.._. / _ / ._  Fun, Travel, Adventure.

Ft. Ord Radio School, June-July 1969

mvs isla vista 1968

This is the only known photo of me wearing long hair and beads. The International Peace Shrine in the mountains above Gaviota, 1968. Grad student, engaged to be married, TAing plus covering classes for a Prof on disability. Then my Uncle Sam, he said, a-knock knock, "Here I am."

I figured it was better me than some poor sap who couldn't handle it. To Barbara's great dismay, I went willingly.

Thank you, Mr. Nixon.

in the barracks

These are AIT photos, Advanced Individual Training. No cameras, no personal property of any kind, allowed in BCT, Basic Combat Training.

In AIT, we had one sensible platoon sergeant who left us alone when we were on our own time. The other guy was a total jerk. Here the boys have scored and are firing up.

Ft. Ord had regular supplies of "Panama Red" that reputedly flew into the local airstrip on Army aircraft.

These guys invariably volunteered to wash windows. The two story barracks featured an exterior skirt that offered firm footiing all around the troop bay. I finally figured out what was up when I smelled the smoke and stuck my head out the window to caution the guys not to get caught; dope was deep shit trouble. And the point is?


In Basic, the last week, a fellow invited me to help him dump the trash into the Dempsey Dumpster outside. Although it was a rare privilege to be outside the troop bay, this sounded like a fool's errand to me, "never volunteer for anything" was logic to live by. Every rule has its exception.

He'd been the longest haired malcontent on the bus up from the Induction Center, surfer-doper type. I'd kept him at arm's distance through Reception Center and Basic. Menso me.

Final Exam day at radio school. We drew some trucks, got our assignment, and headed out with only a map and compass. Assignment: get to the map coordinates, set up an AM radio transmitter, establish commo with another station.

We'd studied antenna positioning in school. A mathematical formula takes the AM frequency and other numbers to calculate the distance between poles and length of live wire to string out between the pair of twenty-five foot fibreglas poles.

The math was easy, so I took that as my task.

The boys had a bit of trouble figuring out how to lay down the guys and pull the poles into place, so I lent a hand. Normally, I enjoy hard work, I could watch it for hours. But this was cool; like breathing tear gas or tossing hand grenades, something I'd never done before.

Teamwork. We got everything installed then fired up the AN/GRY-19 radio and started sending morse Q-codes of some sort I no longer remember.

QRC QRC QRC DE GRAYSON BAKER 19 K Translated, that meant, "Hey out there, this is us. Over."

Then a series meaning, "I am about to send a series of letter V" so we did:

..._ / ..._ / ..._ / v / v / v / v / v / v /  K

No response. QRC QRC...


Forty-five minutes later, our counterparts somewhere on the other side of the fort finally got their antenna up, tuned in the frequency, and we completed the task. Q-THIS AND Q-THAT.

Then it was "A R Overstroke" or OUT.


A Hopi brother. He enlisted to go Special Forces. The Green Berets. We both knew about the WWII code talkers in the Pacific. I'd enjoyed a movie, "The Ira Hayes Story". He'd heard the stories around the house and was carrying a sense of duty and tradition. But why the Green Berets? Just because.

I enjoyed the torment of learning code, achieving fluency at  21 five-character groups per minute level, which is really fast. I was all impressed until I met some of the grizzled old commo NCOs. Those guys were really fast and accurate. They treated me well, for the short period I was Permanent Party in Radio School.

I never used morse code when I got to Bravo. Puro voice commo and telephone wire.


By this time an allergy to grass and dust had begun kicking my ass but good. Wheezing, coughing, sneezing. Loudly. Constantly.

The NCOs laughed that I would be a beacon for every Viet Cong asshole in the area. "Hack, achoo, snuff, hack hack hack," I protested. "Bang bang, you're dead," they laughed.

When the other team concluded their code, the team returned to barracks and a Sgt drove me to the hospital. What misery. Still, it looks like fun, que no?

Ft. Gordon, or Ft. Huachuca, here. we come

My class finished, here came another batch of radio operators fresh from Basic. Enjoy it, suckers!

Did it dah dit  / DAH / dit DAH

F. T. A.

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