I had wanted to jump out of airplanes ever since my Boy Scoutmaster, Bill Martin, would regale us boys with stories of his skydiving adventures. When I was drafted, I volunteered to go to Green Beret training knowing I’d have to go to paratrooper school as a prerequisite.
After attending Basic Training and Advanced Airborne Infantry Training, I was shipped off to Fort Benning Georgia for Paratrooper School. When I loaded on to the bus that I was to take to Fort Benning I found it to be only half full. I had a whole two seats to myself, sweet! We had only gone about 30 miles of our 150-mile trip when my bus broke down. I was loaded onto the other bus. Many of us had nowhere to sit, so I sat in the aisle with my duffle bag as a seat. It was a terrible ride and I was spent by the time we got to Fort Benning.
Upon arrival we were ordered out of the bus with all of our bags. I had my duffle bag and an “AWOL” bag (a small bag which holds a toilet kit, extra socks and underwear). Some of the guys had purchased brand new jump boots which were still in the box. The Sergeant, a Black Hat, took us on a run. We were told that if we fell out of the run we would be cut from the course. We also had to carry all our bags.
I only had to carry my duffle bag and AWOL bag. Some had that and a big box of jump boots to carry. A pair of jump boots cost about $55.00 which was about a month’s pay. We began to run through the streets of Fort Benning. We were in our dress uniform wearing our low quarters, (dress shoes), which are not comfortable to run in.
It was really hard to run carrying all of our bags. A few guys dropped their jump boots and they were not allowed to stop running to pick them up. $55.00 gone. Many guys fell out of the run as they were not in good enough shape to keep up. They were gone. I don’t know how far we ran, but by the time we stopped I was damn tired.
We were then led to an old barracks left over from World War II. We had the old-World War II type of bunks beds and only one of the two latrines worked. I didn’t care, I was going to be jumping out airplanes soon. This was going to my home for the next three weeks. It turned out to be six weeks, but that is another story.
As remembered by Ski Ingram 1991