Grab Some Boot Polish and Stand in the Door!

Read on for an exciting preview of A Dusty Boot Soldier Remembers, published by Hellgate Press.

“In February, 1980 the 1/505 Infantry deployed a 1200 man Task Force to Fort Wainwright, Alaska for winter weather training. There was also a second battalion, from the 9th Infantry Division, in nearby barracks going through initial orientation training along with us. The fifth night there the Sergeant Major woke me around 0300 and told me, “Sir, we had a little problem down at the NCO Club last night. But it is all taken care of. Everybody is happy, especially the Club Officer.” As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes I had the good sense to ask what ‘a little trouble’ amounted to. His response knocked me for a loop. “Sir, it was our guys against the legs from Fort Lewis. We won and the Club Officer has $15,000 for repairs. He will be getting a lot of new furniture.” I thanked Jimmy for the update, rolled over and slept soundly.

Training in Alaska, 1980 - who knew

30 below could be so much fun.

The next morning as I sat at my desk doing some administrative paperwork my door again flew open without so much as a gentle knock and in strode the LTC battalion commander from the 9th Division. He was quite nattily attired with a camouflage cravat, well pressed heavy winter shirt and pants, a swagger stick and gloves. He did not give me his name but immediately launched into, “Well colonel, I have given Article 15s to all my brawlers, what are you doing to your troops?” I looked him over once more, leaned back in my chair and said, “Colonel, I don’t know what the US Government pays the 9th Infantry to do but they pay the 82nd Airborne to fight. I am not doing anything to my men. Now get out of my office.” I have no idea what prompted me to say what I did about the 82nd and fighting. It just came out of my mouth on the spur of the moment. He was taken aback by my response and turned and left. I never saw him again for the remainder of our time in Alaska.”

"Our drop zone was near Saluda, South Carolina and we jumped from C-123s.  I am not sure if the birds were from the Regular Air Force or from the National Guard, but I think they were from the Guard.  Being a new jumpmaster I had to show off my talents for the troops.  Our platoon was split between two aircraft.  I was jumpmaster on one aircraft and Sergeant Trent the other.  Our company had its own drop zone a few miles from Saluda.  We departed Campbell Army Air Field with a set flying time, an hour and a half, to the drop zone.  The weather was perfect.  We were flying in two sets of Vs, three ships per V, with the whole company in  six airplanes.
Two hours later, as I hung out the door of the airplane straining to see our drop zone, and looking at Staff Sergeant Trent in the aircraft across from me, we both shook our heads and by our looks were saying, "These guys are lost."  We had been given our ten minute warning about thirty minutes earlier, gone through all jump commands and had been standing by for over twenty minutes.  There was no drop zone visible to our front.  Suddenly the plane did a very hard left turn almost throwing me across the plane and out the opposite door.  When the airplane righted itself and leveled off I looked down and saw jumpers in the air below me and suddenly the red light turned green, I yelled, "Go," and jumped.  It was an automatic reflex after jump school.  I landed in a scrub pine woods just off the intended drop zone; so much for Air Force pilot accuracy in those days."