On the first day, not long after I had gotten there, I raised my right hand with 40 other men and swore that I would support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I would bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I would obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me. For good or for bad, I was now a soldier in the United States Army and Uncle Sam owned me for the duration. The food at the induction center was okay, as far as Army food goes. We were fed on mess kits and the cooks just threw the food around on the plate such that it got all mixed together. I spent most of my time at Fort McClellan policing the area for cigarette butts, which involved a lot of crawling around in the grass on my hands and knees, looking for bits of paper and tobacco. There really wasn’t much of a need for our services, as the grass was immaculate to begin with. I think they gave us that assignment just to keep us busy when we didn’t have anything else to do. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ About an hour after leaving Jacksonville, we pulled into the station at Stark, Florida. It was a small town with a good many houses, a few stores and the train station, all arranged on a main street and a few side streets. At first appearances, it didn’t look like there was a whole lot to do in the town and I found out later that my initial assumption was about right. We loaded up into trucks and were transported to Camp Blanding, which was about five or six miles away. Upon arrival, we all but fell out of the trucks and then lined up in some semblance of a formation, where we were met by a lieutenant and some non-coms. The lieutenant looked us up and down and then went through the usual greetings and warnings. When the lieutenant finished his introductions, he asked if there was anyone that was not drunk. Private Brush raised his hand and proudly proclaimed, “I haven’t had a drop, sir!” The officer replied to him, “Well good! You go on KP in the morning, the others aren’t going to feel like it.” Brush was a good little boy and didn’t quite fit in with the rest of us. He ended up in clerical school and was later transferred to another unit around the time we went overseas. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Before walking the guard, we would have to stand for inspection and the best dressed soldier would get to stay in the guardhouse. By then, we had been reissued new GI clothing, which now included leggings instead of putties, in place of our cavalry uniforms. The first night that I showed up wearing the new leggings, I was really dressed out and looking sharp, because I wanted to be sure that I stayed in the warm guardhouse. Lieutenant Hume inspected us thoroughly and when he looked down at my feet, I could tell by his expression that something was wrong. When he finished looking me over, he said to me, “Trooper, I want to see you after this formation.” After we broke ranks, he asked me, “You’ve never worn leggings before, have you?” I replied, “No, sir.” He paused a second, then stunned me with “Well, you’ve got them on backwards.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As punishment for the men that got caught fighting, all of Recon was detailed to clean up the camp. We were rousted up early the next morning and put to gathering up trash and what not from around the camp. When we got the various areas picked up, we waited by the streets for trucks to come by so we could load up the collected garbage and haul it off. With the trucks full, we then headed to the local dump in nearby Taunton. I had mentioned earlier that it was cold, so to warm themselves some of the men in one of the trucks started a small fire in the bed. At least that was their story. The fire was a good one too, with the burning trash producing lots of smoke. My good friend, Charlie Hall, was the driver of that particular truck and he wasn’t stopping for nothing. He drove the truck all the way through Taunton with the police and fire engines chasing him, their lights and sirens going full blast trying to stop him so that they could put out the fire. Charlie drove all the way to the dump before he finally stopped. The firemen bailed off of their fire engine and started dousing the blaze while Charlie and the other men just stood there with mischievous grins on their faces. That little escapade ended our work detail. The camp commander told us that they didn’t need us to clean up anymore after that and the incident was soon forgotten.