Bill's Vignettes

This is my story. It will consist of little pictures, snippets, or vignettes, from my past. It is a legacy to my children and grandchildren and those that may come after and hopefully will also be of some interest to the casual reader who doesn't know me from Adam.

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Holding Company

Posted by sundoulos2005 on August 25, 2007

It was mid-afternoon when that huge gate was shut to my past and, not having eaten either breakfast or lunch, I was hungry. “Is there any place I can get something to eat?” I asked the guards.

“Oh, sure,” one replied, “at the chow hall.”

“But it’s closed,” replied the other. “You’ll have to wait until supper is served.” I was directed to the administration building where I would be checked in. By the time I was finished with the paperwork and assigned to my barracks and bunk the holding company had already left for chow. I quickly found out that single recruits were not allowed to go anywhere on their own. I missed another meal. I just as quickly found out that nobody really cared.

My stay in Holding Company, or “Incoming Detention” was short-lived. As soon as there were enough recruits we were formed into a training company and moved to different quarters. In the meantime we underwent physical examinations, uniform issue, were taught how to stand at attention and parade rest, how to salute and whom to salute, and when to salute. In Boot Camp recruits salute anyone E-6 and above. We were given rudimentary instructions on how to march. We spent long hours in the rain, getting up on some days at 3 or 4 A.M., even though reveille was not until 5:30 A.M., and assembling in the rain to wait and get drenched enough to march. Lake Michigan rains are mighty cold in April, particularly when they are blown in from across the lake.

Once the day was through we did have free time. There wasn’t much to do so most of us watched the movie provided each evening. I was very much surprised to find they were recent releases. The only movie I remember by name is “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” starring Don Knotts. It was good entertainment for a dime. Even though it is far-fetched, I still enjoy watching it.

All recruits were required to attend “the church of his religion” on Sunday morning. If you didn’t have one you had to pick one. That is where I first heard the Navy Hymn. It seems we always sang the first stanza:

Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid’st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.

It is a beautiful hymn with beautiful music. You can read the history and alternate stanzas here.

About three or four days into Boot Camp we were introduced to our Company Commander, TMC(SS) Matthew Fowler. He assembled us together along with all our worldly possessions and marched us off to our home for the next four weeks, which was across the railroad tracks and highway and accessed by an underpass. We were finally going to be sailors.

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