50 Years Ago Today I Said Goodbye

by BigFrank Banned
41 replies
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On July 6, 1965 at the ripe, old age of 16, I volunteered for Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Army. I wanted to do it on the 4th of July, but it was a Sunday and Monday was the national holiday, so the recruitment center was closed.

After filling out the paperwork, I was informed it would remain on file until my upcoming 17th birthday on October 12th. I had to return on that day to get my papers stamped and to receive an official day to report for induction.

I was there when the doors opened on October 13th, (Columbus day was the 12th. Closed, again!) got my papers stamped and was given a report date of January 4, 1966 - 8 AM - sharp!

On this day, 50 years ago, at 2 PM, I was on a train, along with a bunch of others, most of whom were drafted, heading for Ft. Jackson, in Columbia, SC

The two things I remember the most about that train ride were, first - being ridiculed for volunteering for military service and second - the crazy conspiracy theorists spreading the rumor that the Army was so desperate for fresh grunts, that we were being taken to a secret airbase where we were to be loaded onto C130 transports and taken directly to Vietnam without so much as a day’s training.

What a long, strange trip the past 50 years have been. I wouldn't change a single day, not even the worst one of them, if it would have changed where I am at this precise moment in time. The universe has seen fit to bless me and I am very thankful.

Fifty-years. That's amazing since none of my childhood friends ever thought I would make it to 30. My Saturdays are very busy from spending most of the day traveling around, pissing on their graves. Just kidding. I miss them all, terribly.

With all of my health issues, it stills seems as if it's going to take an elephant gun to bring me down - and I'm not certain that one shot will do the job. I'd suggest you load up on ammo!

Cheers. - Frank
  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    In the summer of 65 I had just matriculated from 6th grade into the realms of my Jr High era. My friends and I were worried about fitting in with the big kid crowd, being allowed to wear makeup and nylons - and what it would be like to have a different teacher for every class, and we were putting away our dolls and starting to think about boys.

    We knew nothing of wars really. Some friends had brothers going, but we didn't really understand - weren't political creatures yet.

    It wasn't until 7h grade, when our school had a walk out over the dress code that my friends and I got our first real idea of politics.
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    Sal
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    • Profile picture of the author discrat
      In January '66 I was in infinite darkness. Complete and utter darkness. I was absolutely NOTHING !

      I then heard a voice ( and it wasn't Claude's lol) that said "you are to be blessed with a whole new dimension where there are things called colors present and heavenly little creatures flying around lowly white billowy things coming from out of nowhere.

      I scoffed at this notion. "Humbug" I thought. This is Fairy tale stuff with no real chance of occurrence.

      I then mumbled to myself "we could NEVER be transported to such a silly santa clause like place ".

      Oh wait a second that turned out to be reality

      (Wait.. wait.....wait on it to all you deep thinkers out there, you'll get it )

      Anyway, Frank thank you for your Service, truly
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      • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
        Banned
        Originally Posted by discrat View Post

        In January '66 I was in infinite darkness. Complete and utter darkness. I was absolutely NOTHING !

        I then heard a voice that said "you are to be blessed with a whole new dimension where there are things called colors present and heavenly little creatures flying around lowly white billowy things coming from out of nowhere.

        I scoffed at this notion. "Humbug" I thought. This is Fairy tale stuff with no real chance of occurrence.

        I then mumbled to myself "we could NEVER be transported to such a silly santa clause like place ". Oh wait a second that turned out to be reality

        (Wait.. wait.....wait on it to all you deep thinkers out there, you'll get it )
        Watch out for the brown acid!
        Anyway, Frank thank you for your Service, truly
        Thanks. The pleasure was and continues to be, all mine. :-) This wasn't really about that, though. More about how I left that 17 year old kid behind that day, never to be heard from nor seen, again and the incredible fact that I'm still rockin' & rollin' as if I haven't missed a step after half a century.

        There' no figuring out life. It's just plain, weird!

        Cheers. - Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    Frank, glad you are still rocking and rolling. Thanks for your service. Question: What Hollywood movie do you think is the most realistic about the Viet Nam war, if any?
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    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
      Banned
      Originally Posted by joe golfer View Post

      Frank, glad you are still rocking and rolling. Thanks for your service. Question: What Hollywood movie do you think is the most realistic about the Viet Nam war, if any.
      Thank you, Joe.

      The only Vietnam movies I have seen is 'Apocalypse Now' just recently and 'Good Morning, Vietnam.' Neither reflected anything remotely resembling my own military experiences.

      Cheers. - Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    Quite a story Frank. Hard to envision a 17 year old boy off to war.
    Did I tell you that I have an elephant gun? lol.
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    • Profile picture of the author lanfear63
      Did you do any gorilla warfare against the Viet-Kong?
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    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
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      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      Quite a story Frank. Hard to envision a 17 year old boy off to war.
      Actually, I was 19 before actually arriving in Vietnam for the Tet Offensive. Did a year in the states and a year in Germany, first.
      Did I tell you that I have an elephant gun? lol.
      Right, but how much ammo do you have. :-)

      Cheers. - Frank
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      • Profile picture of the author tagiscom
        Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post


        What a long, strange trip the past 50 years have been. I wouldn't change a single day, not even the worst one of them, if it would have changed where I am at this precise moment in time. The universe has seen fit to bless me and I am very thankful.

        Cheers. - Frank
        The universe, you must be getting soft?

        Next you will be telling us that you believe in ghosts, and the dog and cat thing?


        1965, l was a twinkle in my fathers eye!

        And was upstairs with the paperwork filled out waiting in line!

        Up to this point l have thought, l must have been insane to sigh up for this again, but l am starting to get it now!

        You have to see the sandpit for what it really is, not what it looks like!

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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    Suzanne - I am relieved to hear that a single woman has protection against a wild elephant stampede.

    Frank - what part of Germany? I spent 1973 and part of 74 as an army wife in Germany - Panzar Kasern in Boblingen. (about 25 klicks outside of Stuttgart. It was the most amazing year and a half of my life.

    My then husband's sgt let him come home for 48 hours from field maneuvers when I got there. He threw a 3/4 inch thick book at me and told me I had to be able to drive a stick (it was a black VW with white hoods on it, looked like a little skunk) and get my driver's license the next day. Then he had to go back so I was dumped off with no clue of where I was, but a driver's license and car. (Just out of high school). I went to USCOM every day for a week trying to get my ID for base. The guys were messing with me hard and sent me all over base every day for a week and I still had no ID and money was running short. I was walking down the hall, lost and confused and saw the sign on the door "Inspecting General". So I went in. I asked the secretary to see the general. He was highly curious but told the General I was there.

    The General came out of his office, also curious, and asked me what the problem was. I opened my mouth to tell him but started sobbing instead. He rushed over and put his arms around me and tried to get me to stop crying - and was telling me it would be okay. Finally I got a grip (I was only 18) and told him the problem. So - he escorted me to the first office I started at every morning and held the door open for me. The guys all started grinning and chuckling when they saw me - then the General stepped around the door and it ceased to be funny to them.

    5 minutes later, I had my ID to get onto base, and the General was on the phone telling my husband's commander to get his ass back here pronto and what the hell did he think he was doing abandoning a young girl out here like that - etc and so forth.

    When my husband got home his eyes were wide as saucers and the first words out of his mouth were "WTF did you do?"

    LMAO - I was raised in a prominent family in my town and had no idea of protocol or chain of command. After that, though, I took the General a cake as a thank you and had a friend that made life much easier for me while I was overseas.

    Ha - you've brought back some interesting memories today, Frank. Yes - life is weird. But wouldn't we get bored if it weren't?
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    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
      Banned
      Originally Posted by HeySal View Post

      Suzanne - I am relieved to hear that a single woman has protection against a wild elephant stampede.

      Frank - what part of Germany? I spent 1973 and part of 74 as an army wife in Germany - Panzar Kasern in Boblingen. (about 25 klicks outside of Stuttgart. It was the most amazing year and a half of my life.
      A lovely place called Kitzingen, just outside of Wurzburg, in the Franconia region. The year I spent in Germany was one of the best years of my life.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzingen

      My then husband's sgt let him come home for 48 hours from field maneuvers when I got there. He threw a 3/4 inch thick book at me and told me I had to be able to drive a stick (it was a black VW with white hoods on it, looked like a little skunk) and get my driver's license the next day. Then he had to go back so I was dumped off with no clue of where I was, but a driver's license and car. (Just out of high school). I went to USCOM every day for a week trying to get my ID for base. The guys were messing with me hard and sent me all over base every day for a week and I still had no ID and money was running short. I was walking down the hall, lost and confused and saw the sign on the door "Inspecting General". So I went in. I asked the secretary to see the general. He was highly curious but told the General I was there.

      The General came out of his office, also curious, and asked me what the problem was. I opened my mouth to tell him but started sobbing instead. He rushed over and put his arms around me and tried to get me to stop crying - and was telling me it would be okay. Finally I got a grip (I was only 18) and told him the problem. So - he escorted me to the first office I started at every morning and held the door open for me. The guys all started grinning and chuckling when they saw me - then the General stepped around the door and it ceased to be funny to them.

      5 minutes later, I had my ID to get onto base, and the General was on the phone telling my husband's commander to get his ass back here pronto and what the hell did he think he was doing abandoning a young girl out here like that - etc and so forth.

      When my husband got home his eyes were wide as saucers and the first words out of his mouth were "WTF did you do?"

      LMAO - I was raised in a prominent family in my town and had no idea of protocol or chain of command. After that, though, I took the General a cake as a thank you and had a friend that made life much easier for me while I was overseas.
      Great story, but I have a question. Why would you ever let that one get away? Sounds like a keeper to me. :-)
      Ha - you've brought back some interesting memories today, Frank. Yes - life is weird. But wouldn't we get bored if it weren't?
      I get bored very easily, so I say, "Bring on the weird."

      Cheers - Frank
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      • Profile picture of the author HeySal
        Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

        A lovely place called Kitzingen, just outside of Wurzburg, in the Franconia region.
        I've been through there - nice area.

        The year I spent in Germany was one of the best years of my life.

        Seems we actually have something in common. Who'd have thunk it?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzingen

        Great story, but I have a question. Why would you ever let that one get away? Sounds like a keeper to me. :-)

        From this story? LMAO - He's the reason I took martial arts. He decided after he got home that it was okay to hit a woman as long as he "owned" her. Not a keeper. He made a mistake thinking I'd be stupid enough to put up with that, too. Now I not only don't take it - but will make the attacker wish he was dead if he gets stupid enough to try it.


        I get bored very easily, so I say, "Bring on the weird."

        Cheers - Frank
        typing so my answers (embedded in q2ote won't be "too Short".
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        • Profile picture of the author MissTerraK
          50 years ago, I was wondering why my little baby brother's poops in his diaper looked like mustard.

          Well, I was.

          That's certainly not as noble as what you did 50 years ago, Frank, but it is what it is.

          Thank you for your service!


          Terra
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          • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
            Banned
            Originally Posted by MissTerraK View Post

            50 years ago, I was wondering why my little baby brother's poops in his diaper looked like mustard.

            Well, I was.
            Note to your parents. 'Gulden's' was NOT baby formula.
            That's certainly not as noble as what you did 50 years ago, Frank, but it is what it is.
            Nobility was the farthest thing from my mind. I was simply looking for adventure and a way to possible lend some meaning to my existence.
            Thank you for your service!
            You're quite welcome.

            Cheers. - Frank
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            • Profile picture of the author MissTerraK
              Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

              Note to your parents. 'Gulden's' was NOT baby formula.
              Nobility was the farthest thing from my mind. I was simply looking for adventure and a way to possible lend some meaning to my existence.
              You're quite welcome.

              Cheers. - Frank
              Well, both of my parents have passed beyond the confines of this earth and I'm pretty sure my mom breast fed my baby brother. That said, you're slipping, my dear friend. Poupon's would have been a better brand name to use, don't you think?

              And, regardless of your intentions, that was still a noble thing to do.

              I don't think I've done anything noble in my life, intended or not.


              Terra
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              • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
                Banned
                Originally Posted by MissTerraK View Post

                Well, both of my parents have passed beyond the confines of this earth and I'm pretty sure my mom breast fed my baby brother. That said, you're slipping, my dear friend. Poupon's would have been a better brand name to use, don't you think?
                Only if you're an elitist.
                And, regardless of your intentions, that was still a noble thing to do.
                I've never looked at it that way. I considered it my duty. I guess nobility is in the eye of the beholder.
                I don't think I've done anything noble in my life, intended or not.
                You care for a dog. Not many things in life more noble than that. Don't sell yourself short.

                Cheers. - Frank
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      • Profile picture of the author Karen Blundell
        we are all growing older - I was still a young girl back then and things have certainly changed a lot. I too am still rocking and rolling as well as blessed with reasonably good health ( "touch wood").

        50 years went by far too quickly, though.
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        • Profile picture of the author tagiscom
          Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

          That's nothing more than a polite way of saying that I'm a non-believer in a higher power.

          Cheers. - Frank
          I thought that it was a polite way of saying that you were starting to believe in a higher power?

          But, l suppose that it is all sandcastles in the sky, stuff!

          Well, as long as the sand is real?

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          • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
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            Originally Posted by tagiscom View Post

            Well, as long as the sand is real?
            I'm also not a very big believer in sand. :-)

            Cheers. - Frank
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        • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
          Banned
          Originally Posted by Karen Blundell View Post

          .50 years went by far too quickly, though.
          I have vowed to slow down and pay much more attention to the next 50 years.

          Cheers. - Frank
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    • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
      Originally Posted by HeySal View Post

      So - he escorted me to the first office I started at every morning and held the door open for me. The guys all started grinning and chuckling when they saw me - then the General stepped around the door and it ceased to be funny to them.
      My mom got me into 1940s movies and that scene is like one right out of those kind of movies.
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      • Profile picture of the author HeySal
        Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

        My mom got me into 1940s movies and that scene is like one right out of those kind of movies.
        LOL - yeah, come to think of it, it kinda was.

        The General was extremely pissed and he was out to surprise them in the act.

        I was a very soft young girl at the time - young, and away from mom and dad for the first time. I was alone in a place I could barely talk to people or find my way around and, being a tad proud and putting up a good front - but I was scared shitless.

        When I opened my mouth to talk and broke down sobbing, you should have seen him....put Jimmy Stewart in the role. He had his arms around me and I was crying into the crook of his arm and he was just frantically patting me on the back and telling me I was okay now. I've never had a man other than my father get so completely furious on my behalf. I'd have hated to be those men after I left with my ID in hand. I bet he completely tortured them for weeks.
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    • Profile picture of the author discrat
      Originally Posted by HeySal View Post

      Suzanne - I am relieved to hear that a single woman has protection against a wild elephant stampede.

      Frank - what part of Germany? I spent 1973 and part of 74 as an army wife in Germany - Panzar Kasern in Boblingen. (about 25 klicks outside of Stuttgart. It was the most amazing year and a half of my life.

      ck some interesting memories today, Frank. Yes - life is weird. But wouldn't we get bored if it weren't?
      Sal,
      Not trying to patronize you or kiss you arse, but hard to believe you were married in 73'
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      • Profile picture of the author HeySal
        Originally Posted by discrat View Post

        Sal,
        Not trying to patronize you or kiss you arse, but hard to believe you were married in 73'
        I graduated in June of 72 at 17.........was married two weeks after my 18th birthday on Dec 2nd........then in Feb of 73, I was on a plane headed for Germany. I looked more high school kid than adult, and, although a little more traveled than many my age, was still a kid by adult standards.

        I was carded walking into bars until I was 44 years old. I don't look as young face to face as in pics - or with my shorter hair, which is a mistake that is growing out before I have an updated pic taken. At 61, though, I am holding my own against other women my age. I still wear a few outfits from high school (most of them the material got so damned old they just fell apart), and they fit fine. Still have my 23" waistline, but it's a lot more maintenance than it was 15 years ago.

        My family has major amounts of longevity in both sides - two making it to 110 yrs before dropping dead from no apparent cause. Respect health and especially physical fitness. You either move it or lose it - both physically and mentally. That's the life long lesson from my father who is almost 92 yrs now, mentally fit, and still golfs and rides his bike, etc. In the rock and gem hunting circles we have many who are over 90 and still enjoy the meets and hunts.

        Notice this -- the people who are old (or older) in this forum that seem to have the most vivid and varied memories, and be in the best physical shape for their ages.. It's because they never stop going, doing, seeing, learning. Take a lesson, kid. LOL.
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        Sal
        When the Roads and Paths end, learn to guide yourself through the wilderness
        Beyond the Path

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        • Profile picture of the author MissTerraK
          Originally Posted by HeySal View Post

          I graduated in June of 72 at 17.........was married two weeks after my 18th birthday on Dec 2nd........then in Feb of 73, I was on a plane headed for Germany. I looked more high school kid than adult, and, although a little more traveled than many my age, was still a kid by adult standards.

          I was carded walking into bars until I was 44 years old. I don't look as young face to face as in pics - or with my shorter hair, which is a mistake that is growing out before I have an updated pic taken. At 61, though, I am holding my own against other women my age. I still wear a few outfits from high school (most of them the material got so damned old they just fell apart), and they fit fine. Still have my 23" waistline, but it's a lot more maintenance than it was 15 years ago.

          My family has major amounts of longevity in both sides - two making it to 110 yrs before dropping dead from no apparent cause. Respect health and especially physical fitness. You either move it or lose it - both physically and mentally. That's the life long lesson from my father who is almost 92 yrs now, mentally fit, and still golfs and rides his bike, etc. In the rock and gem hunting circles we have many who are over 90 and still enjoy the meets and hunts.

          Notice this -- the people who are old (or older) in this forum that seem to have the most vivid and varied memories, and be in the best physical shape for their ages.. It's because they never stop going, doing, seeing, learning. Take a lesson, kid. LOL.
          Here! Here!

          I agree 100%! Watch what goes in and on your body as well. That's the only thing I would add to Sal's advice.

          Just last night Bill and I went to dinner with some friends that we haven't seen in about five years.

          When we were leaving, Luke said, "Terra, I can't leave without saying this. Damn you look good! Don't you ever age?"

          The first thing that came to mind was, When's the last time you had your eyes checked? Haha! Then I just blurted out, "I love you!" LOL!

          You've got to take care of yourself, body, mind and spirit. It does wonders!


          Terra
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          • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
            Banned
            Originally Posted by MissTerraK View Post

            The first thing that came to mind was, "Have you never heard of embalming fluid?
            That one's a freebie. :-)

            Cheers. - Frank
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            • Profile picture of the author MissTerraK
              Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

              That one's a freebie. :-)

              Cheers. - Frank
              Now, now Frank.

              Embalming Fluid-Soaked Marijuana

              You shouldn't give out your secrets for free.


              Terra
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              • Profile picture of the author tagiscom
                Originally Posted by discrat View Post

                Call me a sentimental SOB but I just can't see your Worthiness down for the count into NOTHINGNESS when all is said and done.

                There has to be a continuation of that Greatness in some way ,shape , or form. No ??

                Give us something, big man. A grasshopper, a comet in the sky, a 2400 A.D.Vacuum Cleaner salesman reincarnated in Claudette's body.

                Just something, please throw us a rope here
                I am sure that some of his friends will come to visit his grave,.....and their pet dogs?


                Originally Posted by MissTerraK View Post

                Here! Here!

                I agree 100%! Watch what goes in and on your body as well. That's the only thing I would add to Sal's advice.

                Just last night Bill and I went to dinner with some friends that we haven't seen in about five years.

                When we were leaving, Luke said, "Terra, I can't leave without saying this. Damn you look good! Don't you ever age?"

                The first thing that came to mind was, When's the last time you had your eyes checked? Haha! Then I just blurted out, "I love you!" LOL!

                You've got to take care of yourself, body, mind and spirit. It does wonders!


                Terra
                Yep, Terra, me to, l don't go much over 35, eventhough l am almost 50.

                Says a lot for ignoring herd advise!

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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    Nobility comes in a lot of forms, Terra. What the hell did you think you were doing when you fought that school system for you son against them drugging him? That's a hard fight. It might not have been a stand in front of bullets thing - but it's a hard fight that takes guts and tenacity. And -- it might have helped save other kids down the road.

    Frank is right - don't sell yourself short. Most people, if they think about it, can find something that they've done that can be considered noble.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

    On July 6, 1965 at the ripe, old age of 16, I volunteered for Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Army. I wanted to do it on the 4th of July, but it was a Sunday and Monday was the national holiday, so the recruitment center was closed.

    After filling out the paperwork, I was informed it would remain on file until my upcoming 17th birthday on October 12th. I had to return on that day to get my papers stamped and to receive an official day to report for induction.

    I was there when the doors opened on October 13th, (Columbus day was the 12th. Closed, again!) got my papers stamped and was given a report date of January 4, 1966 - 8 AM - sharp!

    On this day, 50 years ago, at 2 PM, I was on a train, along with a bunch of others, most of whom were drafted, heading for Ft. Jackson, in Columbia, SC

    The two things I remember the most about that train ride were, first - being ridiculed for volunteering for military service and second - the crazy conspiracy theorists spreading the rumor that the Army was so desperate for fresh grunts, that we were being taken to a secret airbase where we were to be loaded onto C130 transports and taken directly to Vietnam without so much as a day's training.

    What a long, strange trip the past 50 years have been. I wouldn't change a single day, not even the worst one of them, if it would have changed where I am at this precise moment in time. The universe has seen fit to bless me and I am very thankful.

    Fifty-years. That's amazing since none of my childhood friends ever thought I would make it to 30. My Saturdays are very busy from spending most of the day traveling around, pissing on their graves. Just kidding. I miss them all, terribly.

    With all of my health issues, it stills seems as if it's going to take an elephant gun to bring me down - and I'm not certain that one shot will do the job. I'd suggest you load up on ammo!

    Cheers. - Frank
    With the recent news from your ex-therapist...I just want to say...Welcome back.
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    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

      With the recent news from your ex-therapist...I just want to say...Welcome back.
      Thanks, Kurt. I would have responded sooner but I was busy pulling the wings off of flies.

      Yes - I'm all better, now. :-)

      Cheers. - Frank
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      • Profile picture of the author Kurt
        Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

        Thanks, Kurt. I would have responded sooner but I was busy pulling the wings off of flies.

        Yes - I'm all better, now. :-)

        Cheers. - Frank
        Should we call them "walks"?
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        • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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          Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

          Should we call them "walks"?
          Probably not. He hit them in the knees with a tiny baseball bat too.
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        • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
          Banned
          Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

          Should we call them "walks"?
          I prefer the word, 'snacks,' but whatever floats your boat is fine with me, as long as you keep your hands off of them.

          Cheers. - Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
    fifty years ago all i was waiting for was sgt pepper,
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  • Profile picture of the author agc
    Congrats on the 50 years, and thank you for your service. I may not agree with your economics and politics, but you have certainly earned the right to have them!
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    One man's terrorist is another man's patriot

    Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground - Frederick Douglas

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