Joining up


  When Shall we three meet again?
  In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
  When the hurlyburly's done,
  When the battle's lost and won.

                Shakespeare, Macbeth


updated 1/12
Dominic Vautier

I dropped out of college in 1964 after my third year.  It wasnít the studies because my grades were good--well, not real good--but good enough to graduate with honors or so I imagine.  No it was something else and like a lot of college students during the early 60ís, I was confused and searching for answers.  It wasnít even the war or the idea of joining up that bothered me very much.  It was the direction of my life.  In fact the war hadn't even really started yet but just about everybody knew it and saw it coming.  I joined up anyway.  It gave me some time to figure things out so I did what about what any other unattached, unmarried, 22 year-old guy in my frame of mind would do; I joined the U. S. Army to see the world.  Fun, travel and adventure was the motto so here we come.

In a way my luck held out because I actually got what I asked for when I enlisted.  I wanted to go to Europe and I also wanted a military job that could be useful after service, something outside, something at the same time involving mathematics or science so they promised to send me to Germany and give me a job in artillery as a surveyor and I got to do both of those things.  They said these are jobs that have civilian counterparts in fields of surveying, civil engineering, landscaping, growth management, urban planning, etc. where military survey knowledge can come in handy.  So I took the deal.

The U. S Army gave me my very own serial number RA19811874.  What a deal, my own number which was even on my dog tags and which I got to have around my neck for the next three years and maybe the rest of my life.

Sure I knew about the coming buildup in Vietnam, and just like a lot of other guys considered the idea of all the action and quick rank, but the whole idea of it was overcome by the prospect of wading around in mosquito infested swamps, so I wanted Germany where there were castles and culture and Italy so close--and I got it.

I did my basic training at Fort Ord, California in September and October of 1964 and was then sent to advanced survey training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  In April,1965 my orders sent me to Germany and I reported to Warner Barracks, Bamberg, West Germany where I spend the next two and a half years.  I was honorably discharged in August 1967.  That is a brief summary of my army career--but there was so much to tell.  


Here are some of my stories.

Dismounted Drill is the frustrating attempt to move large numbers of people around quickly.  Good Luck sergeant.




Olive Drab (universally known as OD) was more than an uninteresting color.  It was a way of life, and we lived it every single day.


FTA.  Those great words stand for Fun. Travel and Adventure.  After all isn't that what the Army is all about?
Trainfire (Firearms Training)  was the high point of Basic.  After that everything was forgettable.

The ultimate test of courage was the bayonet.

So what did you do in the Army?
I worked in a TAB unit.
A what unit?
A Target Acquisition Battery.  We went out and found targets.  Then we got to "bring fire".
He was my T-2 operator and he could drink like 10 Irishmen--no 20 Irishmen.  His name was Gleason.  


War Games.  War Games.  Let's have some War Games.  How about Mauden Mauler?  Does that sound like fun or what?



Midnight Requisition.  Way to run a battery. Like maybe shopping in the mall at Christmas or something?
In Artillery Survey we use a lot of range poles and they are always getting lost (and more often found).  

So how do you get from here to there?  Or more accurately, how do you measure from here to there?  With a DME of course.  



It is impossible for an earthquake to do any damage to Germany.  The whole country is securely tied up in commo wire.

Rank.  What is rank and how do you get it.  Do you really deserve it or does it just fall from heaven?
Save is from the squawk boxes.  I had a few encounters with these evil little devices that are worth the time to talk about.


I had a car.  Yes.  I actually had a car in Germany when I was still an E-2 know-nothing slick-sleeve.   


Beer became a way of life to the American soldier stationed in Germany during the 60s.  I'll drink to that.  





Some guys you meet in the army turn out to be very competent...others not so.  The Dog was like that.
I went to Italy three times while stationed in Europe.  My first trip to that enchanted land was the most memorable.
    It's cold in Germany and the roads get covered with ice...a very dangerous situation.  I know all about just how dangerous it can be.
We had this real fun activity being on an aggressor team.  Just make sure  you know what you're doing.  



So there we were in Germany during the cold war just spoiling to go toe-to-toe with the East Germans in their funny looking tin-can helmets.  How did we prepare for this conflict?  We got to do some fun stuff like alerts.
Gas is what makes cars go and I had an unlimited supply of it.  The only trouble was it spelled big trouble.





So I got my E-5 rank after 23 months in service.  No kidding!  Now just how did that happen?
Determining management caliber--the eternal question.  I think it has a lot to do with money, like dollars and cents.


It's hard to understand how some could spend their paycheck immediately, and then have to borrow from the evil moneylenders.

How do you communicate in the U.S. Army in Europe around 1966.  Day to day conversation was not only clear and direct, it was often very colorful.  Here is a list of some expressions as near as I can recall.  I am sure there are many more expressions.  Meanings may change from location.