree temps….
And no field jackets…..
I can see now that some of the other buildings have people in them… these buildings look like they have been occupied for a while….no boards across the windows or doors and no trash around the buildings….
One of the other guys was from the 8th RRFS at Phu Bai and I recognized him…and him me…but we had worked on other shifts & teams so we didn’t know each other that well….
I told him who I was and he did the same….Robert something or other….sorry…to many years have passed to remember his name……it may come to me later
However, he & I wandered over to the nearest building to introduce ourselves and see who these guys were….maybe me might know someone….because it seems that most of us that drew bedding were all from VN…maybe some in here where too…
As we step into the building the guys in the latrine see us and some idiot yells..
“A TEN HUT!!!”
And we can hear other idiots snapping to attention….even UPSTAIRS FER CRIPES SAKE!!
Robert & I look at each other…..and then break out laughing…..what a hoot!!!!
A whole building loaded with NUGS!!!!!!
We were E-5’s and every swinging ID-GIT in here was full of slick-sleeves!!!!…….this place was just chock full of newly graduated trainees fresh out of school from the Fort Devens ASA school.
OOOOOOOOOOO me goin’ to have some fun soon!!!!!!! My little “inner-child” cackles
Before I can decide what to do to these guys…one young troop runs up to me and slams himself into a very ridged attention and ……
Well… he actually REPORTED TO ME!!!!
I guess because I look to be the oldest guy there….
Somewhat amused at this point… I return his salute…..
For some reason….my demeanor changes….instead of torturing this guy…and quite possibly the entire building…..I inform them that we ARE NOT officers nor their platoon sergeants… that we just got here and wanted to drop over and find out something about the unit…..
He visibly deflates…but smiles….I think he ALSO thought that we were there to torture them…
We get invited in and pull up a foot-locker and ask questions….someone offers us a beer…or Jack Daniel’s…
“Well Hell Yes!!” and I take both……
It turn out that we are the first NCO’s that these guys have seen in two weeks…the orderly room people and the supply people don’t do anything but hold formation & roll-call in the morning and evening and they were told that their officers would report in soon…..
These guys had come right out of Ft. Devans by driving the new mobile rigs down here and then they just parked them….set up the antennas and then have been doing nothing for almost two weeks!!!!
“New Rigs?” I ask….
“Yes….new ten ton tractors pulling 50 foot trailers that are expandable, several together create a mobile field station”…all the same gear we used in VN but on trailers….mobile….
Neat idea….well…in peacetime maybe…. I just had a vision of them burning down just like the officers billets back at Phu Bai on the night of TeT….or….riddled with holes……and
ROADS????? in Vietnam????……
Well…. Maybe to some places, on the coast…. Close to the main highways…. But certainly NOT in the mountains….
Besides … Aluminum is NEVER a good thing to use as a wall…….as our Officers at Phu Bai found out….
We stayed and drank and talked to this guys until it started to get close to midnight….Then we decided that we needed some sleep….and maybe the soot in the building isn’t too bad…. And just maybe its warm in there too.
Arriving back at the barracks, I step out onto the “back porch” to see what I can see….
And I am staring right at….an M60 machinegun!!!! Sticking out of a guard tower!!
Of course, it is pointing the other way and seems to be manned by an MP whose back is turned to me…
WHAT THE HELL????
Oh geez…. Our company area butts up against the Fort Bragg post prison camp!!!
And I can look right down into the prison yard…..
And off to the left I can see these trailers the guys were talking about….with a make-shift antenna field next to it….
And to the right is our unit motor pool…. with all of the ten ton tractors parked in it….and one poor soul walking guard duty….. with nothing but a night-stick and a flashlight….
The guard in the tower must have heard me… he turns around.. and nods in my direction.. I nod back and turn to go inside….it is getting cold fast..
I go and make my bed, rather badly, but it is my first night here and there is no real discipline yet….I find that I am looking forward to it… these racks are Air Force type beds…. Much wider and slightly longer than Army racks…..
Returning upstairs I see that most of the others have already hit the sack….
Somebody’s radio is playing softly in the background, somewhere in the dark…..
Seems out of place to me… for someone who sleeps but listens constantly for bad noises…..
Oh well….. they are snoring now and sleeping comfortably…..
And so do I…..
Esse Quam Vidiri
Last edited by Mithrandir; 04-21-2005 at 12:36 PM..