Let’s back track just a little. Here’s an historical account of the time spent waiting at the 30th AG, which was the processing station for new recruits. At this station, we were given all of our shots, issued uniforms, filled out the proper induction paperwork, and so have you. Normally, a soldier only spends a few days processing. Here’s a first hand account taken from some of the letters home. Let me know if you’d rather I skip this part and continue with the narrative, or if you enjoy “watching these old home videos.” These old letters aren’t edited, so bear with me.
07 November 97, 6:45 PM, Fort Benning, Georgia, 30th AG Battalion
Things have changed dramatically. We arrived at Ft. Benning at 12 A.M. I was expecting them to just send us to the barracks for the night, but it didn't happen. They started processing us immediately after a delay of one hour. We finally reported to our bunks at 0330 AM, and we woke up at 0430 AM. We were all so exhausted but too tired to care. I am so tired right now that I can hardly remember how anything happened today. They made me throw away my camera and lots of other things. And then they allocated to us our P.T. (physical training) workout suit, which we will wear until Monday. We also were inoculated...
…we received four shots today, polio, flu, and something described to us, but I have no idea what it was it made me feel bad. (It was a combination of antibiotics.) They gave it to us in the rear. It was a 4cc shot! I have knot in my rear as big as a walnut, and so does everyone else. The other shots were administered by high pressured guns. It was so powerful that you never feel the shot, but there were no needles involved. After the shots, we went and got our hair cuts which cost me $3.15. They didn't use a guard; we have no hair! Then we went and spent another $80 at the P. X. buying more stuff. (Which they won't let us use.) This is very army! :-) The food here has been really good. We did not receive toilet paper, but I finally found a roll this evening, which I stole from the barber shop. I personally haven't been yelled at by anyone except one drill sergeant that I accidentally walked too close to. There are plenty of Gomer Pile's here for him to pay attention to, which occupies his time. I simply stand there while he yells at them. I am so exhausted. I think that I will put this down until later.
0 8 November 97, 05 15 AM
Good morning! I woke up feeling great. As usual, I woke up around 0430, and our formation is at 0520, so I had plenty of time. I slept hard and I really needed it. It took me quite awhile to make my bed, and it still doesn't look right, but I have a feeling that the correct method will find me soon. My muscles are a little sore from the shots, but not as bad as I imagined. Well, I have a formation, I better go...
This is the longest day. Saturdays are dead except for the five formations we have to do. We did have to clean our barracks for inspection; however, the sergeants never came by and inspected our work, for which I'm very glad. There are a lot of idiots in our group, but the other companies across the sidewalk are constantly in trouble. Those companies have to stay here another ten days. Tentatively, we are supposed to ship out the middle to the end of next week. I also found out today that the infantry boot camp is the hardest of all and is comparable to the Marines boot camp. I know that I can handle it. If these kids can do it, I can also. The food is really good here, but it is different at the main chow hall, as ours is localized. One of our drill sergeants informed us that he intends on letting us have phone privileges on Sunday. However, I fully expect it to be taken away from us before we receive it. There are a lot of idiots around here. They are constantly whining about everything and are too stupid not to get into trouble. I do not look forward to our first week of boot camp. However, things aren't as bad here as they could be. In fact, this place is just boring. I don't mind the rest. We stand in formation a lot and that really kills my feet because I'm not used to my tennis shoes.
We haven't received our BDU's, that is, battle dress uniform, which is our camouflage. We will get that issue on Monday as well as to more shots and our ID cards. Only the gullible people believe a big rumor here. They think that they will get a shot in their (XXXXXX censored for your protection…). These people are idiots... I am bored with my present company.
I really miss sitting down in a real chair. The only thing is that we are allowed to sit on is our footlocker. Our drill sergeant doesn't want us to sit on the bed until 8:00 PM.
….The only people doing well here are the ones with a good attitude. For example, just the other day, the MPs came and arrested three boys for fighting with their drill sergeant. I am sure that they have learned their lessons, but it is too late. Well, it's time for lights out, so I'll talk to you tomorrow and mail this letter. As yet, I have no address and won't until I get to boot camp. Goodnight, I will talk to later.
Sunday, 9 November 1997, 19:00
Today I went to the chapel and I really enjoyed it. It was very good service and about 25 to 30 men asked for salvation afterwards... After that, we got in trouble for talking in formation and had to do push-ups while our drill sergeants sang songs at random. This lasted for 30 to 40 minutes. Well, it's getting close to lights out, so I will close this letter and start anew tomorrow.
I love you and wish to see you again. Until later, (specifically, December the 20th)
Okay, let me know if these old letters aren’t interesting, and I won’t post anymore of them. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my feelings. After all, I’ve had Drill Sergeants talk to me in a very personal fashion. I can assure you that nothing you say will be remotely similar!