I would be remiss if I did not mention a few Army tales.
I served with some great soldiers. I met Kendall Young at Ft. Lewis, Washington in basic combat training (BCT). He had the bottom bunk, I had the upper at B-3-1. We moved to Ft. Ord, California for Advance Infantry Training (AIT). We had the usual BCT experiences then the same in California. We did get a weekend off in Monterey during the middle of the cycle.
Kendall was a single man and did not get much mail at mail-call. I was married to Wil and got several letters a week. It was over 25 years later that Kendall told Wil, how he appreciated her letters, since he didn’t get any, he got to read hers too keep up on things at home.
That very weekend, we received a pass, Monterey put on a little Rock and Roll event called the Monterey Pop Festival. It was two years before Woodstock and was attended by about 200,000 of counter-coulter types that looked completely different from we short-haired GI’s. A few little-known bands like The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Mommas and Papas, and a ton of others I don’t even remember. Makes me feel a little like Forrest Gump of Ft. Ord.
Kendall and I were both in the Army Reserve and went our separate ways for over 12 years, then ran into each other in a Mess Hall at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. By then we were both Drill Sergeants, later we were both promoted to Command Sergeant Major (CSM) on the same day. I always told him I out-ranked him as Blackford comes before Young.
I served with plenty of good Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) like Kendall, CSM George Nixon. CSM Tom Tatro, CSM Pat Beihl, from Louisiana. With a superb Warrant Officer, Bob Riggs, of Tulsa with whom I still play golf with, and is an administrative genius. With great officers, like Colonel Jerry Matthews, Colonel Terry Finkbiner of Texas, Colonel Deral Clow, of Tulsa. I also put up with several idiots, two of whom ended up in prison, one Colonel Clayton Smart is still there.
The one I worked most closely with and learned so much from, Major General Claude Roberts of Houston Texas. Many officers like to hear themselves talk. General Roberts was a no BS kind of person. After he took command of the 95th Division, I was selected to be the Division CSM. Our first Staff Meeting lasted four hours. Each G-staff section briefs the Command General (CG), and each one said the same thing over and over. When each were finished, it is our turn to talk. The General said. “Is everyone finished?” No takers. “Alright, here is the deal, this took nearly four hours. Both the Sergeant Major and I have been to college. The next Officer that causes a staff meeting to be longer than 45 minutes, will be fired. Any Questions?” There were none. We never had a staff meeting longer than 30 minutes during our tenure. I play golf with Claude every time I am in Houston or when he comes to Tulsa to see his grandchildren.