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Not Recommended For the Good Conduct Medal

Story ID:9992
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Fresno CA USA
Year:1956
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Note, this is a rather long story so for those of you who don’t like long ones I will send it in two installments. I hope you take time to read and enjoy it. Chuck

Not Recommended For the Good Conduct Medal
Part One
By Chuck Dishno
9/13/14

When I turned 18 in 1952 I registered for Selective Service. Shortly after getting my card, I was ordered to report to Klamath Falls, Oregon for a pre-induction physical. I didn’t pass the physical because of my being blind in my right eye. I was told that I probably would never be called up for service and to go back to Bly.

After graduation I decided to attend Reedley College in Reedley, California. After a semester I transferred to Fresno Junior College where I met and married my first wife, Marge two years later.

Marge and I had been married about 6 months when I got my official “Greetings” letter ordering me to report to the induction center in Fresno. I was told to bring an AWOL bag with a change of clothes and incidentals because if I passed the requirements I would leave for the Army that afternoon. I wasn’t too worried since I had failed my pre-induction physical in Oregon and expected to be home that evening. WRONG! I was told that I had scored really high on the aptitude test and was considered officer material and I should apply to OCS. Since I was a draftee my active commitment was for two years but as an officer I would have to commit to 3 years. In retrospect I guess I should have gone for OCS but in my mind I told myself that I was in for only one reason and that was to get out. Beside I had a new bride waiting for me.

I now had to find a telephone to call Marge and tell her not to expect to see me for the next 10 weeks. Thirty minutes later I along with 60 other draftees was on a bus for Fort Ord, California. After processing at Fort Ord I was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington to start my basic training.

What a change in my life. At Fort Lewis we were met by two of the most hated men I had ever known… the drill instructors, Sergeant Sullivan and Sergeant Tabor. I was a 125 lb kid and frankly they scared the hell out of me with their constant yelling and putting us down.

I did survive basic though then on to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey for 4 months in photography school. I was then transferred to Fort Lee, Virginia for the duration of my two year hitch.

At Fort Lee I was assigned to the entertainment branch and life became almost bearable again.
So far I had been a model soldier and kept out of trouble. The only problem was that I was a lowly private and had to do KP duty at least every 6 weeks, a job that I hated with all my being.
It was on one of these 16 hour KP shifts that I had my first encounter with a Second Lieutenant. This was a large mess hall that fed over 1000 men and on this particular day I was running the large dishwashing machine. It was a large tunnel and the dishes were placed on large wooden trays and sent through the tunnel to be washed, rinsed and come out the other end about 5 minutes later hot and dry.

I had just loaded another tray and looked at my blocked fatigue cap. I thought what the heck, it is getting pretty sweat stained and I might as well run it through with the dishes. I took it off, laid it down on the tray and sent it thru the tunnel. I had no sooner done this when I heard a voice behind me saying, “Private, where is your fatigue cap.” It was a brand new 2nd Lieutenant trying to inspect the kitchen and throw some authority around. I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “I don’t know, sir, it must be around here somewhere.” About that time the tray with my cap chugged out the other end and I said, “Oh, here it is sir.” It was nice and clean so placed it back on my head. I then remembered that he was an officer so I threw him a snappy salute but I must have looked like I was mocking him as I left a line of soap suds across my forehead. I thought it was funny but the Lieutenant didn’t. He turned to a corporal with a clipboard and said to write me up which he did while trying to suppress a grin on his face.

Meeting the Provost Marshall

I had been in the Army about 5 months and we were living in a one room apartment in Long Branch, NJ waiting orders to be cut on my next duty assignment. Our only entertainment was to go to the USO and watch television. One November evening we had just left to walk back to my VW when a super cold blast hit us. I was in my Class A uniform so I took off my IKE Jacket and put it around Marge’s shoulders. I hadn’t gone more than a half block when two MP’s in their squad car pulled over and asked me why I was out of uniform. I tried to explain that I was only being good guy by keeping his wife warm. It seemed to make no difference to them and they promptly put us in the back of the car and drove us the 15 miles back to Fort Monmouth. They then took us into the MP station and called the Provost Marshall.

The PM came over and promptly chewed me out for being out of uniform. He then told the MP on duty to write me up. I took a while for me to convince him that I needed to get back to Long Branch and my VW. We finally made it back with another chink in my short career as a soldier.

Watch for part two for more of my transgressions.

To be continued….