First Days of a New Recruit
June 25, 2017 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
Every individual story of all the people who have and are serving our great Country is unique, different and always so fascinating to hear. The following story is about a current Payette, Idaho resident and US Army Veteran.
The year was 1950, Nate Brenneise had no money and was working in a saw mill to pay his way through college in College Place, Washington. One night on the way to work (there were 6 guys carpooling every night), the driver fell asleep and crashed the car. Nate was in a body cast for over 3 months and had to go home to South Dakota to recuperate. In those days it was the law to inform the US Draft Board about any changes in your life, so because of the accident Nate had a deferment from service.
The ‘Selective Service Act of 1948’ had expired, and in 1951 they passed the ‘Universal Military Training and Service Act’ to meet the demands of the Korean War. Between 1950 and 1953, the Selective Service Act inducted over 1.5 million men, and another 1.3 million volunteered.
So now back to Nate’s story, he had gone back to college and work at the saw mill in 1951, and then was called to serve in the Army in 1953 at about the time they were signing the ‘Korean Cease Fire Accord’.
Nate’s orders sent him to Ft. Riley, Kansas, and from there to Camp Picket, Virginia for ‘Basic Training’.
After basic training, Nate relates his experiences as follows:
“After Basic we all were sent to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where we did a LOT of “KP” duty.” (For those of you that do not know what “KP” means, “KP” stands for ‘Kitchen Police’ or Kitchen Patrol’, which is commonly assigned to ‘junior’ U.S. enlisted military personnel. A common image that is usually associated with ‘KP’ duty is peeling potatoes.) “Then in January of 1954 I walked up the gangplank of the Alexander LM Patch, a troop transport ship sailing us to Liverpool, England, and all the way I was very ‘sea sick’. We laid over for a day or two then left across the English Channel to Bremerhaven, Germany, and then the next afternoon we left on a train to Zweibrucken, Germany ,which is on the border with France. Along the way to Zweibrucken, we all were interviewed by the Army Personnel Department for our duty and work assignments. I told them that I wanted to go to dental school when I finished my tour of duty. The next Friday we got our orders and there were two of us that were going to the 11th Medical Detachment in Bad Manheim, Germany. My buddy Al was from Duluth, Minnesota and me from South Dakota. Well we got on the wrong train that stopped at every little town but finally arrived at Bad Manheim where we were met by soldiers in the 11th Medical Detachment and they took us in an ambulance to an old German Hotel which was the Headquarters. Sergeant Butler showed us to the room we were assigned which had two cots. My buddy Al asked what we would be doing and Sgt. Butler said there were two openings, one in the Supply Room and one in the Dental Clinic. Al said he wanted ‘supply’ so I got exactly what I wanted, the Dental Clinic!!”
“The next day was a holiday ‘Presidents Day’, so we got a pass to Frankfurt and found the ‘Post Exchange’ and the P.X. at WAC Circle. We got our military pay in ‘paper script’ and paid $1.00 for a Hamburger, Coffee and French Fries.”
(Paper Script refers to ‘Allied Military Currency’, which took the place of American Dollars and local currencies in order to curtail ‘black-market’ profiteering. These ‘Military Payment Certificates’ were used from about 1943 until 1973. The designs of these paper scripts were changed quite frequently in order to reduce forgeries. During the Vietnam War ‘MPC’ days, the actual pay day, was always classified and were never pre-announced, so that the local bars, brothels and bar girls could not convert the old MPC’s to the new ones.) Well, that’s a good portion of Nate’s early days in the US Army, and we will touch on the rest of his story in future articles.
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf