The Navy wanted all of us to look the same and almost succeeded. This photo was taken of our group in Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. Can you find me?
If you found me in the first photo, this one is a bit more challenging. As you can see it wasn’t a very diverse group of men. I was in boot camp in July in 1968 and it was hotter than hell. What I hated most about boot camp was wearing so much clothing in summer. We were required to wear long pants, undershirts, heavy shoes with these stupid canvas leggings. If there was a chance of rain, we had to strap a ridiculous rain coat to our belt. I hated that most of all since my normal summer attire was shorts, maybe a shirt.
As you can imagine this photo was just one in a series of company group shots. There were shots taken before and shots taken afterwards. It was hot and stuffy and smelled like a locker room. I would have preferred being at the beach.
At 22 I was older than most of the other men in the company. I enlisted in the Navy because I got a 1-A classification from my draft board. I was not anxious to be sent into the Army or Marines. I’m no Fortunate Son so I wasn’t going to get into the Reserves.
Ironically the draft lottery was instituted AFTER I was already in Boot Camp when some of us got letters sent to us from our draft boards. I don’t remember if I got one or not, mail was a little spotty.
Meanwhile the war was heating up, complete with tin soldiers and Nixon coming.