My Unforgettable Southern Experience
This was #5 on my post about 14 Unusual Things on my other personal blog. I transferred it here because it was to long to include in a short (you gotta be kidding!) list. Read about my unforgettable southern experience here.
- Numbers 1-4 are on my Charles Harmon blog. See link at bottom of page.
- I hated Southern California so I enlisted in the Army to go to Germany but went to the South (of the USA) instead of Germany which I signed up for.
It turned out that after Basic Training the Army changed their policy and required people going overseas (except Korea) to spend a minimum of 3 years in the service to be eligible to go overseas.
I had volunteered for 3 years and had spent about 3 months in Basic training so I didn’t have 3 years left to serve. I didn’t want to re-enlist for at least a year just to go to Germany. I didn’t want to spend any more time in the military than I had to.
So I opted for the hardest thing the Army had without spending extra time for auxiliary training.
I volunteered for the Paratroopers.
Bad Luck because I was stationed in the South near the Kentucky Tennessee border at Ft. Campbell Kentucky! It was a great base, but unfortunately it was in the south or southern states. Me being from the North and also California, that didn’t sit well with me.
Unfortunately my Sergeant disliked me and my best friend and busted both of us for essentially nothing, a made-up reason. But I made the best of a bad situation. I vowed to get back at him. After all, what’s a 21 year old college student to do when a 28 yr. old high school dropout punishes him for a non-event that over 100 others also had, but none of them got busted or punished?
Pure discrimination! I said college student because even though I had completed two years in Junior college, was in the Army, I was also taking a University of Wisconsin correspondence class.I definitely did get back by getting a projectionist license so I could show movies to the fighting troops. I was in Headquarters company and I was the only one in our entire battalion with a projectionist license who could show movies.
So I was absent for a lot of details my sergeant wanted to put me on.In addition I also had an Amateur Radio license so I arranged to run phone patches for soldiers overseas, another reason to miss getting put on details like KP( Kitchen Patrol), CQ (answering phones), guard duty, and other menial tasks no one wants to do. My sergeant was very proud of his new 1962 Pontiac. Most young people (especially minorities) had no cars back in those days. However I, a young Private, bought my first car as soon as I turned 21, a new 1963 Pontiac with a hot engine. He was really pissed off then. Too bad! He couldn’t catch me.
Since there was only one of my many friends in my platoon and the other platoon who had a car other than me, I left the Army Post virtually every night with some of my buddies and went to Nashville, Tennessee or Evansville, Indiana. My boss stayed upset, to put it mildly, because we almost always would sneak away before he could grab us for some menial detail to punish me.
Finally to top it off, I managed to get transferred from the Assault Platoon. There I had been a gunner and later a driver for one of the big guns we had that were dropped from airplanes.Once in Signal Platoon where I was transferred to, which was upstairs in our building, I managed to get a Secret Clearance.
With my secret clearance I was able to get my own mobile communications vehicle, a three-quarter ton truck, loaded with radios, transmitters, a teletype machine and other goodies. I had to brief the important officers about the coded messages I received and that kept me busy and away a lot of the time.
In the cold weather I had a warm (it had a heater inside) communication center in my vehicle and when we went to the field for exercises I dished out hot coffee to my friends while my former sergeant could only look disgustedly at me.
No one could come close to my vehicle either because it was off limits due to the secret communication equipment in it.
[I also used those transmitters to talk to my buddies over amateur radio frequencies in Chicago, Southern California, and around the world (don’t tell anyone) using the military equipment].
So I didn’t make rank due to my former sergeant busting me and no new allocations the rest of the time I was in the service, but I managed to have a lot of fun, teach electronics to the guys in signal Platoon, get out the Army three months early to go back to college, and got the GI Bill which easily paid for my last two years of college.
I also got VA benefits which I used to buy my first house with “no money down” and the current house I live in, but I had to put $30,000 down because my house was too expensive for the VA to approve the loan.
I also bought a townhome in Montclair CA with a new VA loan on it and sold it “no money down” to an investor who turned right around and resold it to another investor. I kept the mortgage (an assumable Trust Deed that I created) for 17 years and made about $80,000 off that one deal.
It was a $5100 “no money down” deal I bought from a young college student. I didn’t follow the “rules (location, location, location)” but still made a bundle. You can read something about that deal here.Thanks Uncle Sam for helping me out. Call me patriotic or not, I “borrowed” Uncle Sam’s portrait for one of my websites.
- Numbers 6-14 are on my Charles Harmon blog. See link at bottom of page.