Have any of you been in the Army, Navy, Air Forces?

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
A story from the other side of the Iron Curtain

I registered my M.Sc. thesis at the Warsaw Technical University on the same day I was told to report at the Military Academy (now defunct) in Kraków. I was a conscript soldier with the rank of private-cadet. Luckily, InterCity trains already operated in 1987 so I reported at my unit in the evening. It was not a nice welcome; I was expected to report in the morning (although the hour was not specified in the document). Those were four hard months of service; the first month was the basic training and we had seen no woman for that month. Visits of wives, girlfriends and families were allowed afterwards, especially on the Oath Day.

That day was quite funny. We were taught to march at even pace. While marching in the front of the crowd of families, I had to look forward but I was trying to spot my wife with the corner of my eye at the same time ;) The oath itself was loathed by all of us; nobody was happy to live in a Commie country back in 1987, especially after the Solidarity revolution of 1980 and after the martial law of 1981-1983. We were expected to say, among others "I swear allegiance to the Soviet Union...." -- there was only mumbling at the moment -- followed by "and if I fail, let the austere hand of People's justice reach me" -- men could not say it because everybody was at the verge of laughter at that very moment :D Though, the happiness was great as finally we could get on the leave and spend the night with our women.

Later, we were sent to Masuria (which is the Polish lakeland in the former East Prussia) for the field training. While at the camp, I learned my daughter was born. I had the right for an instant a week's leave; I was taught the patience; instead of wasting time for travelling home from Masuria and back, I was advised to wait until the training was complete, return to Kraków with the rest of the unit, take the InterCity and join my wife and baby in Warsaw. The patience was rewarded with far longer leave than a week. I must say the most of the cadre, the commissioned officers were human; as long as you at least tried and made no trouble (and you could nicely smile), they were about to understand and help.

At the end of the four months of the Military Academy, we were to be sent to different Army units for 8 months of regular service as the members of the cadre. Most of the men were sent to remote garrisons far away from the civilisation. The "protection" was the keyword. Had you a "protection" (someone in your family at high enough position in the armed forces), you would be sent to some large city, I was lucky. A "protected" mate voluntarily gave his "protection" away for me, the father of a baby. So I spent the next eight months serving in my hometown and being able to stay with the family very often. I ended my military service as a sergeant-cadet, specialist chemical trooper.

Now, how did we feel about a potential war with the NATO? In 1987 nobody wanted to fight. We were aware how obsolete our armed forces were. Everybody had seen the "Blue Thunder" movie featuring a high-tech American helicopter. One day, I was ordered to do a training called "Organised defence against a helicopter assault by a squad using their AK-47 rifles". It all ended in laughter!

-- Citizen Cadet! -- said one of the men -- When we see the Blue Thunder, we'll rather surrender than shoot! 🤣

Any military stories to share, friends?
 

steve marino

Active Member
I was in the Army for like 20 minutes. This was during the Vietnam draft period, and we were having our physicals. During the swearing in stuff they asked me if I or any of my relatives had ever been involved in a resurrection against the United States. I looked at the sarge like he was an idiot (because he was), and said son. where do you think this is? This is the South, and my relatives fought against the US and for the Confederacy in the War of Northern Aggression. He said, oh, not that, like it was nothing. At that point I realized I was in a nut house.

Someone in there asked me, Steve, do you want to get out of this? I told them that I surely did. He pointed to the canteen and said I should go there day and night and drink cokes and eat candy bars and run my sugar count up. So I did.

Some time later after the labs had been done, I was back one on one w/ sarge, and he said you passed the physical except there is a lot of protein in your urine. I said, oh? Gee. that's too bad, be seeing you, but he said no, we want to keep you here for 3 days of observation and redo all the tests. I pleaded with him that I had a wife and 2 kids at home (true), and needed to get back to my job ASAP. Couldn't I get the tests done in my city at the AF base? He didn't like it, but he couldn't keep me I guess, so I was let out and back to freedom. I went home and they kept calling on the phone saying that I HAD to get those tests done. I said, no, I ain't goin. and kept hanging the phone up. This went on for a long time and then they went to a lottery system and I had number 345 and was never officially drafted even though I had already gone thru all that swearing in business.

I wonder if I'm eligible for a pension?

This is how crazy the Army was: a good friend named DD (not his real initials) also didn't think highly of going to get killed for not much good reason, but DD was a little crazy (as in the sun is a little hot), so he got good and lickered up, threw in some pills for good measure, and blew off a couple of toes on one foot w/ a shotgun. When he showed up for his physical in a cast and crutches, they asked him what had happened, so he told them. They looked at him, smiled, and said, son, you're our man. Then they kept him until he got sorta healed up and put him in the paratroopers, where he had to land on his feet all the time, hopefully anyway. He came back w/ a medal.

Many of my friends were taken right out of high school after graduating, and they never came back. Monumentally stupid war, but are there any smart ones?
 
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indianajo

Well-Known Member
My grandfather was declared "white" , drafted to kill Germans in WWI (which he did). Before that NativeAm were black, unloaded ships if drafted.
My father enlisted to fight Hitler in fall, 1940. Congress didn't see a problem until December 7, 1941. Mother had 4 proposals at the mine in WWII, but waited to marry a veteran. Dad was a airport tower radioman, never fired a shot. But landed a lot of fighters on the way to Brazil, then later planes of convolescents near Kellogg clinic, MI where he was supervisor.
I thought Viet Nam was badly managed, if I was going to go I wanted the map. So I signed up for ROTC 1968 right before my draft number was pulled, 34 out of 365.
Graduated 1974 after repeating some courses. in the depth of the recession, the Army told me "they would call me later". Loaded trucks with furniture 2 years. Then electronic tech, then EE at Philco-Ford installing equipment at JSC. Great job, low pay. In the middle of the Iranian Hostage crisis, the Army called and said "it's later".
Trained 6 months at APG Md, then active duty 2 1/2 years Ft. Riley with 1st ImfantryDivision. I was a maintenance officer since I had taken correspondence courses on trucks & engines during my 5 years off. Kept me from being a weapons officer, that inventories the ammo & Lancer nuke missiles. (caused my boss's hair to fall out in patches).
Was assigned to prepare reports of what parts the maintenance battalion was waiting for to fix important broken equipment, so once a month the asst. Div commander would call up the depots & complain about bad service. One day, I commented that this brake hose that it was going to take 18 months to get, was sitting in the front window of the International Harvester dealer in Herington. Boss lit up, taught me how to organize local purchase. Moved that grader out of shop, air compressor with same injectors as an Oliver tractor, diesel crane that had the gasket kit in Wichita in stock at the Cummins dealer although Tank-Automotive command civil service people couldn't find it. Had a 20 month estimate for a boom rotate gear on a 5 ton crane, took a good one cleaned by the shop, xeroxed it, sent copy to gear shop in Houston, where oil rig parts get made by tomorrow. 2 weeks & $450 later, the crane was back out pulling packs out of artillery platforms.
Had a Anthony rough terrain forklift that had consumed 2 transmissions, 3 intercoolers, 2 hydraulic pumps, 2 valve bodies, numerous hoses, kept overflowing hydraulic tank. Called for inspection by an expert from engineer equipment depot in Ft. Leonard Wood. He scrapped it. We got a new model forklift that wasn't such a maintenance disaster.
Watched a tank retriever with tank aboard slide down a cloverleaf ramp at 5 mph with 32 wheels locked. Kept the driver out of trouble, they quit trying to use that ramp to retrieve tanks. Was sent to find a lost tank in Germany in Reforger 82, 1st tank retriever had run over a fence, 2nd retriever had run over a Fiat, 3rd retriever got to Rathaus square in downtown Kassel, no tank. I got there in COL's jeep at 3AM. No Vopos, no phone booth, so went to the city sewer plant to use the phone, that had to be on the stream on the edge of town. There has to be an operator at a sewer plant. Guess where the city impound lot for abandoned vehicles is? On the flood plains right next to the sewer plant. Kassel city had towed it there.
Summer 1982 division headquarters blew up 2 100 kw generators in a week, they took our last one. I hitchhiked over there, met a Major, took a look. they had 14 office trucks in a big circle, each supposed to have a 10 k gas generator. They had hooked them up in a big circle to the 100k. Each truck was connected to a ground pole 10' into the ground with a 4 ga cable - all per regulations. i pointed out in August on top of a hill in Kansas, water table was likely much lower than 10'. Suggested they connect truck bodies with 10 ga wire each to each, leaving out one link so to not make ground loop. Suggested that would blow the fuse of whatever the wiring error was. They blew up no more generators that summer. Didn't hear another word about it.
Got a Army commendation medal right before I left. Pretty unusual for a service support guy. The assistant Div commander also got us a new engine from GM for the Mobile Assault bridges that sometimes went through 2 "rebuilt" by DIO engines in a month. He knew my name. Mr. Fixit. I had the maintenance records in that pile of useless junk on my desk.
BTW the division procured 8 diesel GMC blazers for us maintenance officers, 4 in Kansas, 4 in Germany, so we could drive around and look for parts without an enlisted man driver. Got there after I left. I had driven around in civies in my Chevette with my own gas. Couldn't wear a fatigue uniform in town in those days.
Was being trained to move to Korea when my 3 years were up. ETS'd. Was 33 years old, didn't think my knees would hold out until I earned my pension at 20 years. 18 years service, you get a nice DD43 form. Gets you "free" medical care at the VA hospital. Whoopie.
Was a fun 30 months shaking things up.
 
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Mulezen

Well-Known Member
Navy...now disabled vet who appreciates being in a health care system rather than a scatter shot of profit centers. Example...ten days ago after consulting with my doc via computer was sent to McGuire Hospital For imaging and fluids. I needed a pass to get in which quieted my fears. While lying in ER for six hours I meditated on the the bike I had ordered which was at CaryTown Bikes awaiting mod items.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Air Force, Army & Marines, an interesting story. I enrolled in Air Force ROTC in college. I was scheduled to enter the the Air Force Academy after graduation but was immediately drafted into the Army. I never did find out exactly what happened but the Army took precedence. I took the physical and was ushered into a large room with about a hundred other Army inductees. Just before the oath was sworn, a Marine sergeant entered the room. He picked the six tallest, including me, and took us into another room where we were sworn into the Marines.

On the way to Paris Island, my left arm swelled up to the size of a football. It was due to the multi needle allergy test given during the physical. I went to the infirmary where more tests were done. Within a week, I was given a medical discharge for a wool allergy. I knew I was allergic to wool but the question was never asked. I had no idea such an allergy would prevent me from serving. In the 1960's, all military uniforms were made of wool or wool blend. There were no provisions for those who were allergic. I contacted the Air Force hoping to go back to my original plan but I did not qualify there either due to the allergy.

The Marine Corp didn't provide any documentation explaining the medical discharge and simply said to see my own doctor. Back home, I had a tough time explaining the situation to my folks, my friends and my employer. I think it hit my brother the hardest though since I had given him my beloved 1957 Chevy convertible before I left.:)

Now at 73, I still feel embarrassed and a bit guilty about not being able to serve. Although it was never said, I think there were those who considered me a draft dodger.

In any case, I wish to thank all the vets who posted here, and those everywhere for that mater, for their sacrifice, commitment and service.
 
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Mulezen

Well-Known Member
After 4 years at a Navy Prep school I knew I didn’t want to climb that hill again at Annapolis. Then the draft came calling and I knew the Marines were on the horizon so I quickly joined the Navy. Back then we didn’t have a choice kinda like the doctors today who I now thank for their service.
 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
I worked for the Forest Service and would go (reluctantly) to fires, either on a crew or as "overhead". Flew to a fire in SW Oregon in the 1980s and worked in the planning unit as a gofer. We had nothing. It was a big camp of people but no showers, not enough supplies, and we were a low priority to get anything.

Then the Oregon National Guard arrived. A whole bunch of them. They brought MASH style tents and set up showers. They brought in city transit style buses and started running them on a schedule so folks could ride into the little town and do laundry or whatever. We rode the bus to a high school football game, as did a lot of other people and cheered on the home team. They said it was the biggest crowd ever.

Anyway, they made things so much more pleasant. I am grateful to them for their help. It was a hell of a fire season that year.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I worked for the Forest Service and would go (reluctantly) to fires, either on a crew or as "overhead". Flew to a fire in SW Oregon in the 1980s and worked in the planning unit as a gofer. We had nothing. It was a big camp of people but no showers, not enough supplies, and we were a low priority to get anything.

Then the Oregon National Guard arrived. A whole bunch of them. They brought MASH style tents and set up showers. They brought in city transit style buses and started running them on a schedule so folks could ride into the little town and do laundry or whatever. We rode the bus to a high school football game, as did a lot of other people and cheered on the home team. They said it was the biggest crowd ever.

Anyway, they made things so much more pleasant. I am grateful to them for their help. It was a hell of a fire season that year.
Sawtooth Helitac chase truck driver. Driving a Jet-A truck-mounted tank to fires.
The Mortar Creek Fire?
 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
Sawtooth Helitac chase truck driver. Driving a Jet-A truck-mounted tank to fires.
The Mortar Creek Fire?
I've been a timber beast for most of my career. It was some complex in a gravel pit near Riddle, OR. Riddle played 8 boy football and enjoyed us coming to their game.

I only went to fires as a last resort. We could make good money just by staying home in those days. We made overtime in the spring on wild and crazy broadcast burns and then during the summer "patrolling".

After thinking on this, I think I was a radio person and I worked at night in the back of a U-haul. It seemed like there were lots of trips up and down I-5 that year, although I got flown to Roseburg for this one, then vanned to the Riddle area.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I've been a timber beast for most of my career. It was some complex in a gravel pit near Riddle, OR. Riddle played 8 boy football and enjoyed us coming to their game. I only went to fires as a last resort. We could make good money just by staying home in those days.

After thinking on this, I think I was a radio person and I worked at night in the back of a U-haul. It seemed like there were lots of trips up and down I-5 that year, although I got flown to Roseburg for this one, then vanned to the Riddle area.
Always a pleasure to meet someone that knows White's Boots ain't white. Palm trees were my thing.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
That was the other thing. We wet siders wore calks (pronounced corks) for our usual work and when we went to fires we had to wear lug sole boots and got blisters. Whine whine whine.
We had a bar/dancehall react to our shenanigans and tell us we were no longer welcome 5 of us went dancing there with our calks. Was not a pretty hardwood floor when we left. We paid for the damage to stay out of prosecution. Almost fifty years and twice the pounds ago...