I don’t save things like this, so it was a surprise when it popped to the top. I don’t know how it survived so many years without ending up in the landfill, but it did. I guess that means I will preserve it now because it is a survivor.
“It” is my diploma recognizing successful completion of training as a US Army motion picture photographer. You can read the thing for details.
There was a little time between the end of my mopic training and my reassignment to Germany – about a month – and I managed to find something to do to keep busy that wasn’t KP duty. I volunteered to help work through the backlog of paperwork that developed when the company clerk’s enlistment ended but no replacement had yet been assigned to the company.
I impressed the First Sergeant with my pitiful typing skills and excellent ability to organize my work. In those pre-Spell Check days, too, I actually could spell words correctly. He liked that! He asked if I wanted to be the new company clerk. It wasn’t the worst idea, though I wouldn’t get to use my mopic training. I didn’t know then I was slated to go to Germany, which definitely would have made the idea of an office job in New Jersey a joke!
The First Sergeant needed to check my records first, he said. A few minutes later, he came back. “You entered on the delayed entry program, Thomas, so there’s no way I can put you in this job.”
My friend Ralph lived in New York City at the time. Being stationed at Ft. Monmouth meant I could visit him easily. That figured into my willingness to consider a clerical position in New Jersey, but I’d signed a legal contract when I signed up for the delayed entry program. They were bound to honor it or release me from service.
It sank in finally: I’d entered the US Army with the guarantee of a job as one of three things: a graphics artist, a still photographer, or a motion picture photographer. The first training session that came open in any of those specialties was the motion picture training at Ft. Monmouth. Like it or not, I was going to work as a motion picture photographer in the US Army for the remainder of my three years of active duty. Typewriter and a desk or motion picture camera and travel: Was it a choice? Was I disappointed not to get the clerical job? Come on, now!
Then I learned I’d be assigned to the 69th Signal Company (Photo) in Kaiserslautern, Germany, a much better assignment than company clerk of Company O, Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey, I guarantee.
On top of that, my friend Ralph moved to Paris with his friend Deborah that same year, and I had adventures with them in France and Germany before I returned to America.
I’m starting to understand why I kept this piece of paper!