We all live somewhere, occasionally move, and finally decide where we’d like to live and choose from a broad list coinciding with our lifestyle. And there are those who never seem to be happy whether on the move or staying put in one place. But traveling has become a way of life to some degree and people take advantage of the modern-day easy modes of transportation. So, it is the go-to question, conversation starter because travel includes so many other topics. Here are a few, weather, food, people, architecture, transportation, culture, lifestyle, work, it’s endless. This short story is about travel, my first flight on a plane, and a few memories of boot camp.

My first flight was a trip to boot camp at Fort Polk, in Louisiana, or as it was sentimentally called, Fort Puke. In those days, the early 1970s, passengers could smoke on planes. Every seat had an ashtray in the armrest. Even I smoked, started in high school, and finally gave up the coffin nails at around twenty-eight years old. Actually, this wasn’t my first time on an airplane. When I was ten I worked on my uncle’s farm, and on his land along the highway was a grass strip with three tin hangers where some farmers kept their planes. One farmer would always invite me along if I happen to be walking from the pasture or river.

I don’t recall the type of plane or airline, but it had two seats on either side of the aisle. From takeoff to landing I estimate it took about two or three hours. So, the flight landed at the airport in New Orleans, and I didn’t have a chance to see anything because we caught a bus to the fort. After arriving we were given orders, and marched off to a building to get inoculations, given uniforms, two pair of boots, dog tags, and some other instructions. After being taken to our barracks, the Drill Sargent told us to clean the floor. Of we stood there dumbfounded because we had nothing to clean with. Then someone mentioned that, and the Drill Sargent said, you have hands, use them.

 Three weeks in the whole platoon had gone through what was called, The Creeping Crud, basically a flu like symptom that lasted a week. We had to run everywhere. If you walked out of the barracks, were not running, and got caught, pushups were in your future. Wednesday was called hotel night because it was the day the sheets were changed; lot of the platoon jerked off that night. There were classes, rifle cleaning and shooting, we threw grenades, rode in trucks to woods, and toward the end of the eight weeks we did a prison camp simulation. The very last part of field training was an escape from one end of a forest, at night with flares shooting off, as we tries not to be captured.

Of course I can’t remember every detail, but way down deep there are memories that pop up from time to time when I look at some of the pictures I took. I’ve always liked photography, so I took my 120 twin lens Yashica along with me, and took shots of the time spent at Fort Polk. That fort is still a training center for the Army, and a movie, Tiger Land, was about the training there at the time of the Vietnam War. I was there at the end of the Vietnam War, so ended up being stationed at another place. I haven’t gone into too much detail about the eight weeks I spent there because most of it was routine training. Cheers


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