Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Army I Knew: PEBD

Thirty years ago today the cover of "People" magazine featured Ronnie and Nancy, Rob Redford, Goldie Hawn, Brooke Shields, Larry Hagman (as "JR" from the TV show "Dallas") and the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard as the most "intriguing people" of the year.

That day Mary Tyler Moore turned 44. An episode called "A War for All Seasons" aired on the TV sitcom M*A*S*H. The country was getting ready for Ronnie Reagan's first inaugural parade, and the U.S. hostages in Tehran were preparing for the new year in Iranian captivity.

In China the post-Mao deconstruction of the Great Helmsman's rule continued with the trial of the Gang of Four. War continued in Chad, in Angola, across much of southern Africa, in fact, as the apartheid state there entered its final years, while in the Persian Gulf Iran and Iraq began their Pyrrhic eight-year war.The President of the U.S. was James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. and 227,224,680 people lived there with me. The GDP was $2,784.20 billion that year, the median Household Income was $17,710, a first class stamp cost 15 cents.

Unemployment was 7.1 percent, but, remember, we were in the tail-end of the "oil crisis". In a couple of years the economy would start recovering and Reagan would get the credit although his policies actually had little or nothing to do with it beyond increasing the federal deficit.

Alfred Hitchcock, Marshal Tito, Jean Piaget, and Mae West had died. John Lennon had been murdered by a nutbag.

Voyager I had reached Saturn back in November, returning data on its 14 moons as well as its more than 1,000 rings.

That year the USSR announced it planned to end its occupation of Afghanistan but didn't for another eight years. Andrei Sakhorov was exiled to Gorky, while here Operation "Abscam" indicted 30 government officials. In Poland workers seized the shipyards in Gdansk and a Polish court recognized Solidarity as umbrella union. 400 cases of "Toxic Shock Syndrome" were caused by certain kinds of tampons. Elvis' personal doc went on trial and revealed that the dead King took something like 10,000 pills in the 20 months prior his death. The big fads in the U.S. were Rubik's Cube, the new Sony Walkman, and Yoda toys and dolls; Garfield dolls and "Baby on Board" signs remained unseen in the future. Tom Selleck debuted in
"Magnum P.I."And I joined the U.S. Army, on this day, thirty years ago.

29 DEC 1980 is my Pay Entry Basic Date; the first day of the rest of my Army life.Over the next several weeks I wanted to talk about the Army I joined. The Army of the Eighties is little more than a memory now; thirty years and a hell of a lot of war has changed that Army all out of recognition. The Army of One bears little resemblance to the Army of 1980, the Army of "Be All That You Can Be".

I loved it then and I love it now; the Army has been part of me most of my adult life. But I have a special fondness for the Army of my youth, and so I wanted to put down on paper, so to speak, what it looked like, who we were and what we did, before those memories fade any further.Next: Beginnings - Fort Dix, New Jersey.

4 comments:

Lisa said...

I enjoyed this whirlwind tour of 30 yrs. ago, and look forward to your memories of your Army.

Barry said...

25 SEP 80, for me.

Barry said...

(hit 'post' too early)

Benning's School for Boys, then Baumholder.

rangeragainstwar said...

Chief,
The pencil you are using in the picture is too long.
In SF we'd break it in two to save weight. I swear this was taught to us in Recon classes. I still don't know if this was tongue in cheek, or the real deal.
I always used stubs just to be sure.
Looking fwd to your entries.
jim