The morning bugle brought me out of the bunk with a start. The temperature was over 80 degrees, not the usual -20. A transition from hell to heaven. Uniform of the day was skivy shirts. Fall out for calesthenics.
But, where was the aviation school? We drew KP for two weeks while they closed Jacksonville and basked in the sun, played baseball and all the things the poor guys in the trenches envied. Then one morning the expected loud speaker announcement. "Pack your seabags and get ready to ship out."
"Hey Chief, where are we headed?"
"Memphis Tennessee sailor. If they ever give the world an enema, that is where they'll make the intrusion."
The train to the Naval Aviation School in Millington took two days. The first twenty-four hours we did not eat. Seems they had trouble getting a diner car hooked to us. These guys were getting desperate. Some even chanced a run to town for some food while we were on a siding.
When the diner finally did come we had to eat three meals, one right after the other, because Navy regulations called for three square meals a day.
Memphis wasn't bad duty. It was just a way of preparing for the worst. But, for a year of school, I waded through some of the worst chicken shit the Navy ever devised.
There was a standing rule that we must buy a raincoat from ships stores. This was not a Navy issue. It cost 12 bucks of our sixty a month hard earned cash. We were only there a week when I received a phone call from the main gate that my wife had arrived from New York and was waiting at the gate. Luckily I did have liberty that night. It was raining solid water and I ran all the way wearing my peacoat. On duty at the personnel gate was a ninety day wonder Ensign. I saluted the flag and asked the Ensign for permission to go ashore.
"Where is your raincoat", he demanded?
"We just arrived and haven't been paid yet, sir",
"That's no excuse", he said, "you can't go out like that. Your all wet".
"But, my wife is right across the street, sir. She just arrived from New York."
"I wouldn't care if it was Christ Almighty", returned he in the most derogatory manner.
That presence on my right shoulder held my arms as a Lieutenant at the automobile gate said, "let him go."
"But, he's all wet."
"What the hell do you care. Its not your skin."
"All right", he said reluctantly, "go ahead."
I turned and saluted the Lieutenant, ignoring the God Damn Ensign.
My first introduction to Chicken Shit!
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