I enlisted with six other men from Jenkins in January 1946 to join the Army Air Corps. We wanted to get out of our small town and see the world. None of us had ever been away from home before.
We boarded a bus in Jenkins for Roanoke, Va. “Hot dog, guys! We are on our way.”
We spent the night in a large room in a hotel with about 40 other young men.
After our physical the next morning and we were sworn into the military, I looked around for the other Jenkins boys. Four of them left early that morning for home.
We went by bus to Fort Meade, Md., For our clothing and shots. I had never had a shot before in my life. Some of the biggest guys in our group fainted during the process of immunization. Men behind counters were throwing our clothes to us, never asking our size.
When we got back to our barracks, we exchanged clothing until we had something that fit.
After a three-day smoky train ride to Shepherd Fields, Tex., our new home for the next three weeks, we were “greeted” by persons who addressed us as if we were the scum of the earth.
I had thought my vocabulary, for what at that time was considered :naughty words”, was complete, but I soon learned worse describing us that I had probably never heard before. I thought at first that these people who were screaming vulgarities were speaking to someone in particular, but I soon learned that they were referring to all of us.
That was our welcome as we got off the train.
We were then “herded” as a group to a building and told to go upstairs and pick out a bunk. By now it was around midnight and we were all starved, but we didn’t get any chow until the next morning.
I don’t remember too many names from so long ago, but I do remember Sergeant Adams from Hazard, who, fortunately for me, reported to our barracks the next morning as our new instructor. He took me under his wing, taught me many things about the military and showed me how to do those things. I then showed the other guys.
Anyway, that was the start of our basic training, and it certainly helped me grow as an individual and taught me how to work with others during my 27-year career.