…ALL THAT YOU CAN BE
Behind those ads you see on TV -- about the Army being such a fabulous
way to earn a living that you want to immediately rush out, join up, and
build a career -- are real places and real people in uniform living that
life for real. This story is about one of those people in a few of those
Traffic moving along the two-lane street of the city passed by the
display window. Only someone expressly looking for it would probably be
fully aware of what was printed on it: “U.S. Army Recruiting Station.”
Inside, a row of chairs for prospective recruits and end tables containing
magazines lined the window facing the street. Colorful posters describing
and illustrating various military jobs and opportunities decorated most
of the wall space. Phrases from the posters seemed to jump out at prospective
recruits who happened to enter this office – advertising the Army as a
solid investment, as a down payment on one’s future, and as an opportunity
for travel and adventure; also, as a place to experience personal growth
and to develop self confidence.
Sign up, the posters urged, and the Army will train you in one of more
than 200 occupational specialties. And during the training process to master
that specialty, the Army promises you an opportunity to test yourself both
physically and mentally, to learn to work as a team, to develop leadership
qualities, to bring out the best in yourself and to help bring out the
best in others, to reach down deep and give your very best effort, to meet
the challenge, and most of all, to succeed.
Beyond the promises and the slogans inscribed on those posters, the
reality was that once a person signed a contract and joined the Army, that
they obligated themselves to months, even years of training in basic combat
skills and then in the military specialty they had selected.
Near the door of the office two racks of pamphlets, free for the taking,
provided additional details on various Army programs and military skills.
The man sitting at the desk knew only too well how exaggerated those
claims the Army made were. But he also realized that if a person really
tried he could make some of those slogans into realities, as he personally
had done in his long Army career.
A wooden plate prominently displayed on the desk identified the person
sitting behind it: “SFC R.A. Waldo,” Sergeant First Class Raymond Arnold
Waldo, a man in his mid-50’s, of medium height, and overweight. What hair
he had left on his head was rapidly turning gray.
In addition to the nameplate that rested on top of Sergeant Waldo’s
desk, there was a telephone, a small wooden filing box, a pad of lined
paper, and a pen.
A partition to the side of the sergeant’s desk concealed the desk and
working area of the recruiting officer, Lieutenant Robert Jones.
The wall behind Sergeant Waldo’s desk held citations of awards and
family photographs of younger days. He had been a widower for some time
now. The numerous items displayed on the back wall indicated that he had
been in the Army for a long time. He sometimes told people, “I’ve been
in the Army for almost 30 years; might as well make it a career.”
As you can see, Sergeant Waldo was a man who appreciated jokes; a few
of his were even funny ones. He might even have laughed at the idea that
the Army was the biggest joke of all, and that the real joke was on the
poor chump who got suckered into joining up. He could have, but he didn’t
because one matter he took very seriously was that of recruitment. To Sergeant
Waldo, the process of getting others to commit themselves to the Army by
signing the enlistment papers on the dotted line was something he treated
with the greatest dignity. But in the back of his mind, when he thought
about the subject of commitment, was the thought that anyone who joined
the Army should be committed — as in locked up in a padded cell.
Sergeant Waldo listened reluctantly as a longhaired, unshaven, shabbily-dressed
young man sitting in the side chair rattled on. Something the young man
said obviously irritated Sergeant Waldo because he suddenly rose to his
feet and motioned for the young man to stand up. He opened the door and
pointed the way for the young man to leave.
“Get a haircut,” the sergeant yelled after the young man as he walked
away. “And for your information, my name is not dude.”
Some time had passed since the abrupt departure of the young man. Now
a clean-cut-looking young man sat in the side chair by the sergeant’s desk.
Sergeant Waldo held out a pen to the young man, who proceeded to sign the
forms lying on the desk in front of him. They both stood up and shook hands.
Then the sergeant escorted the young man to the door.
“It’ll take a few days to run a local check. I’ll call you,” Sergeant
Waldo told the young man, as he opened the door for him.
“Thanks, sergeant,” the young man replied.
As soon as the young man had departed, Sergeant Waldo closed the door,
turned his back to it, leaned against it, breathed a deep sigh of relief,
smiled, and raised his fist in the air in triumph, having successfully
recruited another warm body for the Army. His smile became even broader
as the Army’s recruiting tune, “Be All That You Can Be,” came into his
. . .
see the cover--pdf
requires Adobe Acrobat Reader
ISBN: 1-888725-13-3 MamaSquad! Regular size print edition.
Clarence Wall's festive novel about a group of woman from a retirement
home who get recruited into a Army Special Forces Mission (October 2001)
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MAMA SQUAD 1
AND IN MEMORY OF… 3
…ALL THAT YOU CAN BE 9
AT HOME 15
BETTER DAYS 39
A PLAN 57
…NEVER TOO OLD 66
…COUNTING NOSES 80
A NO-GO 87
IN TRAINING 100
…LADIES NO MORE 112
…IN BETWEEN JOBS 126
DINOSAURS AND DESTINY 131
GETTING THE LOWDOWN 139
ON THE MOVE… 150
CAPTIVE AUDIENCE 160
…AND KICKING BUTT 166
SPRINGIN’ ‘EM 188
THE CHASE 196
From MamaSquad! by Clarence Wall copyright 2001 by Clarence Wall
BeachHouse Books, (2001) ISBN 1-888725-13-3
5½ X 8½, 230 pp. $14.95
BeachHouse Books ~ PO Box 7151 ~ Chesterfield
MO 63006-7151 ~ (636) 394-4950
Who is Clarence Wall?
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