In my life, moving and leaving my hometown was a great adventure. I had no idea what was going to happen but with some exceptions, I enjoyed the traveling. Here are some excepts of me and my family’s traveling days
I remember the first time when I left with my grandparents to pick the crops in Michigan. To me it was an adventure and not so much the labor. It was a cultural experience even though I was too young to know it. I was just 7 years old. The second time I was involved with was the Wesley Community Center. One summer they had a group of evangelist (men and women) from out of state. They planned a trip to Port Aransas and invited us to go with them, with permission from the parents of course. At this time I was aware of the opposite sex and I thoroughly enjoyed the females and the attention they gave us possibly trying to convert us. I enjoyed the beach and the ocean which I had never seen before. However, when night came we stayed on the beach. I didn’t bring a blanket but I did bring a sheet which wasn’t enough. It was cold and I had to snuggle with the group of girls laying on the sand. It was a great trip.
Later, when I was in the rifle team at Lanier High School in ROTC, we were invited to go to Arlington, Texas to compete in a rifle team competition. We also had to take our uniforms because we were also invited to a military ball afterwards. The only problem was that they had their dates and we didn’t. So there we were standing like wallflowers with our uniforms and all our medals. We did drink the punch though.
In 1956 I joined the Army Reserves and in 1957 I was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana for my basic training. Going by bus we experience a blowout making us late. We had spent about six weeks going through all the basic stuff when a hurricane hit Lake Charles nearby and nearly destroying all of our buildings. We were sent back home. Later when I graduated in 1958 I was sent to Ft. Chaffe, Arkansas for my second round of Basic Training. Finishing that, I was sent to Ft. Ord, California for another eight weeks of training. Right after that, I was sent to West Point, New York. This time I went by train because I had to arrive by January 2nd. I spent New Year’s Eve on the train by myself. Everybody had gotten off to celebrate.
I spent two years in West Point as a cadre and later as an office clerk which I hated. In 1960 I reenlisted and asked for a Caribbean assignment. That reassignment led me to the Republic of Panama and finally to a regular Infantry unit.
When I joined the Army I knew that I was going to make several yearly moves and there was no differences in each instance. However, I had to go on a troop ship, leaving from Brooklyn Navy Dock, which I spent about 30 days below deck, two of those days seasick. Our first stop was Puerto Rico where we were able to get out and see the island. The second stop was Guantamano Bay, Cuba where we unloaded some marines and their families. We finally arrived in the Republic of Panama in the city of Colon where we were transported to the Canal Zone. I was assigned to the 10th Infantry Battalion in Ft. Davis
When Anita and I got married I was at Ft. Davis in the Atlantic side. Due to a reorganization I was transferred to Ft. Clayton in the Pacific side of Panama. We had to make arrangements for her to get to Panama. She had the shock of her life when she had to turn back because of engine problems and later when she arrived in Panama and seeing all the Panamanian soldiers with machine guns. Now we had to worry about housing and furniture. We had to live outside the post because we didn’t qualify for housing. We found a one room apartment close to the ocean. She did, however, have a round trip ticket just in case the move was not successful.
After spending three years at Ft. Clayton we left Panama on an airplane and I was assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington. The Army shipped our meager furniture in a box. We lived off post for about three months before we had government quarters. We bought new furniture in Tacoma, Washington. That was November 22, 1963.
When Anita gave birth to our son, Martin in November 1964, we left for San Antonio to show of our new son. When we returned I found out that I was being reassigned overseas to Korea. Moving from Ft. Lewis was a hassle. After crating the big stuff and boxing all of our small stuff all of our stuff was placed in storage and we had to clean our apartment which had to meet a rigid inspection. Afterwards we left Ft. Lewis to go to San Antonio where I left Anita and martin to live with her parents. AS soon as I left them, I had to travel back to Oakland for transportation to Korea.
I spent another 30 days on another troop ship on my way to South Korea. We stopped in Honolulu, Hawaii where my first thing I did was to go to Wakiki Beach which I didn’t enjoy due to the sand being so hot. After arriving in Inchon on July 1965, I was sent to Camp Kaiser with the 10th Armored Cavalry which was close to the DMZ. Every other month I spent time on the DMZ until I reenlisted and asked to go to Germany after my tour was up in 1966. The problem was that I had my stuff in Ft. Lewis and my family in San Antonio. I made arrangement for part of our stuff to be shipped to Germany and arranged for our host in Germany to get us an apartment
On my way to Germany, I picked up Anita and Martin and set off to New York City on a bus to grab a plane to Germany. Arriving in New York, we had a family member take us to McGuire AFB for our plane. When we arrived in Germany, 12 hours later, our host met us and took us to Vogelwegh Housing near Kapaun Barracks where I was assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry. Part of our furniture and other stuff was shipped and it arrived a few days later with missing items.
We were there not only two years when we were told that a group of us were being ordered to become a task force for a move to Ft. Lewis, Washington on March 1968. So here we go again to Ft. Lewis. We went through shipping our stuff and cleaning our quarters and waiting for inspection before we can leave.
This time we had quarters waiting for us. Again I had to arrange to get our stuff out of storage which was still in Tacoma, Washington which arrived a few days later. After the Main Body arrived I requested to attend Drill Sergeant School in 1968. I became a Drill Sergeant the day before my daughter, Marie was born. In 1970 After I got my 5th stripe (E-7) as a platoon sergeant, I was ordered to Vietnam. We had spent two years at Ft. Lewis. WE went through the same thing as before, cleaning our quarters and put everything in storage.
Before I left for Vietnam in 1970, Anita and I had bought a house in San Antonio where she stayed during my duration. This time all of our furniture and stuff was shipped to San Antonio. I had left to go to Ft. Riley Kansas for training and later to Travis AFB for transportation to Vietnam. I was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division. Later to 101st Airmobile Division and later to Camrahn Bay with the 51st Infantry.
I stayed in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 where I reenlisted and asked to be reassign to Ft. Bliss, Texas, which was as close to home as I wanted to be. First, I had to go home and make arrangements for our family move to El Paso. I was assigned to the Public Affairs office which changed my job specialty to full time Journalist. After a year I went on temporary duty to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin leaving the family in Ft. Bliss.
I returned to Ft. Bliss and rejoined the newspaper staff in late August where I stayed another six months before I was reassigned back to Germany. This time Anita was expecting and couldn’t travel. So, here again we had to store some of our household goods and shipped the rest to San Antonio.
I arrived in Bad Kreuznach, Germany in 1973 and stayed at the Rose Barracks, an old German Kaserene. During my stay as a G-5 NCOIC at 8th Infantry Division Headquarters, my son John was born, my brother in law and my grandfather passed away. Fortunately I was able to get quarters almost a year after I arrived there. This time we didn’t have to ship too many items except our washer and dryer. In 1976, after living comfortably in our quarters, we received word that Anita’s father passed away and we had to return home. Unfortunately I had to leave my family in San Antonio and returned to Germany to finish up my tour.
Six months later, in 1976, I was assigned to F. McNair, Washington D.C. This post was in the historic district. I stayed there for about a month and transferred Cameron Station, Virginia where I was assigned as a custom inspector. After a year there I was able to get quarters for my family at Ft. Myers, Virginia. I went back home, pack our stuff and shipped our furniture and drove my family in a station wagon and arrived on August 17, 1977, the day Elvis Presley died. Our household goods arrived the next day.
We spent a wonderful year in Washington D.C. exploring everything that D.C. had to offer and later, we were given the opportunity to retire at Ft. Myers but it was decided that we wanted to go back home. So on July 1978 we packed our bags, got our quarters clean, shipped all of our household goods for the last time and left Ft. Myers. This was our final move. We hoped! I was able to retire at Ft. Sam Houston with all my family present.
(If you want to find more details about our adventure, read my book “This Too Shall Pass”. It’s in my blog as a link at genescorner.com