Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fort Sam Houston

(click here to read previous story: The Move to San Antonio)

Dinon was drafted into the army in August of 1953, just two months after graduating from college.  His first stop for basic training was in Fort Riley, Kansas, followed by a few months in Camp Pickett, Virginia, before it closed in June of 1954.  Between Camp Pickett and Dinon's release from service in May of 1955, Dinon spent his time - "over a year" - at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

"When I got down to San Antonio, I was assigned to a training battalion headquarters as a clerk typist." Dinon said.  "I did not, of course, go to a typing school, but they assigned that to me.  I had to run the message center at battalion headquarters."

According to Dinon, it was an easy job, consisting of four plain eighteen-inch square boxes.

"One was Company A, B, C and D, and my job was to take the mail, and if it said ‘Company A’, I put it in the ‘Company A’ box.  I mean, it was ‘really tough’, ha," he said, chuckling.

In addition to sorting, he was also the driver for the colonel.

"He was a light colonel, so he was a lieutenant colonel, he wasn't a full bird colonel (full bird colonel has eagles as a symbol – he only had a silver star, a full colonel’s is brass)," Dinon explained.   "So I had to pick up the jeep every morning, drive it over there, and then when the colonel wanted to go watch his troops being trained, why, I drove him to wherever they were training.  And if he noticed some training on the other side of the valley, there was no road, you just went straight there, which means you’re going cross-country in the jeep with the colonel next to you.  Then he’d get out and inspect the troops and all and see what they’re doing, and then I’d bring him back, and then at the end of the day I had to wash the jeep and leave it at the motor pool where all the trucks and jeeps were kept."

Example of a 2-1/2 ton cargo truck
Another part of his driving responsibilities was learning how to operate a two-and-a-half ton truck, AKA, 'a deuce-and-a-half'.

"It was one of these great big things with the canvas over the back, monster things," he said.  "I remember at the very end [of the driving test], driving that thing out in the field, and here’s this steep hill.  So I come up to the hill, and I brum! revved it up, and all I could see was sky!  The thing was almost vertical – I couldn't see the road!  I’m looking out the windshield, and the windshield is pointing up!  But I passed, and he gave me the driver’s license for it ... I don’t think I ever had to drive one after the test, but I was certified.  They do that, they train you in a number of things in case you need it."

Dinon never went overseas or saw military action.  Even though he had been drafted for 24 months, he was released in May of 1955.  "I only served about 21 months because Congress would not appropriate enough money to keep the army as big as the military wanted," Dinon said.

Dinon left the military and did not return.  On August 26, just three months later, he and Liz were married.  And, in that same year, Dinon used the benefits of his G.I. Bill of Rights to re-enroll at the University of Wisconsin to pursue a master's degree in business.

(Next story: New Wife, New Life)

A Pair of
Dorms, Food
and Studies

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