Writer Gilbert Moore and photographer Jim Vestal visited Fort Ord in Monterey as training for the Vietnam War was ramping up. Both had been through basic training there in the early 1960’s but in the mid-1960’s thousands of soldiers were going to battle in South East Asia.
At the beginning of 1966 there were less 184,000 troops in Vietnam, by year’s end the number would be 389,000.
The story mentioned four San Luis Obispo county recruits. Wilbur Owens Jr., Roy Claassen, John Tiffin and Charles S. Cagle Jr.
The new recruits just off the bus in their civilian clothes looked and acted bewildered, the men completing the program had a sense of order that the 8 weeks of training had drilled in.
Quoting from the Gilbert Moore’s first person story,
“Before I came into the Army,” said Tiffin, “I thought it was going to be a lot tougher than it actually was. In about two weeks I adjusted.”
The physical training wasn’t so tough he said.
This is a point that several drill sergeants groused to me about over coffee later.
They want it tougher, even though they have to do it all too.
Underneath the bark is usually a mother hen who worries and frets when recruits are sent out into the Army world softer than they’d like them to be.
But meningitis here closed down the post a few years ago, and since then the health regulations have been tough. Every recruit goes to bed at 9:30 p.m. no matter what. That, complain the DI’s isn’t good for discipline.