I was months away from completing my two-year obligation as a Drill Sergeant when Wayne received his assignment to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Drill Sergeant Duty. My company commander got Wayne assigned to our company, and he was my replacement. Wayne completed Drill Sergeant School and served his two-year obligation at Fort Jackson. I presented my Drill Sergeant hat to Wayne.
Left to Right - Me giving my Drill Sergeant Hat to Wayne, May 1978. Wayne was my replacement on Drill Sergeant Duty. This photograph was published in our hometown newspaper, The Columbus Ledger, with an article about our service.
In January 1976 the Army assigned me to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Drill Sergeant duty. I completed the Drill Sergeant Course in May 1976. I found the Drill Sergeant Course competitive, challenging and demanding.
Being a drill sergeant meant I worked day and night for nine weeks. We called our Drill Sergeant Duty “being on the trail.” My day started by waking at 4:00 am, getting ready for work and then driving to post. The CQ had the trainees up and doing their morning routine: making their bunks, cleaning the barracks and latrine, and getting their gear ready for the training day before I arrived. We followed the training schedule, and I’d get home around 7:30 pm.
The drill sergeants wear the campaign hat as a testament of their demonstrated professionalism, commitment to the mission, and proven leadership. The hat further symbolizes the lineage of the past, present, and future of the U.S. Army.
In the middle of July 1974, Wayne, me and our wives took a three-day weekend to go to the military resort area in Berchtesgaden. Vacationing at Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) Europe facilities in southern Bavaria is one benefit of duty in Europe.
At the Chiemsee recreation center, the Lake Hotel actually sat on the edge of the 64-acre Lake Chiemsee. The resort was in southern Bavaria and Hitler chose this site for the first rest house of the Autobahn system and built a large Rasthaus complex on the shore of the lake.
Wayne and I sitting by the lake, at Chiemsee, relaxing and forgetting about the company back at Heilbronn.
In the spring of 1974, the Company Commander asked for volunteers to attend the French Commando School in Breisach, Germany, a short distance from the Rhine River and the Black Forest, a mountainous region in southwest Germany, bordering France. The Rhine River separated the two countries.
The French Commando Course was similar, in some of the physical requirements, to the Army Ranger course, but much easier. Ranger school lasted nine weeks. They stayed out in the field most of the time and went without food and sleep. We called the French Commando Course a “mini-Ranger Course,” but we had hot meals, and, most nights, we slept in a bunk. The Rangers seldom had either during their course. This course taught small-unit tactics, patrolling, and leadership, but the biggest focus of the course was on teamwork. There were many obstacle courses, and we carried a pack with an M1 rifle everywhere we went.
We found the three-week course challenging and demanding and completed many tasks to include obstacle courses, river rafting operations, staring down a tank, boxing, jumping from a helicopter, rappelling and mountain climbing to name a few. The school commandant awarded the French Commando Badge upon our successful completion of the course.
When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir and Soldiering After the Vietnam War.