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Bertrand Raymond Trottier, Jr.
Bugler USN         Part III

Going Into The U.S. Navy
A year after graduating Inglewood High School in 1966, I signed up for the Delayed Entry Program as I was still too young. This was after a short stint at Chapman College (now University) in the City of Orange. I just felt totally out of place there. I was in the Heidelberg program where I would also study music in Germany. So in the early summer of 1967 I went to boot camp.

The '67 VW won 49 logged street races.  The engine was completely rebuilt with the help of Bill Sakai, lots of new parts and a 3/4 Isky cam.

The 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.

Next 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 to do.

I had 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 of death!

Turns 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!"

Oh, God! 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!

To the 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.

My VW could do the 1/4 mile in about 11 seconds. considered good time then.  That was before my dad sold it while I was in  boot camp.
My good friend, Bill Sakai and I used to
race my VW dragster at Lions Drag Strip
in Alameda, California

Letters from my high school band director, Mr. Gills, and my trumpet teacher, Mr. Valenti, was all I needed to open the doors for an audition for the Navy School of Music while I was in boot camp. I was prepared as I even brought my custom mouth piece. It's interesting to note that many of my fellow recruits had never seen a palm tree before. They were so amazed!

Bert on 1st leave. After this all my uniforms were custom made in San Diego. Say "Hi" to Popeye, now!

While I waited for my School of Music audition, I signed up for an audition for the U.S. Navy Recruit Command Drum and Bugle Corps.

Soon after completing some 10 weeks of basic training I was transferred into the "Corps." I was surprised at the reaction of my unit as I was leaving for the Corps. They wished me well and were very supportive. I made many more friends than I had realized. Even though I "scared the hell out of 'em" as RCPO.

Home on leave in Inglewood, California from "Boot Camp" late 1967

First leave with Moshe Doman on the right. Why does he keep calling me "Popeye"?

First leave poser.

First leave, still posing.

First leave, posing with lifelong friend Moshe Doman.

From Drum & Bugle Corps to the
United States School Of Music

The "Corps Rules!" Talk about a corps d'sprit!! This organization had more spirit than any I had ever known. The work was hard; marching, formations, learning to playing a piston bulgle and of course memorizing the music. The DI's knew nothing of music and seem bent on torturing us "flute tooters." They were very hard on us, making us play until our lips bleed. But it didn't bother me as much as some of my fellow recruits who took it pretty hard.

One night we were awaken by our fellow "Corps" members to participate in an old Navy ritual. This was both exciting and terrifying at the same time, not knowing what to expect under these boot camp conditions.

I was the smallest guy in "The Corps" where I was proclaimed "Mr. Peanut" in the best of Navy traditions as my predecessor was graduating in days. Other members of the "Corps" were allocated other important titles.

I continued playing piston bugle in parades all over Southern California for the next two months. That's when I graduated into the Real Navy.

The Drum & Bugle Corps Rules!
As you can tell, my mother took this picture. She was only 5'-2" tall
and was an expert at 'decapitating' people. We were lucky to save
our hats! I'm the little 'short shit' on the left end next to John Seavers.
Continue To Pictures From The USN School Of Music

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