As I did with my Dad's military records, I requested my own records from the National Military Records Center, St. Louis, MO. (Request your records here.) Four pages of Enlisted Records, and 6 pages of health & dental records arrived. This is a summary of that information embellished with what remembrances I felt worthwhile repeating.
Though I don't know why you'd want to, I can be reached for any comments at <email@example.com>.
The 4 pages of documents of My military personnel file are below.
John Schneider, July 12, 2009
On August 5, 1971 the United States Selective Service Commission held a lottery to draft young men into the United States Army resulting in what would be the last draft call, occurring December 7, 1972. When I came home from work from the Detroit Edison Company the afternoon of that fateful August day my mother tearfully told me my number. Twelve! Starting with number 1, eligible young men would be sent a letter ordering them to report to an appropriate location to be inducted into the Army. Letters would continue to be mailed until the draft quota had been reached (or up to number 125), but with a number as low as twelve I knew it was merely a matter of time until I received my notice. Indeed, I didn't have to wait long. Receiving the induction letter mid-December I was ordered to report April 24, 1972, almost 2 years after graduating high school.
Early Monday morning on April 24, my folks drove me downtown Detroit to the induction center where they dropped me off and I became a possession of the U.S. Army. I underwent a physical, was recorded as 5' 9" height, 145 lbs, and completed a variety of testing. And in spite of the conventional wisdom of the inductees I heard that one would be better off by doing poorly so one wouldn't get messed around with by the Army, I tried my best on all tests. This would pay off later by my avoiding infantry school, a certain destination for most trainees as the Vietnam War was still raging.
I also noticed that some guys were playing a rousing game of cards, the game of Euchre, which I had never heard before. I would soon learn the game and to love it, playing every duty station I was at. Upon return to civilian life I found my old gang has discovered it and many a weekend evening was devoted to playing the game.
Probably late that afternoon a lot of us boarded a bus and travelled the 395 mile, seven and a half hour trip due south to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, to begin Basic Training. I was surprised to find myself in the company of someone I knew, Steven Sheridan, a classmater from St. Norbert's High School.
4th Platoon, Company C, 17th Bn, 5th Tng Bde, US Army Armor Center. The bus taking our large group of young men arrived late at night at Ft. Knox. We exited the bus and entered a mess hall that seemed to have been opened in haste to accommodate the 40 or so hungry draftees. The menu consisted of little else but hot dogs and a drink. It was a cool Spring night, the heavy scent of pine trees perfumed the air, and we knew we has entered a whole new world. They found an empty barracks for us to bunk for the night. In the morning started the induction process including the infamous haircut. While I wasn't asked if I wanted to keep my sideburns (then cutting them off and handing them to me), I did lose every last bit of shaggy long hair my head could grow. We were given a uniform, field jacket, rain coat ("let's see, you look like you're a size small"), shoes, boots, gloves, cap, underwear, dress green uniforms, so much gear we could hardly carry it all. We got our pictures taken, our IDs were printed, our fingerprints taken, our bodies vaccinated, our teeth checked, our eyes examined, all to insure the Army was getting the best of America's youth.
Training commenced May 22, 1972 and completed July 6, 1972. The 4th platoon was lead by SFC John D. Long, assisted by SGT Roger Hayse.
Eight weeks of Basic Training would put me in the best physical shape of my life. The beginning of Spring in Kentucky saw frosty cold mornings, warming up to quite comfortable temperatures. Training consisted in classes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Army Training Program 21-114 [ATP 21-114, (Apr 1970) covers the training program for male military personnel without prior service] 1, the Geneva Convention, Code of Conduct, "CBR (chemical, biological, and radiological); we endured a great deal of physical training. The most fun part to me being long hikes through the back country of a beautiful portion of hilly Kentucky. One uncomfortable training involved chemical warfare training. Our unit was lined up outside of a small cinder block building as we donned gas masks. A handful of troops would be sent inside to stand along the 4 walls and then, upon orders, remove their gas mask and experience first hand what must have been a room full of tear gas. After a brief few moments we were ushered out gasping and in pain, though we all survived.
My favorite part of the training occurred close to graduation, where we were dropped off in the vast wilderness of Ft. Knox, and left on our own to travel a few miles through the woods to a pick up point. In the early evening, just a half hour or so before sunset, a number of companies riding in the beds of a number of trucks were unloaded and left to ourselves. We knew that we would be greeted by "the enemy," other soldiers playing the role to try to capture as many of us as possible to keep in confinement for the duration of the exercise, and no doubt causing a failure for that training exercise.
Almost as quickly as all of us dropped off the bed of the trucks we came "under fire." I dove for the tall weeds in a deep culvert on the other side of the road and became as flat and hidden as I could. Darkness slowly crept upon us and I could hear the "enemy" walking around looking for those they could capture. After laying motionless for what must have been 45 minutes, I slowly rose from my position when I could no longer hear activity.
By this time twilight was ending and I hurried into the woods heading in the direction I understood to be the gathering point and a successful mission. I met no one on the way, travelling alone in the dark with nothing to light my way but for an occasional fullmoon peaking through thick clouds. At one point I did hear some individuals and stopped, picked up a rock from the ground and hurled it to my right. I detected that when they heard the noise of its landing they must have scurried away, leaving a more clear path for me. After what seemed like a hour of walking I came upon a road lined with trucks, and NCOs and officers directing those appearing from the woods to an appropriate truck to be taken back to our units. Sitting in the back of the transport vehicle I felt a bit of pride to have made it out successfully.
My family, or most of them, came down for my graduation from Basic Training the last week in May, 1972 [see Dad's letter, #30, and Mom's letter, #32, concerning their visit]. Mom, Dad, the twins, Mike and Greg, Mark and Marylou drove down for the ceremonies, and returned home visiting Mammoth Cave on the way.
On graduating from Basic Training I received my only 2 medals of my 2 year Army career, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Sharpshooter Medal for Rifle, M-16, for a score received of 69, on 16, June, 1972.
I made some good friends while at Basic Training. Robert Austin from Metamora (north of Detroit), who I sat next to on the bus ride from Detroit to Ft. Knox, and I became companions, and was one who came to Ft. Bliss with me. Stephen Sheridan was a high school (St. Norbert's) classmate who was inducted at the same time.
To give some small sense of what I was up to after graduating Basic Training, I'll publish a letter home that I started during an idle moment:
Dear Mom, Dad & Gang:
I'm in the supply room waiting to go to the hospital for my fix [allergy injections] at 1:00. Two of us just finished sweeping this room. Big deal! I just hope they don't have any work for us to do.
I'm writing this on my note pad. I'll rewrite it on paper tonight. Our D.I. told us "don't be surprised if we don't win the plaque this week" [for most orderly barracks]. The Captain might give it to one of the other 3 platoons, for morale purposes, 'cause we're the only platoon who's won it. No doubt we'll win for this week but we may not get the plaque. Honestly I kind of expected them to do that when we won the second time. That sounds like the Army. If we win it this week we'll break the record. Four weeks is the longest any one platoon has even held it. You know, it makes me a little proud when someone asks us what platoon we're in and we say "the forth." [sic]
I hope I'm coming home this weekend. . . . [more letter]
3rd Enlisted Student Battery, US Army Air Defense School, Ft Bliss, TX 79906, for training in MOS 24U20. [MOS = Military Occupational Specialty] Orders for my Advanced Individual Training showed that I was switched from going to Field Artillery School, Ft. Sill, OK, instead they asked me if I would accede to go to Ft. Bliss, Texas, for training as a Nike Hercules Electronics Mechanic, to which I agreed without hesitation.
My flight arrived at the El Paso airport late at night, and I was taken to a temporary unit for the night. In the morning walked into the 3rd ESB where I would reside for the next 8 months. It was a 3 story brick barracks which included it's own mess hall; a step up from the 2 story wooden barrack of Ft. Knox. Here I would reside for the next 8 months.
I had not travelled very far from home before so I was enthralled to wake up the morning after my arrival to a view of the large, brown Franklin Mountains that stretched far north out of El Paso. The weather was always warm, the sun shone almost every day of the year. There was a lot to explore in the surrounding area, and I enjoyed trips to the White Sands Missile Range, to Albuquerque and Cloudcroft, New Mexico. On New Year's day a friend and I drove north into New Mexico through the hot desolate desert, and then east up into the mountains toward Cloudcroft, where in the distance we saw a cloud that became a thick snow storm. After enjoying a short romp in the snow we returned to the 98 degrees of the desert floor and back to camp.
El Paso had its share of rock n' Roll bands passing through, some of the most memorable of my experience. The best of which was Stephen Stills and Manassas, but also included Stevie Winwood and Traffic, Alice Cooper, and ZZ Top, and finally, Bread.
Sharing the Rio Grande River to the south was Juarez, Mexico, where I would take leave of my senses and derail my brief military career. But until that fateful September night, I took advantage of inexpensive shopping, buying pointy-toed cowboy boots, an onyx chess set, a fringed brown leather jacket, and that's just the legal stuff.
Foolish decisions made by me while successfully engaged in the electronics training, getting A's in class, would result in violating my security clearance and being removed from school. It was unwise in the extreme, on that September 14 night, to wear sunglasses as I walked back across the border into the US, with 3 joints in my possession. I was immediately detained and remanded to the custody of my Company, where I received my second Article 15. I awaited new orders and kept time by working in the 3rd ESB orderly room.
Among the more stupid decisions was keeping company with a few less than reputable characters. Two of them with whom I was arrested by El Paso police, and court-martialed for possession of marihuana. Facing almost certain jail time in Ft. Leavenworth, by the grace of God I was acquitted of the charges. My Mother came from Detroit to El Paso for the 1 day trial. My defense attorney, Captain Cook, successfully argued a motion to suppress the evidence. See this chapter for more details and the transcript of the trial. I was allowed to return home with Mom for a short leave, while awaiting new orders to my next duty station. These finally came in March, 1973.
I continued working in the orderly room as a clerk while awaiting orders. I answered the phone, filed papers, made cigar runs for the First Sergeant (he chewed rather than smoked), and any other clerk-type duties that might arise. My First Sergeant was a hoot to work with. He had a loud bark but was very easy to get a long with. It was kind of fun working in the orderly room. It had its occasional perk, too. When one of the classes graduated and received orders for their next duty station one of the guys approached me for a favor. It was a Friday afternoon and his orders required him to proceed Monday to his next assignment. This meant he'd waste the entire weekend at Ft. Bliss instead of enjoying being home and laying on the beach in San Diego. I told him that if he took me home with him, I'd sign him out early, to which he agreed immediately. So we hopped in his car and made the long night journey to his home in El Cajon, California.
Company P (Stu Enl) 2nd Bn USA, QM Sch Bde. I graduated May 8, 1973 from a 6 week course in the Quartermaster School, a Subsistence Storage Specialist, MOS 76K20. This was an unremarkable school, dealing in warehousing. But Ft. Lee was located within walking distance of Petersburg, Virginia, and also the Petersburg National Battlefield Park. Some of us would often walk around the battlefield woods, whose floor was soft enough for bare feet with a blanket of pine needles. I almost stepped on a copperhead barefoot, after leaving my barracks with friends, crossing the perimeter road and following a path into the battlefield. The poisonous snake was sunning himself in the middle of the path as I led the small group of us into the woods. I happened to look down and saw the beast about 4 feet in front of me. It could have been fatal if I hadn't looked down at that moment! I prodded it with a stick to move it off the path and it obliged.
Hopewell is a small community a couple miles up the road from Ft. Lee, nestled along the banks of the James River. A nice stroll occasionally afforded me relaxation in that area.
HQ Co., USAG (United States Army Garrison), Camp A.P. Hill, VA. Immediately upon graduating from Quartermaster School and awaiting orders to a Permanent Duty Station, a small number of us were assigned TDY to Camp A.P. Hill about an hour north of Richmond for the summer, for Annual Training (AT) Site Support. Orders were cut May 9, and we reported May 10. We worked in a small rations warehouse helping load and unload deliveries. This was easy, no pressure work. We had plenty of time for ourselves and were able to get around all over the extensive area of the Camp. My brother Bill visited me while I was there. I was able to make it home one weekend with a friend who had a car and lived on the east side of Detroit. Unfortunately during he night on our drive home his car blew up on the Ohio Turnpike and we had to hitch hike the rest of the way home, which we were able to do, arriving at my house around 2 in the morning waking up Mom and Dad in the process. During Bill's visit we drove north to visit my sister Lynn who was living in Wilmington, Delaware, when in Maryland the axle to bill's 1967 yellow Ford Mustang broke. Lynn came to our rescue with funds for the repair and an overnight stay in rural Maryland.
I remember stopping at a restaurant/bar on the way out of camp, having a bite at My Brother's Place, in Fredericksburg, and since I was with my brother Bill I thought I'd commemorate the occasion by buying a t-shirt from My Brother's Place.
Duty at this facility was far removed from the typical hard nosed discipline of the military in the main. Hair length regulations were not strictly enforced. I made the mistake in appearing before my unit CO with hair untrimmed. We had to return to Ft. Lee to pick up our pay personally and my CO tool great exception in the hair covering my ears and over the collar! I was ordered to get a hair cut. I may have done so or maybe not, because on picking up my next check with longer hair than regulation, I was disciplined with an Article 15, loss of pay and grade.
Another display of the lack of discipline at Camp A.P. Hill was shown upon our initial arrival at the Camp. A couple of us took residence in a dorm room and promptly started smoking pot. With music blaring and smoke wafting in the room we heard a knock on the door. I opened it to face the Captain in charge of the warehouse and our TDY assignment! He came over to welcome us to the post! After a quick greeting he turned and left, certainly noticing the illicit activity. However we did not hear anything of it afterward; he just ignored the illegality. We could have been court-martialed!
Unfortunately, pot was prevalent everywhere I was stationed and was obtained with little effort. Even at Camp A.P. Hill all we had to do was wander over to the tents of the Military Police a hundred yards away or so and purchase the controlled substance for our recreational use! That's right, we bought pot from the Police!
Company A, 503 Supply & Transport Battalion, Hanau Caserne, FDR Germany. I received orders dated September 9, 1973 for permanent change of duty for Europe. This was unusual because most soldier's received overseas assignment for a year's term. I had 6 months left until I would ETS (expiration of term of service).
I would like to say I had the wisdom to take advantage of being in Europe for these last 6 months of my Army life. But alas, I cannot. When I wasn't on duty delivering rations to a handful of posts in the greater Frankfurt area, I pretty much kept to myself. I was in Hanau during one of Germany's most brutal winters. The only guard duty I pulled was a night shift alone in a small shack guarding the entrance to some obscure warehouse. The uninsulated walls had no effect on obstructing the bitter cold, and the small wood stove in the center of the tiny shack had little ability to produce heat more than a foot beyond itself. I had to almost wrap myself around it to keep from freezing to death. Unable to keep awake I was roused by the horn of the truck that relieved me of duty the next morning. Why I wasn't court-martialed for sleeping on guard duty I don't know. I did get in trouble the next day because I listened to some friends who said you get the next day off instead, so I didn't report to that morning's formation. This resulted in my third and final Article 15, for being AWOL, even though I was in my bunk getting some much needed sleep. I must have become highly aggravated about this disciplinary incident because Mom wrote a letter of panic and sent an alarming telegram through the Red Cross concerned with my state of mental health. Surely she was recalling in horror the death of her older brother at Ft. Hood Texas, and thought I might meet the same end. See letters 217 through 221. From my perspective the incident faded away soon. But not before I wrote an almost incoherent letter of appeal to my CO. Reading it now, I hope I didn't really forward it to him!
Other travels were to a small British Army post a couple hours north of Hanau where I didn't know anyone, but went along with some friends for an uneventful short weekend. I did make it into Frankfurt a couple time for the nightlife. I remember with detail a nice hike I made from a town 15 miles or so north of Hanau Caserne. I was dropped off there after a ration run in the afternoon to visit someone, and instead just walked back to base in a late afternoon sun. It was quite peaceful walking through the German countryside with gentle sloping hills on each side of the road as I enjoyed the warmth of the Spring sun setting.
My sister Lynn got married while I was in Germany, and so did a friend, Bo McCahill. I sent them both a German coo-coo clock for a wedding gift, with chimes and coo-coo sure to grate on anyone's nerves after a while, though the chimes could be turned off. Another purchase I made was a stereo system, Pioneer amplifier tuner and speakers, and a Girard turntable. (See Mark's letter #180 dated October 21, 1973.)
A frigid German Winter turned into a delightful Spring and soon it was time to return to the States and be released from active duty.
I arrived at Ft. Dix for processing to be released from Active Duty. This took a few days and on April 23, 1974 I left the Army and returned home to Inkster, Michigan, to civilian life and my job as a Rodman for the Detroit Edison Company. I would be called to a week of Reserve Training in Wisconsin, the summer of 1975 (I think), my one and only call for the 2 week training. I would be released from my Reserve Obligation April 23, 1978.
Ribbons and Decorations
National Defense Service Medal
Sharpshooter Badge, w/ Rifle Bar
Organizations to Which Attached
Company C, 17th Bn, 5th Trg Bde USAARMC, Ft. Knox, KY
3rd Enlisted Student Battery, US Army Air Defense School, Ft Bliss, TX
Co P (Stu Enl) 2d Bn, QM Sch Bde/Trp Comd, Ft Lee VA
TDY, HQ Company, USAG, Camp A. P. Hill, Bowling Green, VA
Company A, 503 Supply & Transport Battalion, Hanau Caserne, FDR Germany
Private-1, E1, April 24, 1972
Private-2, E2, August 24, 1972
Private-1, E1, September 14, 1972, Article 15
Private-2, E2, November 15, 1972
Investigation Completed May 25, 1972
revoked due to Article 15, September 14, 1972
|Enlistment Record p.1||Enlistment Record p.2||Enlistment Record p.3||Enlistment Record p.4|