night of my arrival at NTC, San Diego, is one of those an
enlisted men never forgets. After lining up outside the bus,
assigned numbers and shouted at, we were shuffled into a barracks
for a night of constant interruptions. One group that arrived
included one character looking as though he just walked out
of Haight/Ashbury with the longest red hair I had ever seen
in my life. Amongst all his gear he carried a guitar. Boy,
did the drill instructors get on his case! The poor chap probably
thought this was going to summer camp! Sorry, this is the
United States Navy. The guitar quickly went home.
morning, we were all put into units of about young 100 men
ranging from 18 year old youngsters right out of high school,
like myself, to 20 year old Jr. College graduates. We had
our own barracks and flag (333). I was proud. I made the mistake
of opening my darn mouth and told the guys that my father's
company painted all of these buildings. Very unpopular thing
one run-in though. We worked with old Springfield rifles and
one night while we were doing jumping jacks with the rifles
our DI (Drill Instructor) abruptly stopped us. I was so glad
he did because, along with my compatriots, I was on the verge
out the huge fellow directly behind had stopped on his own.
That's a no, no in the military. You don't stop or start unless
told to do so. What the DI said next was tantamount to a death
sentence for me. He told this fellow "look, why'd you
stop? You don't stop! You got a problem with that? Look, Trottier
here, is half your size but twice the man!"
That did it. This guy wanted to kill me! And he tried that
very evening while we were in the showers. Thank goodness
there were plenty of other men there to pull him off of me.
I got hurt but we didn't dare tell the DI as we'd all get
into trouble. All of the other fellows kept an eye on him
and me after that to make sure he didn't try anything again.
I can guess he was humiliated by the DI's comment, as true
as it was!
delight of my fellow recruits I was soon demoted and the Instructors
put another, older and less 'gung ho' recruit in charge. Although
he was still learning the ways of the military along with
the rest of them, he was very good at managing and directing
people; a mature skill I had yet to develop.