IMG_7701Here’s the advice my grandpa gave my uncle the summer of 1967.

Dear Phil,

Since we had little time to talk before you embarked for your stint in the army, you missed out on some good advice on how to get along in the army without half trying. Here are a few gems from which you can profit.

l. Most soldiers are assigned to KP duty sometime during their khaki career. This isn’t at all necessary. Should some sergeant suggest that you might like to wash a few pans, just ask to be excused. Explain that you never were one to enjoy working around the kitchen and that you see no reason why you should start at your time of life. If he coaxes, be firm. Be polite, but firm. When he realizes you mean business, he’ll go find someone less determined than yourself.

2. The army has the unhappy habit of being noisy early in the morning. Some showoff will come walking through the barracks yelling, “On your feet” or, if he is the real eager type, Up and at em, youse guys. What do you want to do, sleep all day? Don’t stand for it. Just tell this early morning moron that if he doesn’t exercise a little more self control, you will report him to the C.O. A simple warning of this type is usually sufficient to make the most ardent troublemaker (the early morning variety) think twice before he bothers you before you are ready to roll out.

3. One of the silliest things the army does is insist on soldiers walking everywhere they go. Occasionally some super maniac will suggest getting there in double time. A crowning insult is when they load the soldiers down with packs before they march them. Don’t be taken in on this little gimmick. The army has plenty of trucks for hauling purposes and also gobs of autos for comfortable riding. Ask to be driven to where you are to go, and don’t be selfish, invite some of your friends to ride with you. Once the sergeants see that you mean business about this hiking bit, they will treat you with respect and not try to impose on you.

4. Occasionally someone gets all fouled up on what he is doing and a line forms. When this happens ask for a folding chair. When you get it, have whoever brings it to you set it up for you in the shade. No use getting all hot and sweaty because some knucklehead who should have known better got you where he wanted you before you were really due.

5. The army doesn’t produce the best cooks in the world. infrequently your steak will be served too well done. Send it back-and keep sending it back-until you get it the way you want it. If you do this right off the bat, the cooks will soon get to know just how you want your food prepared and be careful to cook it to suit you. Above all, don’t pauper the domestic help. It is their job to keep you well fed and insist that they do it in a savory way. If the mess hall (what a horrid name) isn’t equipped with tablecloths, request then.

6. Because we have a draft, many service type people are inducted into the army. In every group you will find at least one bootblack, a tailor, someone trained to make up beds, a janitor or two, a window cleaner, polishers, scrubbers, etc. Take advantage of their comradeship. When your shoes need polishing, get the bootblack to give them a shine. The tailor will be glad to hang up your clothes each night, and the butler type will make up your bed if you are polite when you ask him. I tell you this because there is no sense in your doing something someone else has spent his life learning to do. They will appreciate the opportunity to keep in practice and appreciate your thoughtfulness. Once in a while some surly servant type who is too big for his britches” will rebuff you with some snide remark like, Are youse kidding? Do it yourself, wise guy, when this happens, you have no recourse but to report him. Don’t feel badly about doing it either. It is for his own good.

7. If you run out of money, want a five day pass, would like a transfer, need a date, can’t locate your dog tags, need someone to tell your troubles to, don’t think you are being treated with the respect you feel you deserve, or are just plain lonely, – send for the chaplain. He’ll come a runnin. Be sure to thank him when he accomplishes what you ask him to do. You might commend him to the C.O. if he does a real efficient job. This way he will really be your friend and come even faster the next time he is needed.

Not all fathers take time nor have the knowledge to get their sons started out in the army in the right fashion. You might want to share this advice with some of your newfound friends. As a matter of fact, you would be smart to do just that. After all, you don’t want to be in the guardhouse all by yourself.

Be a good soldier,