Having graduated high school with a 2.5 GPA my prospects for going to college was zero to none. Their was still a draft at the time. The lottery for my age group, had not yet taken place. Didn’t want to go to Nam’ but still I had to do something. So my big idea was… to apply to the U.S. Coast Guard. That was the ticket. Learn a skill. Travel to far away places. Get clothed, fed, medical care, and get paid to boot and stay far away from rice paddies.
Of course the Coast Guard being the smallest branch of the armed forces (all C.G. personal could fit inside Fenway park) they could pick and chose who they wanted to take and there were a lot of fellows like me who had the exact same idea.
But I was accepted. and in late fall I headed to Cape May N.J. . Anyone who has been in the military already knows what it was like. Especially that first day.
Of course when I was in technology was primitive compared to today. No cell phones, no internet, no laptop computers. We also did not train with women, any women.
When I was in boot camp it was 10 weeks. During the months of Nov. and Dec. and into Jan. Cape May is a resort town and in winter months it was virtually a ghost town. We were given weekend passes on our 5th and seventh weeks (If we earned them) but there was nothing to do except get a motel room and enjoy sleeping late for just one morning.
Daily inspections, your face had to be as smooth as a baby’s ass with no nicks or cuts. One unfortunate guy in my company was as hairy as a bear. He had to shave after every meal otherwise he had a full beard by evening. The D.I. had to be able to bounce a quarter of the blankets of your bunk. We cleaned the floor on our hands and knees and buffed the floor by pulling a guy around the barracks on an army blanket.
There were three distinct categories, green belts for those who were keeping with the program, blue belts who needed additional physical training, and red belts, guys who were discipline problems and needed more individual attention.
But we would have time for stupid shit, like igniting someone’s farts with a Bic lighter. This could be dangerous if the flame ignited the methane inside the colon. Giving new meaning to the term “flaming asshole”.
But I was able to graduate on time. I didn’t have to repeat anything. I went home for a few days to prepare for my next chapter. Electronic technician school on Governors Island N.Y.C. , in the shadow of the twin towers.
One side note, this was a time when a lot guys had very long hair. Everyone knew what was coming, the convict cut. Some of them would arrive whith hair down to their shoulders or beyond. This seemed to thrill the barbers no end as a saw some of their trophies tied in a knot hanging on their mirrors. All that was missing was the shrunken heads.
It gets better.