Groundhog Day on Steroids

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

11 - 15 Jun 1996

Tue 11 Jun

Up at 0530, over to CIF by 0700. They are being endlessly picky about mud on the soles of boots and it runs slow. I am supposed to meet Meyer at 0930 but we run late and I don't get back till 0945. the major who met me was sweating; if I didn't show, he'd have to do the address. I told the class:

I also made a few remarks on the touchy subject of Reserves versus Active Component. I agreed there are always a few people who can't get past their prejudices, but the real division is not between Active and Reserve, but between those who care about their jobs and those who don't. My experience has overwhelmingly been that after a few days, if you show you are committed to doing a good job, nobody much cares where you come from.

The feedback was that the talk went well. I handed out the diplomas and was back by 1100 for briefs by BG Mathews and CSM Jackson. After lunch we had homecoming and stress debriefings.

Ray was late. I was just about to give up and head for the PX when he dropped by. We went to a steakhouse, hit a nearby bookstore, then came back and unpacked his gear that we brought back. To bed at 2100.

Wed 12 Jun

Formation at 0700, then again at 0840. We GI the barracks, then I spend the morning reading. Formation at 1300, then at 1340. We bus over to the processing center. We hope to start processing but it's a no go. Most of the orders are in (wrong, as it turns out). Back to the billets at 1630. We hold a 432d formation, promote Holmes to PFC, hand out NATO medals. I call Shawn, then hit the sack at 2000.

CSM Matayosian is here on sick leave. He has calcium deposits in his hand tendons.

Thu 13 Jun

Up at 0600, run two miles. We load our excess bags to ship at 0730. Formation at 0800. We go to outprocess, only to find the orders have the dates and length of service all wrong! We have a long, pointless briefing on filling out 1351's, with endless trivia, that takes up the morning.

At 1330 we get our Reserve ID's, one of the few things to go right. We try to outprocess one group but the orders are still a mess. We have several full COL's who have been raising hell and the pressure is on to get us out. Another rotation is coming in this weekend. Group I, people who need to get out on Friday, plus fillers, go back after lunch for another shot. Group II is to follow at 1800. We are getting tense and irritable because if we miss this week, we lose the weekend, plus Monday (Flag Day). That means we don't outprocess until Tuesday, by which time all the orders will be wrong again, etc. SPC Rudolph had the best description: "This is Groundhog Day on steroids!" I call Shawn, tell here we won't be out before Saturday at the earliest. Group I comes back for evening chow. Group II straggles over at 2100. The drafts of our DD 214's are ready! I make corrections for my awards, get out at 2200, and get to bed at 2230. The outprocessing clerks are paying for other people not doing their jobs, and I (among others) thank them on the way out.

One of the junior NCO's from the 308th asks how many days of service I had this time. I said 172, and 179 in the Gulf. So he said "you didn't get veteran's status." I replied "Nope, I have to get by on my 19 months in 1970-1972." An officer standing by chuckled and said to the kid "If I were you, I'd start taking notes."

Fri 14 Jun

Formation at 0800, get corrected leave forms. At 0900 we go to Finance, turn in our leaves, orders, and 214 drafts. Back to the area at 1100. Tense. Will we make it? Formation at 1330 - no news. I sign for my lost (stolen) rubber boots (I'd hoped to be able to write of field losses but no such luck). Finally at 1500 one group goes to sign their DD214's, followed by a second group at 1600. Word gets out that some people have flights. The flights are not booked by SATO but by Carlson Wagon-Lit Travel. Matt Fellinger has the 800 number. I call and find out that the 432d group leaves at 1700 tomorrow, and the Green Bay group arrives at 2015 on American flight 4722, then call Shawn with the news. It's really going to happen, but we came perilously close to being pushed well into next week (if we had, I was going to rent a car and go out to the Outer Banks or up to the mountains for the weekend). Some of the troops hold a cookout in the evening.

Sat 15 Jun

The jerking around continues right up to the very last minute. We have a formation at 0800, but nothing happens until almost 1100. Then we go re-sign our re-corrected form 214's (!) and get our plane tickets. Then, after a week of delay, we get a rush bus ride to the airport at noon and have to scramble. Truly hurry up and wait, but at least we're out of here.

There are two LTC's with the same name here, one white, one black. The white one, OIC of the demob center, started jumping on SFC McGlinn at one point for asking questions. LTC Oreskovich stepped in and told him to talk to an equal. The LTC said he resented Oreskovich's attitude (!) as if the slack-jawed unprofessional attitude and non-stop screwups we experienced this past week were any credit to the military.

We hang around Fayetteville airport until 1730 - the incoming flight has to zigzag around thunderstorms. We change in Charlotte, then again at O'Hare. The flight at O'Hare, inbound from Cincinnati, is also delayed. Of a dozen 432d people going home, only four of us go to Green Bay: me, Scott, MAJ Sarkela and Matt Fellinger. All the others end up splitting off for Madison, Milwaukee, or Appleton. We get in about 2245. Shawn and Chris greet me, along with little Simba in his kennel, who promptly goes ballistic. Deb Luebker also greets us, also Jakubenas, Hanson, Monfort, Libassi, Rick Stevens, Barb Fondrliak, Denny and Lavon Rader and the media. We get home about 2330.

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