First day as a freshman at Seattle U was spent in one building, going from table to table, signing up for classes. But the image that sticks in my mind was a lot of waiting around in stairwells, which must have been the in between times. It was on this day that I met Dave who became a fast friend, throughout my college years and afterwards.
Dave had and has a scientific view on everything. His declared major was chemistry. I chose to study languages, majoring in French and minoring in Spanish. Thus we never had any classes together but one. That first quarter we were both in Army ROTC. The class was held first thing in the morning, it seems well before anyone was awake on campus. My Roadrunner and I would leave my house at an ungodly time of the morning, cross Renton and swing by his house on the way to downtown Seattle via I-5.
At first the class covered mundane things. Mundane Army things that is – care and wearing of uniforms, polishing boots and brass belt buckles, group organizations, saluting, manual of arms, etc. The manual of arms led to being a part of the drill team, which meant more early mornings, including some weekends when we marched in local parades.
Eventually we settled into more ordinary classroom type activities – reading books and writing reports. I reaquainted myself with Lawrence of Arabia, reading his Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and writing about his guerilla tactics.
Then there was a weekend we spent at Fort Lewis. We had already learned to disassemble and reassemble an M-14 in class, and were promised we would soon be doing the same just by touch in a bag. Out at Fort Lewis we actually got to fire it on the range. It was just like in the war movies I’d seen, hold it in close to your shoulder (a hinged support on the butt of the weapon lent stablity, especially in the prone position), squeeze the trigger and watch the kick. There was a selection switch for single shot or fully automatic. Our instructor had us keep it on single shot, for when fully automatic, it was harder to control – the muzzle tending to climb with each shot.
The highlight of the “maneuveurs” was the tactical portion in which we assaulted a house-like structure. We were shown the structure, but not shown how to carry out the assault. I guess they just wanted to see what we would come up with on our own. Officers are supposed to come up with solutions to problems as they confront them. The structure had no roof on it, so we decided to come down through the “ceiling.” I don’t remember what they thought of our solution. And I would prefer getting instruction, and perhaps that would have come later. But it was not to be.
When I received my grades for the first quarter, I was shocked. I am usually a straight A student, and although in this instance I did have two “A”s, there was also one B. And that B was in my major – French.
Dave had some trouble too. So we both went to the ROTC commandant and resigned.