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  • I went into the Army in April of 1974… this was a time when Nixon was our president and Watergate was in full swing. I remember being told that he was my Commander in Chief and we could not say anything bad about him… that would be insubordination.

    I have been asked why I joined the Army. I was 18 years old, unemployed, without a car, and could not afford to go to college… so; I figured at least this would get me going with a steady job/income… I think I made about $84 dollars a month… so income is a term I use very loosely. But they fed me and put a roof over my head.

    At that time we were still considered WACs… Women’s Army Corps. Our brass was Pallas Athena… the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, and just warfare. In 1978 it changed from WACs to EW (Enlisted Women) and the men were EM.

    Basic Training was at Fort Jackson, S.C. After processing we were taken to a 3-story barracks with rooms that had 8 bunks each. Mine was the second one from the left as you entered the door.

    One day during an inspection I was standing at attention at the end of my bunk… which meant I was staring straight at another girl standing at attention at the end of her bunk. I am not very good with stare downs… I always lose. All it takes is for someone to make a funny face and I lose it. Well, you guessed it… she made a funny face and I busted up laughing. Suddenly, I had the drill sergeant up in my face… “NADEAU! WHAT IS SO FUNNY?” Of course, my response was, “Nothing, drill sergeant”. The next thing I knew, I had been marched into a corner… yep, my nose was right against the wall.

    Another part of basic training is to learn how to march. Not that difficult, right? Well, I didn’t think so. However, we had one girl that no matter how hard we tried she could not march… her name was Thacker. I will never forget everyone trying to help her until one day the drill sergeant was so frustrated with her… she put her out in front of the barracks and made her lay down on her back with her feet and arms in the air screaming, “I AM A DEAD COCKROACH”. She eventually was put back a class (which you never wanted to happen) and I think discharged. Nowadays, the drill sergeant would probably get in trouble for that.

    One of the most memorable moments in basic was the night before we left for bivouac. The drill sergeants let us go to the commissary to pick up any necessary items. I did not go at first because I was busy spit shining my boots in the rec. room. (Not sure why they called it the rec. room… nobody ever got to do any recreation in it.)

    Now candy, cookies, or any kind of food or drink was not allowed in the barracks… it was considered contraband. When the first group of girls got back from the commissary the drill sergeants were standing at the front door. They were inspecting bags of what people bought… and you guessed it they were filled with contraband for bivouac. The drill sergeants made them sit down on the grass and eat all of what they bought… bags of M&M’s, Oreo cookies, EVERYTHING! After they had eaten all they bought, the drill sergeants told everyone that they could buy whatever they wanted to take with them. Needless to say, the ones who had to eat all those sweet cookies and candy were sick and did not go back to get any more.
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