As previously mentioned, I was suppose to ship out for the military post high school graduation.
I applied for, and was accepted into the Delayed Entry program for the Army during my senior year in high school. It was a time of peace, and they were offering to pay for college. Why not? I could do 4 years active, 6 years reserves, or a combination of both. Do my time, get training, get out if I didn’t like it, and move on with life. That was the plan.
I attended Reserve drill in Orangeburg during my senior year. It never conflicted with Marching Band, but it did conflict with my part time job at McDonald’s. Honestly, it only conflicted because of the McDonald’s scheduling, though I provided them all of my Drill dates and Band event dates. There was one major blow up and told the manager that the United States government backed the fact that she could not interfer with me going to Drill. She huffed and puffed and left me alone. I guess she fixes the schedule.
Going to Drill was good. The Reserve group in Orangeburg was fun, but they knew their stuff, and did their best to prep those there in Delayed Entry for their upcoming Basic Training. We learned protocol, breaking down and putting back together a M-16, topographical map reading, etc. We also learned how not to volunteer.
We all drove to drill. Keep that in mind. We are in a classroom looking over maps. A Sergeant comes in and asks who has a driver’s license? Now wait a minute. My brain engaged quickly. I didn’t raise my hand. The fella next to me raised his with a smile on his face. Yup, the Sergeant got him. “Drive this broom up and down the hallway.”
The master plan was to attend Basic Training at Fort Jackson in September, then go to Fort Eustis in Virginia for my job schooling. I would get back in time to enjoy Christmas, then start school at USC in the Spring. Perfect planning right?
I passed all tests and physicals. I had done everything that was needed including graduated from high school. My recruiter picked me up at my house, and took me to the hotel to await the bus the next morning.
I took that ride to Fort Jackson on the bus. There was one last physical to take. That’s when the brakes were hit. The doctor said I couldn’t ship. Scoliosis. Curvature of the spine. Mine was to much. I called me recruiter. He was shocked. Yeah, me too. He drove to Columbia, SC to pick me up. There was another way in. I could complete a waiver that had to be approved in DC. Let’s do it.
I stood in the yard as my Grandfather arrived home bewildered at why I was there. I explained. I took a day to soak it all in and another to gather myself.ayeb it was a week, but anyways, that waiver vanished and so did my recruiter. Matter of fact my whole attempt to enlist vanished. I was a ghost. Devine intervention, or someone on the inside saying nope, not him, I’ll never be fully sure.
Starting school at USC was still on course, but I had no funds. Job hunting I went. I found one immediately. Same day. Interview and hire on the spot. I wasn’t even dressed right for an interview. Young kid in shorts and a t-shirt gets a fresh start because an opening is available ASAP due to some guy walking off the job. Look at God. If you’re wondering, I got a job at Dollar Tree.
The military was not to be. I kept life moving forward.