The Writers Voice
The World's Favourite Literary Website

The Other Casualty of War - Chapter Four


Paul Bylin

By the time I turned 17, I began to feel as if I needed something or someone to help get my act together. I wasn't able to hold a job and doing robberies and B&E’s (breaking and entering) couldn’t keep a steady cash flow coming in. Seems we’d be rich one day and, the next we’d be scraping to buy cigarettes.

The United States Army, I thought, would be a good place to start. After all, a couple of friends joined and they seemed to be doing pretty well. My current brother-in-law had joined and when he came home on leave, I was impressed with the changes I had seen in him. However, he had not yet gone to Vietnam.

I went to the recruiter and he said because I was only 17 years old, I'd need my parent's permission to join. I took all the tests to see what I was qualified for. They told me I'd make a good clerk, and the recruiter guaranteed I'd get into that school. I thought, "School? Man, I didn’t want anymore school, but, well, all right." I'd do it. I didn’t think I needed it…hell, look at all the professions I already had under my belt!

I went and spoke to my mother and stepfather to tell them I wanted to join the service. My mother was against the idea, and my stepfather was for it, especially when I said I'd send home an allotment for them. I don’t think my parents, like many others, were quite aware of the situation in Vietnam. I know I wasn’t.

My parents finally gave their consent, and I signed the papers, took the oath, and the next day I got on a train at South Station in Boston headed for Basic Training. I thought I’d be going to Fort Dix, New Jersey. That’s what the recruiter told me anyway. Nope! It sure wasn’t New Jersey! I was speeding my way to Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Although I was alone on the train, I was excited about what lay in store for me. I could feel a sense of pride building in me. Wearing the uniform would surely impress girls. Most of the passengers seemed to be going on vacations or business trips, not many, or so I thought, were going to Fort Jackson.

We pulled into Richmond, Virginia, first. While we sat there waiting, some women came on board and sold us a box lunch for one dollar. When I opened it up I was pleasantly surprised to find some homemade fried chicken, a biscuit, potato salad and a small soda. I can distinctly remember how delicious it was. When the train pulled into the station, somewhere in South Carolina, there were busses waiting for new soldiers, like myself. I guess there were more guys on the train headed for Fort Jackson than I had thought! The busses were packed with kids, just like me.

Chapter 5

Critique this work

Click on the book to leave a comment about this work

All Authors (hi-speed)    All Authors (dialup)    Children    Columnists    Contact    Drama    Fiction    Grammar    Guest Book    Home    Humour    Links    Narratives    Novels    Poems    Published Authors    Reviews    September 11    Short Stories    Teen Writings    Submission Guidelines

Be sure to have a look at our Discussion Forum today to see what's
happening on The World's Favourite Literary Website.