COBRA Company ’65/’66
OK, time to jump in here and tell you guys my story about joining the Airborne. Noonan and Salazar have been after me to do this for a while.
I was drafted in April 1965 and sent to Ft. Polk because Ft. Ord, in California, had an epidemic of meningitis. The first day back there, an Airborne recruiter talked to all of us in a big auditorium that seemed like it held a thousand guys. Probably only a few hundred but nevertheless a lot of guys. I was seated somewhere in the middle of the bleachers. He told us how great the Airborne was with instant rank, no one messing with ya, able to kick the shit out of five people at the same time, (that’s the one that had me sold) and he was there to start up an Airborne basic training company but he was only going to take the first dozen or so guys who lined up on the stage. Well, I was going to be one of them and I started planning my route up there. When he said go, I went. Jumping over guys, hitting that stage in nothing flat. Problem was there were only maybe six of us up there and right then and there I thought maybe I had made a mistake.
After three or four days of straight KP while he was recruiting other new guys, trying to form this Airborne training company, he finally settled for an Airborne training platoon. Pure hell, as when the others in the company were walking or riding in trucks we were running yelling “I want to be an Airborne Ranger” everywhere we went. All our training was with an M-14.
Next came Ft. Gordon, where Pat Noonan, Rick Salazar, myself along with others from California got there a day early and the first thing we saw was a sign the said “Chargin’ Charlie Airborne” and were met with a PT test on Sunday. This time it was an Airborne training company with all jump qualified cadre.
The first day we had a chance to tell the XO of any problems we had so a close friend and myself decided we would simply tell him we were through with all this Airborne shit and wanted out. After all the recruiter has said we could get out anytime we wanted. I went first and told him my problem was I didn’t think I could jump out of an airplane. He jumped up, grabbed hold of me and threw me out the door, hard. I hit the dirt with him yelling at me, I had no problem!
Eight more weeks of intense Airborne training at Ft. Gordon running up and down the hills yelling “I want to be an Airborne ranger” again. When we hit jump school it was actually a breeze thanks to all the preparation in basic and AIT.
When I look back on it now, I thank God for all the training because the Army knew where we were going.
Cobra Co. 1/327
1965 – 1966