Machine Guns & Hand Grenades

Don’t Play With Things That Go Boom

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Don’t play with things that go boom. Lessons from my days in olive drab by Clint Morey, Specialist 4th Class, retired. 

Well … not actually retired … it’s more like I didn’t re-up.

Episode 6: “Machine Guns & Hand Grenades”

The Army still had more weapons that we had to learn how to use. But we didn’t have to master them They just wanted to expose us to them.

The M60 Machine Gun

This may sound a little weird in today’s world but I have to admit that using a lot of these weapons was fun.

The M60 machine gun was a good example.

It fires about 550 rounds per minute.

That’s a lot of firepower.

We shot at old cars that had been set out on the firing range and the bullets from the M60 literally ripped the cars to shreds.

You would not want to be on the receiving end of one of these weapons.

Grenade Launcher

And then there was the grenade launcher. I believe it was called an M79 but I’m not sure.

Give me a break.

It was over a half century ago.

This weapon was also a lot of fun to use. It only fired one round at a time but the round it fired packed quite a punch.

Similar to a shot gun, the M79 fired one 40mm grenade at a time. But it had a range of over 300 yards, a lot farther than an infantryman could throw a hand grenade.

Hand Grenades

Speaking of hand grenades, I’d seen soldiers throwing hand grenades in the movies so I thought it would be easy. It looked like throwing a baseball.

Before they let us touch a real grenade, however, they made us practice with a “dummy” grenade. Those “dummies” were small metal objects that resembled a grenade.

What struck me was how heavy they were.

It definitely wasn’t a baseball.

Throwing one of these puppies took concentration and strength.

You had to be able to throw it over a certain height — there was a rope you had to clear — and it had to cover a certain distance.

I think they didn’t want you to throw it such a short distance that it would do major damage to yourself and your buddies.

If you couldn’t clear the height and cover the distance, they didn’t let you near a real grenade.

Of course, we received instructions on how to activate it by pulling the pin. When you threw the grenade the “handle” would pop off and the countdown to explosion would begin.

We were warned about “milking” the grenade which is loosening your grip on the handle while you held it. The instructors explained that if you did that you could unknowingly set off the timer and it would blow you up even as you held it in your hand.

Definitely not a desired outcome.

I don’t know about the others, but I tended to grip the handle very, very tightly. I had no desire to find out if what the instructors taught us was true.

Even with all those warnings, it seemed like an exciting activity.

I was looking forward to throwing my firsthand grenade thinking it would be just like the movies.

We were positioned behind a special concrete bunker and the instructor threw a grenade. 

The explosion was unreal, sending dirt and rocks back at us.

It was then that I realized what I was holding in my hand. 

It was a tiny bomb that could rip you — or to be more accurate — rip me to pieces.

Needless to say, the “fun” quickly became respect for a very effective and very deadly weapon.

I also developed a lot of respect for the instructors who had to stand in the bunker next to recruits who had never thrown a grenade before.

Those instructors had to make quick decisions.

Whatever the Army was paying them wasn’t enough.

Chemical Attack

We also learned how to put on gas masks in case we came under a chemical attack.

After learning how to make the masks secure, we were taken to a small single room cabin in the woods. A small group was sent into the cabin and the instructor told us to put on our masks.

The instructor then walked around and tried to pull off each mask. If he was successful you had to leave your mask off while he went to the next step.

The next step was releasing the gas into the small room.

While those without masks began to tear up and some even looked like they were going to puke, the instructor explained how the gas worked on a human body.

Then he told all of us to take off our masks so we could experience what it felt like.

Recruits would cough, have trouble breathing, tear up and look unhealthy.

When the instructor thought a recruit was in enough pain, he would let them leave the cabin and go into the fresh air.

For some reason, the gas didn’t really bother me. I don’t know why but my eyes didn’t hurt and I didn’t feel sick.

But I didn’t want to stay in there to see how long I could last.

So — and I’m a little ashamed to admit this — I pretended to be in a great deal of discomfort.

The instructor looked at me and sent me out of the cabin.

I quickly went outside and enjoyed the cool, fresh air, without any bad effects from the g as.

Hand to Hand Combat

Then we had to learn how to defeat the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.

Now I would like to say that growing up I learned how to be a good fighter, a man’s man, but that would be just a little bit of an exaggeration.

Oh, I did watch wrestling on TV. Not that NCAA type wrestling where they had rules and regulations but the type of wrestling where people wore strange outfits and had even stranger names.

I also watched roller derby on TV. I think the sport was supposed to have something to do with skating but it often turned into fights.

I did not have a lot of practice with actual one-on-one fighting growing up.

In fact during my entire school career I was in a grand total of … oh, let’s see … what was it? … one … fight.

And I did my best to avoid that fight.

I prided myself on my ability to talk my way out of just about any difficult physical situation, but on that day I wasn’t successful.

Something was said to me on the playground — we’re talking 6th grade here — and my friends who heard what was said made it very clear to me that if I backed down I would be a worthless coward.

I didn’t really want to be a worthless coward.

I also didn’t want to fight but I wasn’t able to come up with any pithy comments that would let me leave with my dignity intact.

Being labeled a worthless coward seemed more than I could bear.

So, the fight began.

I moved quickly at my opponent and wrapped my arms around him. We fell to the ground and I continued to hold so he couldn’t hit me.

That was my entire strategy.

Hold on tight for as long as I could.

I can’t tell you how glad I was when a teacher came over to break up the fight.

My schoolyard honor was intact and, more importantly, I wasn’t hurt.


That’s the awesome fighting background I brought with me to the Army.

But the Drill Sergeant explained not only did we have to learn to use all those “fun” weapons we had been practicing with, but we also had to learn how to fight the enemy with our bare hands..

So the Army was going to teach me hand-to-hand combat.

They knew they had to begin with my attitude.

The Drill Sergeant screamed at us to get us properly motivated. “What’s the sweetest tasting liquid in the world?” 

We screamed back, “Blood, Drill Sergeant!”

That motivation technique wasn’t working for me.

But the Army didn’t care if my attitude was right. They went right on with the training.

We practiced many moves that were designed to disable an enemy who was trying to hurt us. It resembled something like judo but it seemed to me that it required an enemy who would let you grab him, trip him, and roll him to the ground.

As I considered real life applications of these skills in a combat situation, I was leaning toward my preferred way of fighting developed back in 6th grade — wrap your arms around the enemy and hold on tight.

Hopefully a teacher or fellow soldier would come along and end the fight.

But then the Army introduced me to the hand-to-hand fighting technique of all hand-to-hand fighting techniques.

It was called …


As the Drill Sergeant demonstrated the technique, I was totally impressed.

More than impressed.

I was convinced this would work.

I could see this working in the jungles of Vietnam — in broad daylight or the dark of night. Night seemed like a better setting to me but I was sure it would work in either one.

It didn’t even matter if the enemy had a weapon.

This move was so good that victory was almost guaranteed.

You would sneak up on the enemy from behind and then quickly … wrap your arm around his neck, jump backwards with your feet going straight out behind you so you would land on your belly. 

The enemy, totally surprised, would fall backwards and land on his back.

On the way down to the ground you would make a quick move with your arm and break the enemy’s neck.

Battle over.

Talk about a move!

The Drill Sergeant had us practice the move on each other. Of course they had certain rules on how to practice because they didn’t want us breaking the necks of our fellow recruits.

But it was amazing.

It would work.

I was sure it would work.

There were a few possible complications however.

First, you had to find someone who stood perfectly still.

Second, you had to find someone who didn’t hear you sneaking up behind him through the jungle. Just stepping on a branch or leaf might give you away.

Third, you had to find someone who didn’t twist out of your hold as you wrapped your arm around his neck.

Fourth, you needed him to be willing to fall straight backwards so you could do the neck snapping thing.

Perhaps it’s a good thing I never had to use this technique in Vietnam.

But I was sure it would work … I think.


Now the Army had a lot of other things for us to learn — map reading, first aid, how to use peripheral vision to see at night, and many many more skills a real soldier would sue.

But finally, after two months of training, we were done.

We were ready to graduate and become real soldiers.


LESSON 1 – If you work with dangerous equipment or in dangerous situations learn to do it correctly.

LESSON 2 – Many people join the military to learn a skill or see the world but you must always remember … at any time you may be called to fight and kill. Don’t forget that.


In the next episode I’ll tell you about our graduation day. It didn’t go quite the way I thought it would.

If you enjoy this podcast, please share it with your friends.


Before I go, I’d like to share a blessing with you from the Old Testament.

“May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 (The Living Bible)

The Sweetest Tasting Liquid in the World

Don’t Play With Things That Go Boom

Click on the audio player above or read the transcript below.

Don’t play with things that go boom. Lessons from my days in olive drab by Clint Morey, Specialist 4th Class, retired. Well … not actually retired … it’s more like I didn’t re-up.

Episode 5: “The Sweetest Tasting Liquid in the World”

Now that the Army had us looking like soldiers, they had another job. 

And I have to admit, this job was a little more difficult than teaching us how to salute and march.

The Army had to teach us to become soldiers … real soldiers … fighters … or to be a bit more precise … they had to teach us how to kill.

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I Don’t Know But I’ve Been Told

Lessons from my days in olive drab

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Now when the army said they didn’t have room for us at Fort Ord, I actually wondered what we would be doing, but I shouldn’t have worried. The Army had a plan. 

The Army always had a plan. 

Now their solution to the problem of overcrowding was simple. 

They loaded us all on buses and sent us across the country to a place called Fort Polk, Louisiana. 

Now I have to admit, Fort Polk was a long way from the beautiful beaches of Monterey Bay, but Fort Polk was the place where the Army thought they could turn us into soldiers. 

And if you think about it, the army had set a pretty big task for itself. 

They were going take a bunch of US civilians, and in just eight weeks turn us into members of the most powerful military on the planet. 

When we arrived at Fort Polk, we were divided into groups and sent into barracks to meet our drill sergeants and be assigned our bunks. 

Now I can remember my very first day at Fort Polk while we were there setting up our bunks and unloading our duffel bags. 

Some of the men were taking showers and now I have to admit I hadn’t showered at Fort Ord, and I obviously hadn’t showered during our cross country trip on the bus. 

I was feeling a little grungy. 

So I decided to take a quick shower so I would begin my real Army training as a clean soldier. 

Who knows, that might even impress the drill sergeants that I was a good soldier. 

Well, that was my first mistake in the Army … doing something on my own. 

Now I realized it was a mistake when one of the drill sergeants began screaming at those of us who were taking showers.

Now this was a lot closer to what I expected from the movies I’d seen.

The Drill Sergeant explained in that very special way that Drill Sergeants explain things that he had not given permission to anyone to take a shower. 

And the first thing we needed to learn was we didn’t do anything unless he gave us permission to do that thing. 

Had it been possible to sneak away, I would have done so, but I was standing naked in the shower while the drill Sergeant screamed at us and there was no way to hide.

The Drill. Sergeant said we would do two firewatches that night. 

I had no idea what a firewatch was, but I quickly found out it was something along the lines of guard duty.

So instead of getting eight hours of restful sleep in my new home, I spent two hours at night pacing the barracks floor. 

I didn’t see any fires which was good because the wooden barracks had been built before World War Two and probably would have been consumed in seconds. 

But the next morning, the drill Sergeant got us out of bed and ordered us to take showers the Army way. 

The showers were to take 90 seconds.

Thirty seconds to get wet. 

Step back so someone else could get wet while the other person was getting wet. 

You had thirty seconds to soap up and scrub.

And then you were given thirty seconds to step back under the shower and rinse off and that was it. 

The First Goal

Now it was obvious that all of us had a lot to learn, and one of the first things we realized that the army set itself to do was to make us look like soldiers. 

They taught us how to fold our clothes, where to place them in our footlocker, and there was only one way — the Army way.

The Army taught us which uniform to wear. There were different uniforms for different occasions.

The Army taught us how to make our beds folding corners at 45 degree angles, making sheets and blankets tight. Now it took time to make some of them perfect and it had to be perfect. 

I can remember some nights I chose to sleep on top of the covers so that all I had to do in the morning was tighten the corners. 

The Important Stuff

Well, with those little skills out of the way, we got around to learning the important stuff. 

One of the most important lessons on our road to becoming a soldier was learning how to salute.

Now, I have to admit that I smile today at many Hollywood movies where the soldiers not only don’t salute properly, they seldom hold their salute until it’s returned. 

Well, after we learned how to salute, we then had to learn the next important task — who to salute.

We were just to salute officers but that meant we had to learn all the ranks and all the insignias so that we would know that a Second Lieutenant was lower than a Lieutenant Colonel. 

That kind of stuff. 

Now I have to admit I actually enjoyed saluting. 

I thought I did it well and I felt like it was a sign of respect. 

Many of the men in my unit, however, had a different view. 

Some hated saluting, and if they were walking down the street and saw an officer coming their way, they would literally cross the street so they could avoid having to salute the officer. 

Now there were also some others who were a bit more devious. 

If a group of them saw an officer coming their way on the sidewalk. 

They would purposely space themselves out in a straight line so that when the officer passed he would have to salute and salute and salute and salute. 

They seemed to enjoy that. 

Of course they were smart enough to know that you only really tried that on Second Lieutenants. 

We also had to learn the chain of command everyone from the drill Sergeant up to the President of the United States. 

We had to know who was important and where they stood in that chain. 

We had to know. 

Who we were supposed to obey, which as recruits was just about everyone who walked the face of the earth. 

We also learned how to gather into what was called squad formation. 

We learned how to stand at attention. 

And yes, there’s an army, a way to stand at attention. 

We learned how to stand at ease and how to be dismissed from a group. 

We learned how to turn — left face, right face about face. 

Now that may sound silly to you and I grant you it’s not rocket science, but there is an Army way to turn. 

In fact, once I was assigned to help a group of about, I think were four or five guys who were having difficulty learning their left face and right face. 

So we practiced and practiced and practiced until they master it. 

Like with saluting, when I watch a movie with a Hollywood soldier, I notice how the actors do an about face when they leave the presence of a superior officer. 

Few actors have the correct footwork.

And then we marched — lots and lots of marching. 

Now I enjoyed marching. 

Perhaps it was from my Junior High PE classes. 

I think our PE teachers were former Marines or something, but whatever, it was I just thought marching looked cool. 

I enjoyed being part of our group marching doing those things well. 

Keeping Step

One of the things we did when we marched to us use cadence calls that helped us keep step and it made the marching more fun. 

The Drill Sergeants would lead us in a cadence call while we marched. 

Now the drill Sergeant would call out a phrase and our entire company would respond back, usually with the same phrase. 

It could be as simple as left, right, left or Countdown 1 2 3 4. Bring it on down 1 2 3 4. That kind of thing. And when we were moving in double time, more like a slow jog, there were cadences just for that one. 

One that sticks in my mind that we used was called the Airborne Shuffle. 

The Drill Sergeant would call out. 

“I want to be an airborne Ranger”

And then we would respond with the same phrase. “I want to be an airborne Ranger.”

And the cadence went on. 

“I want to lead a life of danger.”

We’d respond. 

“I want to go to Vietnam.” 

“I want to kill some Charlie Cong.”

“Every day.”

“All the way.” 

“Airborne … Ranger.”

“Life of danger.”

OK, this is not exactly uplifting music, but it did help us keep in step. 

And they were trying to make us into warriors and for some reason they thought this would help.

However, as a Christian, I would say about a quarter, maybe a little bit less than that, of the cadence calls I wouldn’t say out loud. 

There was a cute little call about a yellow bird and I would say part of it as we marched. 

But then I wouldn’t say the part that described what we did to the little bird’s head. 

And then there was a cadence call that began with the drill Sergeant calling out, “I don’t know, but I’ve been told —”

And then we would all respond, “I don’t know, but I’ve been told.”

And the Drill Sergeant would tell us what he’d been told, and I’m not going to share with you what the Drill Sergeant said because I refused to say it when I was in the Army and I’m not about to say it to you today. 

And it wasn’t just the marching that had those kind of overtones. 

I remembered one time we were getting one of our uniforms out … I’m sorry the drill Sergeant told us we needed a certain uniform for a special occasion. 

I got my clothes on and I couldn’t remember which hat we were supposed to wear and I asked the guys around me do we wear a garrison cap with this? 

No one had any idea what I was talking about. 

It seemed no one in my entire unit knew what a garrison cap was. 

One guy finally held up a cap. 

It was a garrison cap and he said the name that everyone else used to identify it.

Well, it’s what the people in the army called it, but I would never use it and in fact I’ve I’ve wondered sometimes now that the army is co-ed, how many marching songs had to be dropped or severely rewritten? 

How many descriptions of items had to be redefined and how many people had to watch how they use the words that they used? 

Hopefully quite a few. 

Latrine Duty

There were four squads in our company and the first thing the drill sergeants did was to assign each squad to a separate job. 

To last a week long. Now my first week of basic training, my squad was assigned … yeah, what can I say, to clean the latrine? 

It wasn’t a fun job, but we did it and the next week we were assigned a different job. 

Whoever followed us, however, did a terrible job of cleaning the latrine and the captain ripped into the drill sergeants, and so the drill sergeants got together and decided since our squad was so good at it, the rest of basic training cleaning the latrine was our assigned job.

So in my eight weeks of Basic I spent seven weeks cleaning our latrine. 

Another interesting thing and it’s hard maybe to understand those if you didn’t go back to it. 

This was a time in our country when antiwar demonstrations were occurring everywhere. 

If bad things happened in the military, those incidents usually made the Evening News. Shortly before I came into the Army, some Marine crews had died, actually, in their training in Boot Camp, which was their name for what we would call Basic. 

Well, the government decided because of the terrible news that they were going to make some changes on how recruits were trained. And the army they made some that well, our drill sergeants were not real pleased with. 

They were supposed to treat us more humanely. 

First, our drill sergeants were not allowed to call us bad names because that would make us feel bad. 

OK, it’s difficult to explain how much this really bothered the drill sergeants. 

They had been calling people bad names. 

They probably faced it in their training and they had some pretty good bad names that they applied to the recruits, but it was no longer allowed. 

From here on out, however stupid our actions were, they were required to call us recruits. 

They were also not allowed to humiliate us in front of other recruits. 

And humiliation had been a big part, I think of their training methodology and we could see how much it was bothering them. 

In fact, I remember one time when we were taking a break, we asked the drill sergeants what kinds of things they used to do, when it was allowed. 

One of our drill sergeants had a couple of our recruits come out and try to climb a tree. 

You’d think, well, that’s not any big deal. 

Well, it is if you’re climbing a tree upside down. It makes you look kind of foolish, and it’s really hard to do. 

Well they had also been given another thing to help make our lives easier. 

We had to receive eight hours of sleep each night. 

Now I can remember a couple of times when the drill Sergeant had us going to bed in the late afternoon and we couldn’t believe it. 

We were wondering why until it dawned on us. 

The rule that we would be getting up at 3:00 in the morning to do some activity, and while it may have made us feel soft and cuddly, and the drill sergeants loved us, even as I was going through these training situations, I didn’t appreciate it because I knew if we were in a battlefield situation they were not gonna ask us, “Did you get your eight hour sleep? Well, we’ll just wait before we start our attack.”

Well, the drill sergeants had some other difficulties too. 

Our drill sergeants and I don’t know their background, but they tried to teach us the manual arms with our M16. 

But they had no idea how to do it with an M16. They had learned on an M14. 

And they just struggled and struggled. 

And finally I think they gave up, you know, they gave us a few things to do, but pretty much gave up.

And we were doing all these things, going to classes, doing studying all kinds of stuff. 


But I remember one day our drill Sergeant told us we were going to learn to police and now this actually sounded good to me.

I thought finally we get to learn some soldier stuff. 

Well our drill Sergeant got us together, marched us over to the parking lot of the PX and arranged us in a long single file line. And then he had each of us bend slightly at the waist and look towards the ground. 

And then he had us walk slowly, step by step across the parking lot. 

Our job was to pick up every piece of trash on the ground. 

This was called policing an area. 

So much for real soldier stuff and I have to admit, even now I’m bothered when I see people throwing trash on the ground. 

It’s like they shouldn’t be doing that. 

Someone has to pick it up. 

Lots and Lots of Shots

Now as a soldier you could be assigned anywhere in the world, and one of the things I remember about Basic training is that we got shots, lots and lots of shots. 

I assume they were trying to inoculate us to anything that could happen anywhere in the world. 

Usually we just marched up to the place where the shots were being given, formed in a line and walked through the building and the medics. 

At least, I assumed they were medics. 

Generally used the gun on us and the gun let them do instead of a single needle shot at a time they might have several shots. They’d push this gun against your arm, pull the trigger and boom, you’d get, I don’t know three, four or five shots at a time.

Well, I remember one time, our drill Sergeant said we were going to receive a shot to protect us from the bubonic plague. 

The bubonic plague. 

Now I’d studied enough history to know that … wasn’t the bubonic plague the Black Death in the Middle Ages that killed about oh, you know, 50 million people — a third of the population of Europe. 

Why was I getting a shot for the bubonic plague? 

Where were they planning to send me? 

The drill Sergeant calmed us down, told us not to worry. Besides, the Army was going to give us the afternoon off so we could do whatever we wanted to and just have a good time. 

Wow, they never did that before. 

Maybe the Army was becoming my buddy after all, so we got to our shots, went back to the barracks and the Drill Sergeant said the rest of the afternoon was ours. 

I think maybe two or three guys went out to play ball, but I’m not sure because I was getting a little woozy and tired and I lay down on my bunk and I didn’t move for several hours. 

Apparently I had a mild case of the Black Death, now just about everyone else in the unit was out cold on their bunks recovering from their shot. 

The Army had done it to us again. 

The afternoon off, yeah, right. 

Hurry Up and Wait

Well, I don’t know. One more thing. 

Have you ever heard the phrase hurry up and wait? 

I really think that phrase may have been invented in the Army. 

It was so common that the drill sergeants would make us rush out to get all of our stuff ready, then rush to some place, and then we would get to that place. 

And then we would wait and wait and wait. 

And we used to make fun of the Army for always doing that to us. 

Well, one day I had been assigned to help out in the headquarters of our company and I was in there one time when I saw a glimpse of how this might happen. 

I was at a desk. 

A phone call came in. 

I answered the phone. 

It was a call from the general. 

Not him personally, but his staff called and said the general was going to come visit tomorrow at 9:00 AM and I was to pass that message along to the captain. 

So I went to the captain and told the captain that the general had called and he was coming to visit at 9:00 AM. 

You could see the panic in his face. 

The general, the head of the whole Fort Polk, Louisiana was going to come and look at us. 

The captain called the executive officer into his office. 

The executive officer was the First Lieutenant, and I heard the captain explain very clearly that he wanted everyone in squad formation at 8:30 AM. There was no way he was going to be late for the general. He ordered the first Lieutenant, 8:30 AM. 

Then the first Lieutenant came out and got to the Master Sergeant, who is kind of the highest enlisted ranking guy who kind of runs the nuts and bolts of the company. Well he told the master Sergeant, to make sure that everyone is in squad formation at 8:00 AM. He wanted to be certain not to get the captain mad at him for being late.

And then I saw them Master Sergeant. He had the drill sergeants come in — the heads of each of our companies — and he explained to them that he wanted everyone dressed and ready to go in squad formation at 7:30 AM.

The Master Sergeant was not about to get the First Lieutenant mad at him. 

Well, I couldn’t believe what I just saw, but it started to make sense. 

And that night I went to bed, woke up the next morning and guess what our drill Sergeant said.

We had to get ready for a special meeting. The general was coming to see us so we all got dressed in whatever uniform you get dressed for when a general comes to see you. And we lined up in squad formation at 7:00 AM. 

Now I hadn’t told anyone, but I knew the general wasn’t coming until 9:00 AM, but there we were. 

The drill sergeants were quite happy. 

They made the master Sergeant happy. 

The master Sergeant was happy because he made the first Lieutenant happy. 

The first Lieutenant was happy because he made the captain happy and the captain was happy because everyone would be ready when the general arrived. 

So we waited and we waited. 

And we waited. 

And we waited. 

And then, oh, I would say maybe an hour or so after we had first got there. 

Someone came out of the company headquarters and they said they had just received a call from the general and he was busy that morning so he wouldn’t be able to make it. 

So we left and that was my little glimpse at the Army’s “hurry up and wait. “

So Speaking of lessons … I had a couple of important lessons from this time period. 

The one related to that story I just shared with you is patience. 

Patience is a good thing. 

You can sit and complain, and argue and moan and whine, but that doesn’t usually speed things along, so patience is a good quality to have. 

As I look back on my time in Basic Training, I think I learned an important lesson during this time period and I am so glad that I did not give in to the group pressure to conform to the ways that others spoke, the topics they wanted to wallow in, the attitudes they wanted to show.

There is a really fascinating verse in the Bible. Psalm 19:14. It says,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart. 
Be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. 
Psalm 19:14

That is a great verse and it tells us what God desires of us, and I would encourage you seek to please God in everything you do. 

Don’t let the group, whether it’s at work or at school or just the people you hang around with. 

Don’t let the group set the standards for your life. 

Choose to do what is right … whether anyone else does it or not. 

Thanks for listening to this episode. 

If you enjoyed it, please sign up to follow the podcast and in the next episode I’ll share what the Army did after they got us looking like soldiers.

They set out to train us to become warriors.

Now before I go, I’d like to share a blessing with you from the Old Testament.

“May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 (The Living Bible)

May I Borrow Your Pee? Please.

Lessons from my days in olive drab.

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Episode 3: May I borrow your pee? Please.

I had an image in my mind of what my first day in the Army would be like.

I imagined a drill instructor screaming at me and my fellow recruits as we got off the bus at some Army base. I’d seen that in the movies, so I was ready for my first day in the Army.

I could handle it.

There was only one problem.

That isn’t quite what happened.


I woke up early at home.

My grandmother fixed breakfast, and my brother came over to drive me to the Induction Center.

I knew it was hard on my grandmother. She had seen boys leave for World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. She had a nephew who went into the peacetime Army. My brother had gone into the Air Force, and now her youngest grandson — me — was going into the Army and probably to Vietnam.

She tried to make me feel good but I knew it had to concerning to her.


Now I could’ve taken the bus to the induction center in downtown LA but my brother came over and drove me.

That might seem like a little thing … giving someone a ride. But it meant a great deal to me.

It let me know that he cared about me and he wanted the best for me.

And I remember watching him drive away after dropping me off in front of the Induction Center and I was so appreciative of having a big brother like him.

But I also realized I was about to begin another stage in my life that would probably prove most interesting.

So, I walked into the building expecting my view of the first day in the Army.

As people arrived and filled up the area where we were supposed to wait, no one was yelling at us.

There were several people in uniform walking around and getting us lined up. They checked our names. And then they sent us into a room full of desks.

Still no one yelled at us.

They walked around with packets, set them in front of us and brought pencils and set them down on the table next to the packets and I remember the soldier in charge said, “Do not touch the pencils and do not touch the packets.”

I wanted to open my packet and fill it out quickly so I could get on to this Army life that I was going to enter. But I resisted the urge and I’m actually quite glad that I did.

Because that’s when the yelling started.


The yelling was not directed at me or us as a group but was focused on individuals in that room.

Those who had somehow violated the fundamental rule and had picked up a pencil or had opened a packet and looked at what was inside.

“I told you not to open that packet,” screamed the soldier in charge.

“Did I give you permission to pick up that pencil?” another soldier screamed at an individual.

This continued for some time and I figured the men running this operation were on some kind of heavy duty power trip.

Then the man in charge told us to open our packets to page 1. It was a simple form — last name, first name, address … that kind of stuff.

And then the screaming started again.

“Did I say page two? I did not say page two. Get that back to page one right now.”

“Did I give you permission to pick up your pencil?” screamed another one.

I had almost picked up my pencil but I quickly withdrew my hand. Several other soldiers began yelling at individuals who had committed the dastardly deed.

Finally all the pencil picker uppers had been identified, corrected, and put in their place. Then our leader told us to look at block one on the form.

It said last name.

“When I tell you to pick up your pencil, you will write your last name in block one,” said the leader.

By now I had a good idea how the system worked, so I didn’t even reach for my pencil. I waited.

“Pick up your pencil and write your name in block one. Your last name in block one,” said the leader.

I wrote my last name and was tempted to fill out the rest of the form, but I knew better.

“Put your pencils down,” barked the leader.

I set my pencil on the table and waited while the soldiers running this event circulated through the room.

I was really thinking if this is what all of the soldiers in the Army were like, I was not going to like this.

“Is that block one?” screamed one of the soldiers.

“No one told you to write your first name!” screamed another.

“Who told you to touch your pencil?” screamed yet another of the soldiers.

The soldiers moved through the room stopping only to yell at anyone who had failed to follow directions … I mean orders.

It took over half an hour to fill out that simple form but as we worked through that process I realized it wasn’t just a power trip for the soldiers running this part of the induction process.

The fact is … several of the inductees were having a difficult time filling out the simple forms.


After the paperwork was completed we were ushered into a room for our physicals. We had needles stuck into us in order to suck out our blood. We had to cough while a someone placed their hands on our private parts.

And then it was time for the urine test. They gave each of us a container and told us to fill it with pee.

I headed into the bathroom and waited for an opening at a urinal so I could give my best shot at filling the container.

My turn came and things went well.

That’s when I heard it.

“May I borrow some of your pee?” a voice came from an inductee who approached me. “Please?”

Either he had difficulty calling up his pee on command or he knew the urine test would reveal chemicals in his body that he did not want the Army to find out about.

Even though I had plenty to share, I passed on the opportunity to share it.

Then they assembled us together in a room and we took the oath.

We were now officially in the Army.

Our first order … get on the bus.


Now those on the bus were, I have to admit, a rather motley crew.

This was in the time of the draft so people from all walks of life ended up in the Army.

There were hippies, anti-war activists, military brats, people who intended to be lifers, people who were given the choice of going to jail or joining the Army, and people like me – nice, normal, everyday people.

What’s that smell?

Now I remember the ride on the bus up to Fort Ord and I have to admit I was a little naive but on that bus ride it was the very first time that I smelled marijuana. I even had to ask the person next to me what the sweet smell was.

He was a little unnerved when he told me. Like I should know this.

Apparently a whole bunch of people had decided to party the night before they went into the Army, figuring it might be their last time.

We had long haired scruffy people. We had people who looked like they were drunk. We had people who looked like they were members of the local motorcycle gang.

And we had skinny, good looking, clean cut, handsome people … you know, like me.

But the Army did something interesting.

When we got off the bus up in Fort Ord, they marched us to a place to give us our new clothes. We picked out pants, and shorts, and underwear, and shirts, and boots. They said be careful picking out the boots or we would regret it the rest of our service.

The clothes we got, well … everyone got the same thing.

We did not pick out the clothes on the basis of how they looked but just did we kind of, sort of, fit in them.

And after we had our clothes, we stuffed them into this bag called a duffle bag. And they made us carry that bag around all over the base until we reached this one building called a barber shop.

I really don’t know why they called it a barbershop. You didn’t go in and select a style. And I guess these people had been trained to be barbers, but based on their skills, their training could not have lasted more than about 30 minutes.

My barber turned on the clippers, put the clippers on my head, and ran the clippers right across the top of my head. It didn’t take him long to finish his job and I now had my first military haircut.

So, the clothes, the haircut, living together for the next two months really changed everything.

People who would never have interacted with one another over time became friends and I really enjoyed the experience.

Now I have to admit I don’t want the government choosing my clothes for me, but those first months of Army life let me see that so many of the divisions that we put up to separate ourselves from others are not all that good.

They keep us from getting to know one another.

After we got our haircuts, we were ready to start our Army experience.

Perhaps now we would get to hear the drill sergeants yelling at us.

But it was not to be.

Instead, we were told Fort Ord was full. There wasn’t any room for us.

Woah. That isn’t quite what I expected.

But I’ll tell you what happened after we were given that news in the next episode.


I have two lessons that I learned during this time.

(1) The first one has to do with hanging around with your own group. We hear a lot today about becoming part of a tribe, hanging around those who believe what we believe, and social media is such an example of that as we tend to only interact with those we agree with.

Well, I tell you what. If you really want to belong to a tribe, why don’t you choose to belong to the human tribe. Don’t let looks, language, different backgrounds, different races, different beliefs keep you from interacting with and seeking to understand other people.

(2) The second lesson I had during this time period was how important little things are. I still look back with great appreciation and even joy on the day my brother came to give me a ride and that little bit of time we had together.

And also I look back to the breakfast my grandmother cooked for me and how she went out of her way to try to make me feel good even when she could have been focused on her feelings. She did a nice job.

Those are my lessons for this period of my adventure in olive drab.

Until the next time, I’m Clint Morey, Specialist 4th Class, retired.

Baby Boomers Wanted

Lessons from my days in olive drab

We were young and strong and there was this Vietnam war thing on the other side of the planet.

Our country needed soldiers, lots and lots of soldiers.

The politicians looked around and there we were — the baby boomers.

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