Gunport

Coden, AL 36523

Phone (251) 824-1776

Fax (251) 824-1778

Open Wed – Sun  9 to 5

 Directions to Gunport 

 

 

Instructor Experience

Born just prior to World War II, I knew that all wars were crusades that men went to, proved their manhood, defended the best country, and helped protect the balance of the world. Little did I know the real world doesn't work that way, but that was a lesson learned later in life.

After I finally finished high school, I was able to make my escape to the US Army. Eager to get away, I arrived at the processing center, had, of all things, potatoes for breakfast, and was issued a lot of cold weather clothing I never could imagine wearing. A few days later they trucked us to our basic training company. Maybe it had been a bad day for the Drill Sergeants, as they used loud foul language and made derogatory comments about virtually everyone’s physical condition and heritage, and some other things that were just rude. Finally it got to be 2000 hours and they turned out the lights and the bugle played taps. Mobile, Alabama, my home, was such a long way off; and three years seemed like an eternity.

Sgt. Roach, my drill sergeant, carried a swagger stick, and one day, while we were doing concurrent training across the road from the rifle range, he kept us busy by having us practice low crawl. Every time our helmets came off the dirt he would give it a strong tap with his swagger stick. It sounded like one had his head in the liberty bell and Ben Franklin was hitting it with Thor's hammer.

Eight weeks later we graduated and were men in very good condition, with the concept of how to stay alive and carry out basic military missions. During our second eight, they made Engineers of us, and then we went to an advance school, Combat Construction Specialist. On December 23, 1959, they loaded us on the USS Gen. Rose in Bayonne, NJ and shipped us off to Germany. I went to the 3rd Infantry Division, in Bamberg Germany. Many things helped me mature while I was there. I met and married my only wife Anna Maria Angermuller, made Sergeant, and learned a few things about the military and leadership. I then went to demolition, mines, and booby trap school in Murnau.

Relations really went sour with the Russians and they built the wall. Germans were scared, and really felt, or knew, our presence was keeping them out of their country. We had a worthy mission!! And folks appreciated it!! Then came the Cuban crisis. We drew the demo, laid the firing wire, filled the sand bags with tamping material, and unloaded the TNT to blow the bridges down. I was very scared. Our mission was to hold three to four days while reinforcements were put together and sent from the states. The three or four days was a very optimistic evaluation as to how long we could hold. Well, the Russians finally blinked and you know the rest of the story.

Finding my niche, I re-enlisted for a quick burst of six and got orders back to the world of the round doorknobs and the big PX. I could not wait to go home and report to my next assignment, Ft Bragg, NC. Unfortunately, it sure didn’t take long to learn that soldiers who weren’t paratroopers had support missions, and never got to join in any of the other soldier games. Woe was I. The only graceful way I could get out was to apply for OCS.

When we reported to OCS, they talked about us again, but I had learned that game during Basic. Many challenges and changes later, with a better understanding of responsibility, utilization of time, and the cornerstone of the candidate corps, "cooperate and graduate," we were graduated. Knowing I never wanted to be classified as a "leg" again, I signed up for jump school. After OCS it was a snap. Then I signed up for Ranger school. I could now do anything. Wrong. One goes to jump school, and one tries Ranger school, which has a fifty percent attrition rate, but two and one half months later, I was attending graduation. I then went to Ft. Rucker as a Platoon Leader for a while, where I was introduced to the Pathfinders. It was then back to Ft. Benning for Pathfinder school.

After having served about a year in that unit came orders for Viet Nam. En route I received Advisor Assistance Training at Bragg and attended Defense Language School at Monterey. Then I found myself in-country. After seven years as a soldier, I heard my first shots fired in anger. It scared hell out of me, but I realized that is if one concentrated on the job, and what you could do to get through it, you could focus and not freeze up. And the most amazing thing in my life was realizing that the stuff they taught us actually worked!!!!! I could handle this also.

Assigned to the Second Division Reconnaissance Company. I had found a worthy job, glamour, excitement, prestige, heady stuff, what we had trained for, and a worthy opponent. While returning from an operation north of Quang Naigh we were passing through a graveyard. I was near the rear of the company when someone got very personal with me with an automatic rifle. I was just a little too low on the ground for him to be able to hit me, but I realized I was too far away from the tree line to make a run for it. Now what? Training would save me as it always had before. OK, let's get this thing under control, ignore the crack of the rounds overhead, and review. Ranger school training? No. Jump school training? No. Third Infantry training? No. It took what I had learned seven years before, in basic training with Sergeant Roach. He appeared in my minds eye, reviewed how it was done, and walked beside me while I low-crawled out of that cemetery to safety and relief.

I finished my tour and returned to Ft. Benning where I was a Lane Instructor in the Ranger Training Command for two years before I returned to the First Air Cavalry Division. There I commanded the 11th Pathfinders, and then commanded Company A, 2nd of the 7th Battalion. That was the end of my wartime experience. I later retired a Lt. Colonel. Now they don't even invite me on the worthy missions.

That is a long story to help you understand why I think training is important, and how it needs to be conducted. Hopefully you will never need the skills we train. However if you do I want to do my part to be sure you are the best, not second best. Training is what we revert to and fall back on when we start to think. It is very, very important and if our time is worthy enough to invest in doing it, we must get everything we can out of the time we invest. That means forming muscle memory that we do not even have to think about. It just happens without our thinking about it. And if we have trained correctly, it happens the correct way.

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