Become a Fan
By Henry L. Lefevre
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
Never depend on conventional wisdom.
During the summer of 1941, when World War II was only a faraway overseas nightmare, I was drafted right out of college. The Draft Board didn't give me the option of finishing my last year of chemistry and getting a degree. The vague pressures of a possible war were too threatening.
Besides, I signed up with the wrong draft board. My home was in East Los Angeles but I was going to school at the University of California in Berkeley. I figured that the choice of the draft board in East Los Angeles gave me the highest probability of getting deferred since that area had rather few of us self-proclaimed geniuses whereas I was one of the many students at Cal.
My, but did I get that one wrong. The Berkeley
Draft Board must have been loaded with college professors who valued advanced education. Once I had been drafted, I heard that the Berkeley Draft Board not only favored students wanting deferments, it even encouraged them to go on to graduate school and avoid the draft as long as they could.
The East Los Angeles Draft Board had a different slant on life. Rumor had it that not one of their members ever got past the third grade in school. As a consequence, they figured that college kids didn't need any more than third grade book learning. It was time for students like me to give up my books and enter that advanced educational program called the school of hard knocks. Besides, there were too many aircraft workers in Southern California and their services were needed at home much more than mine were.
Believe it or not, they did me a favor -- but that's a whole different story.
The first lesson the school of hard knocks tried to teach me was "no matter how tempting the bait, never volunteer for nothing, nowhere and no how. Being a brash college kid, I never did absorb that bit of homespun wisdom.
After failing to fail my first physical, I reported to Fort McArthur, an old army base in the metropolis of San Pedro, California. It was a lovely stopover, close to a center of petroleum stench, bilge water discharge, and periodic visitations from the rats of the wharf. In other words, a perfect spot for army cook training.
Fortunately they quickly surmised that I wasn't cut out to be an army cook. I had malocclusion. My teeth were malformed. I couldn't field test GI hardtack.
Once I reported for duty, the army sergeant lined us up in formation. Then, he asked, "Who knows how to type."
Due to some flaw in my genes, I stepped forward. Immediately, I heard a stage whisper behind me saying, "This is the army. Never volunteer for nothing no-how."
I turned green. What was I in for?
Guard duty? Not likely. The only time I had fired a weapon was the time I accidentally shot a squirrel that had a death wish. The stupid rodent jumped into the path of a .22 peashooter that I happened to fire.
Kitchen Police, alias KP? That sounded worse. I was seriously vulnerable to getting dishpan hands. That, however, was not an excuse as far as army regulations went.
Policing the barracks area in the hot summer sun with nothing more than a sharp pointed stick? Well, at least I was qualified for that.
Then came my sentence. "Report to the Captain's office," the drill sergeant said.
I had dodged that bullet. They actually did need a typist. As a consequence, I spent the entire day reading pulp fiction, writing notes home, and occasionally typing a few notes for the Captain.
Ever since that career changing day, I have always volunteered whenever given the chance -- and I always made out like a bandit. In the process, I learned one very interesting fact of life. "Conventional wisdom isn't worth half as very much as a cup of cold, week-old, GI coffee."
Site: Goose Droppings
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|Reviewed by Michael Guy
|This one's funny: as you LUCKED OUT! Most volunteers end up with what they deserve! Usually in the service if you volunteer for anything it ends up your permanent job. My Dad was a meticulous pilot and "volunteered" to be a flight trainer: for the rest of the War he could never escape that assignment; and desperately went AWOL once to force the brass to send him into combat missions; he came back and apologized and they didn't charge him because he was running not away from combat but becuase he wanted into action! Lucky for me they didn't want to spare his skills, as he probably would have been shot down, being so meticulous!
I'm planning to write a fiction book on his "service duties: called "Squadron Eleven" but I will have to dramatize much!
keep 'em coming, MIKE