Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Backstage at Reggae on the River, 2017...

Backstage at Reggae on the River, 2017...
The author of Mark's Work

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Crossing the Eel River at French's Camp

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Butter in the fly...

July Jewels

July Jewels
Bees to the Kingdom

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017
Something I have always wanted...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Friday, November 11, 2011

Military Madness: Ft. Dix # 5: No-Man's Land

No-Man's Land

 They rousted me the following morning around eight, and I realized that though I had been cold and hungry, I had still managed to sleep for four and a half hours.  I had come into Ft. Dix, New Jersey, in March of 1972, around three AM that morning, and I now tumbled out of bed and got dressed.

 Along with the others, I then grabbed my gear and headed back downstairs, turned in my “bedding,” and went over to another similarly run-down building, where our records had ben sent, so as to find out where it was that I belonged.  I could just hear Robert in the background, asking if I knew where I was at.  “Not yet, Pa, but I am sure they are going to tell me.  They have been telling me exactly where to go for seventy days now, so I am sure they will continue.”
We ended up joining the rest of our company/platoon in a three-story red brick barracks, exactly the same as the ones in Ft. Leonard Wood.  Once again, our company occupied the third floor, except that I lucked out, coming in after all of the others, because I was assigned one of the only remaining rooms in the barracks, which was a three-man room, on the bottom floor.  So I found myself bunking with a guy from Oregon, named Roy Turvey, and a guy named Tom Oester, two guys who were to be my closest friends, while in New Jersey.
There were four theaters on post, which was a good sign.  Gone with the Wind was showing at one of them the first week I was there, though I did not have time to take it in.  The first week was pretty hectic, and going to a flick was out of the question, but as time went on, the grip was loosened.
A short while later I saw a film called Cisco Pike, which was nothing to write home about, except for the fact that it was filmed in LA, down in Santa Monica, and I was going nuts.  There was no one from California in my platoon, because the majority of them did basic training right here at Ft. Dix.  Most of them went home on the weekends, once we were though the logistical portion of the early going.
The way it worked at Fort Dix was that we all had to do work details the whole first week we were on post, but after that, we only had to keep the barracks clean.  That first week we did the same kind of chores that we did at FLW.  On Monday we had orientation all morning, and we cleaned the barracks all afternoon.  Our drill instructors here in New Jersey required that we remove our boots when we first came in, which was nice because then the floors stayed cleaner, but it was also a pain, because it might have been ten degrees outside, and everyone was trying to get out of the cold in a hurry, and something had to give.
On Tuesday we spent all day at Battalion Headquarters, clearing brush, raking leaves and mowing lawns.  Wednesday we spent all day at supply headquarters, rearranging the entire storage bunkers; Thursday I had KP for seventeen hours.  Friday morning we repaired screens on the orderly room and in the afternoon, we painted.  They got their money’s worth from us, that’s for sure.  At least after that first week, I was done with those work details.  I wrote home that I had a six-hour fireguard duty, the first Saturday night I was on post, which was the first time I had ever been assigned fire duty for more than two hours.  The fireguard was required to stay awake, stay on his feet and to patrol the hall so as to be able to sound the alarm, if needed.  I had to remain awake for six hours, and I wasn’t even supposed to write letters.  I ignored that rule, figuring the worst they would do was take me out and have me shot, and I would have preferred that anyway.
The string of luck, which had landed me a desirable MOS, continued to tie me to good fortune.  Having a room on the bottom floor, while the rest of the platoon was on the third floor, was beyond my wildest dreams.  Those insidious G.I. parties, where we had to scrub the floors each night, whether they needed it or not, were no more.  We were in no-man’s land, because we did not belong to the platoon on the bottom floor, so we did not participate in their G.I. parties, but we were not up there on the third floor, when the drill sergeants gathered the rest together, and gave the order to clean.
The brass did not realize that Roy, Tom and I were not there, and the guys who knew, would never have ratted us out.  What did we do?  We certainly weren’t going to sit around and wait for someone to notice that we did not have “dishpan hands,” so we never returned to our room after chow.  In a letter home to my mom, I mentioned that I had been going to the gym every night, playing paddleball, lifting weights, while alternating between intervals in the sauna, and dives into the Olympic-sized swimming pool.  

 We tried to ignore the fact that we were supposed to be back in the barracks, tooth brush and scouring powder at the ready, and concentrate instead on the rigorous physical training program in which we were participating.  Contrary to what human nature might suggest, our brothers on the third floor were thrilled to see it happening; they thought it was cool that some of us were getting over on the machine.  

 It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.  We couldn't have all of that gym equipment sitting there unused.  Besides, I was tired of brushing my teeth with scouring powder; the enamel was beginning to wear thin.


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