With Wednesday being Veteran's Day, I thought I would recall some of the highlights of my 19 years of military service.
On Dec. 7, 1942, I went to Cincinnati and enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. On Jan. 6, 1943, I was called to active duty.
I left by train from Cincinnati to New York City. I went into training at Sheepshead Bay, in Brooklyn, N.Y. The first two months of my military career were spent at a tough, exhausting boot camp where you are pushed to the limits both physically and mentally.
You are rudely awakened at 5:30 a.m. by a loudmouthed coxswain shouting, "Hit the deck!"
After we showered and dressed, we spent an hour waxing and buffing the barrack's deck. At 7 a.m., the bugle sounded mess call and each company had two minutes to get out of the barracks and get into formation.
The Battalion Commander asked for the company report which is, "all present and accounted for, Sir!" or "One man missing, Sir!," and woe be to that man that is missing unless he has a good excuse. Then after this, it is double time to the mess hall for breakfast.
Training started at 8 a.m. and lasted until noon, when we had an hour for lunch.
At 1 p.m., training resumed and lasted until 5 p.m. The training consisted of marching, close order drill with a gun, boxing, life boat drills, obstacle course training, swimming, ship identification, gas warfare and survival training.
We also had a few hours of recreation each week.
Each week on Saturday morning was inspection time. Each barrack was cleaned from top to bottom, then we dressed in our best uniforms and marched to the parade grounds for review.
The reviews consisted of 10,000 sailors standing on a hot parade ground for two hours in the hot sun while the Company Commanders reported to the Battalion Commanders and they reported to the Regimental Commanders, who reported to the Admiral or the Base Commander.
After a lot of introductions, the Admiral gave a little pep talk. Then the bands sounded off, which consisted of the bands marching up and down in front of the troops the length of the parade field.
After that, the drum and bugle corps did the same routine of sounding off.
Meanwhile in the ranks, there are 20 or 30 sailors who passed out from standing such a long time. The best order of the day was when the Regimental Commander said "Pass in review!"
All the companies on the field marched past the big brass on the reviewing stand with the command "Eyes Right" as we passed the stands.
In summary, the Saturday reviews were very military and impressive, but it was a long hard morning.
What also made the day so hard was the inspection of the military barracks while we were parading. They were submitted to a white glove inspection in our absence. If the big brass found the bunks not made right, windows were dirty, mirrors dirty, floors not gleaming or dirt on the rafter we got a big gig.
This generally meant an hour or two of extra barracks cleaning and a restriction of liberty.
We worked our butts off to make sure this did not happen.
Boot camp was a tough strenuous two months but I came out of it in better physical condition than I had ever been in my life. I got punished several times for laughing in ranks and my punishment was washing everyone's leggings in a cold shower room.
I caught pneumonia and was in the hospital for a week on one occasion.
Boot camp was tough but they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
I am sure I am running out of space, so I had better put a cap on my column.
The military made a man out of me and I just wish that every young man and woman too, if they wish, could have a couple of months of military training after high school.
That would be wonderful.
After boot camp I pounded the beach for six months and was on a Navy ship for 16 months, but that's another story.
Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, "I'm possible" Audrey Hepburn
Until next time ... live, love, laugh and learn, Glenmore