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Basic Training
       The first train ride of my life took me from DuBois, Pennsylvania, to San Antonio, Texas. Lackland Air Force Base was where I received basic training, sometimes known as "hut, hut, ho-dee-oh, left, right, left…" At our first assembly a nice looking soldier with bird-do on his hat visor said a few nice things to impress us.  "When this training is over you will hope to God you never go through it again, but you will always be glad you did." Then he introduced us to Sergeant Tenny. I remember Sergeant Tenny's words, "You are now under my command. You are assigned to Flight 4018. Now you can give your soul to God, because for the next 90 days, your ass is mine!
       Basic training reminds me of a couple good true stories. I can't make up stories better than the true ones. The only stories of mine that are not truthful are the ones I can't remember right.
       One day the whole camp marched to a large field about two miles from the barracks to be entertained by people from Hollywood. My barracks, Flight Forty-eighteen, was lost in a sea of tan uniformed airmen. Most veterans know that when you march in formation, especially in basic training, nobody talks and nobody squawks. I used to have frequent nose bleeds when I was young. It was routine. When my nose started bleeding, I stopped what I was doing and waited till it quit. It gave me a chance to paint things red, like rocks, bugs, grass...whatever was handy that needed painting. Remember now, we are marching in formation on a hot Texas day in our best parade uniform. I felt it coming! Blood ran down over my lips and dripped off my chin. Then it started dripping on my tie, then the shirt, next my pants and shoes. I had to keep marching. I thought, 'The sergeant will see me and pull me out of line.' We arrived at the entertainment site and sat down on the grass. There we watched the show for about two hours and then marched back to the barracks where I was able to clean up. From time to time the sergeant and I had looked each other right in the eyes. Not once was a word spoken about my bloody uniform. The sergeant and I both did what was expected and we both knew it. That was the last of it.
       On our last day in the barracks before leaving Lackland AFB, I saw a side of Sergeant Tenny that hadn't shown in the last three months. Sergeant Tenny was a hard man, but as he shook hands with each of us, there were tears in his eyes. 

GI Parties   

        We were into basic for about a week when pent up abandon surfaced.  After lights out at 10 PM a couple of guys started telling jokes in the dark.  Before long the fun caught on and the noise and laughter awakened the flight instructor who slept in his room at the end of the barracks.  The whole flight of 72 men was promptly ordered out of bed for a GI Party.  Still in our shorts, all the bunks and footlockers were pushed to one end of the room.  We were all on our knees with stiff bristle brushes for about 2 hours with fells naphtha, water and suds flying in all directions.  After drying the floor, all the bunks had to be spotted and aligned perfectly with the footlockers and our first GI Party was over.  That was the last time there was a "peep" out of any one after the lights went out. 
     There were private parties now and then, too.  I laced my shoe one day with one of the laces crossed under when it should have been on top. You wouldn't think the Flight Chief would have noticed that.  That night while others slept, I sat in the staircase all night under the nose of the barracks guard lacing and unlacing my brogans.
     There was one other party in boot camp worthy of mention. It was our "Garden Party."  The lawn outside the barracks looked like desert sand to me.  I don't recall any grass, weeds, or anything growing there.  However, it came to pass that one day a load of manure was delivered and spread uniformly over the grounds. It made a farm boy feel right at home.  I think it was two days later that our barracks fell out with instructions to pick up all the manure, bare handed of course.  Sergeant Tenny said: "If you find any farts pick them up, too."  By now I had learned that you don't laugh, even if you want to. Some of the trainees may have found picking up manure bare handed revolting.  For me it was like a visit home where half of my farm work was loading and spreading manure with a pitchfork.
     One good thing came out of the Garden Party.  While looking for farts, I put my hand in my pocket to scratch my crotch.  I had an itch for a few weeks and didn't know why.  The CO was watching our party from his office, and dispatched a doctor to check me for hygiene.  The itch was diagnosed as ringworm which responded quickly to treatment.