by Ski Ingram

I was drafted into the US Army on September 9, 1969, during the height of the Viet Nam war.  Every day the nightly news reported the number of KIA’s (killed in action) and WIA’s (wounded in action).  I had no desire to go there.  I was going to college and getting ready to go on a mission. In fact, my mission papers were already sent to Salt Lake City.  Well, I got drafted anyway.

I was told that if I volunteered to be a Green Beret the war would be over before I got out of training.  Being young, ignorant, and not wanting to go to war I volunteered to become a Green Beret Medic. After Basic Training, AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) and Paratrooper School I was sent to Fort Bragg North Carolina to learn to be one of the best fighting men in the United States Army.

We arrived at Smoke Bomb Hill, Fort Bragg N.C. by bus and were marched to a barracks. We were lined up on the company road in front of the barracks.  We were put a parade rest and told to wait. Wait we did, for a very long time.  There must have been more than 100 of us standing there in formation.  No one said a word to us and being at parade rest, we weren’t allowed to talk.

After a long time, a guy wearing a Green Beret walked out of the door.  He was about 40 or 45 years old, tall and in the best condition I had ever seen on a guy that old.  He stood in front of us for a while as he took in the sight before him.  Everyone could see the look of disapproval on his face.  I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

We all found out later that the man looking at us with distain was Rocky Lane, the First Sergeant of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center (Special Forces or Green Beret School). After looking us over and not appearing to like what he saw, he said in a very loud voice, “Everything is legal unless you get caught.”  He then turned on his heel and walked back into the building. 

We were led away wondering what he meant by that.  It took a while, but I eventually began to understand it.

As remembered by Ski Ingram Sept. 2019