When I was eighteen in 1969 the Army selected me to go by troop transport from Kansas City to Washington D.C. for a meeting of AUSA, the Association of the United States Army, I was in ROTC.
I had been attending military school in Missouri since the ripe age of 13. There were rules against booze and dope at the school and the ordinance was strictly enforced. Any fellow cadet or instructor could rat on you if they smelt liquor on your breath or ganja on your person. Since I was of draft age at the time getting busted meant immediate induction in the Army and trip to Viet Nam most likely. I was against the war and was scared to death of getting my nuts shot of or worse. As cadets we heard stories how guys in Hueys on their way to combat sat on their helmets to protect their family jewels from stray flack or bullets.
I was slated to go in the Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Ifantry upon graduation. I would have made the worst platoon leader in Army history. I hated guns and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with one, having little idea how the sights worked as well as no knowledge of maps or compasses. I would have been what they called 'fracked'or shot by my own soldiers in the back for sure.
As for any interest in the war on my part, it was limited to how soldiers in combat used a M1 rifle like a bong or hooka to smoke opium and ganja, as well as a fascination with hairless Asian pussy.
Terms such as, 'honor', 'serving ones country', and the jingoistic grap of the day meant nothing to me. And the Viet Cong where much better versed in the arts of warfare and better soldiers than us. They were true soldiers who had something to fight for.
Mostly I felt hated and despised by other young people of the time and when on leave I could see the looks of distain on the long hair's faces when they saw our military haircuts. It felt like a outcast, and all I wanted to do was to stop shaving and having to get haircuts. I wanted to buy a van and go on a spiritual journey out west somewhere, to New Mexico or California maybe.
Why the Army selected me to go to Washington as a representative of whatever it was they perceived me to be was a enigma. I saw the week long trip to attend military meetings as a booze, dope and fuck holiday. I had no plans to go to any of the meetings because no body really gave a shit back then and I wouldn't be missed.
The trip on the troop transport plane would be my first and last thank God, because I never made it into the Army anyways. Thanks to the Quakers who helped me get out of the Army all together, not on moral grounds, but by helping me get a Section Eight, in that I was way too crazy to visit a country that wasn't mine and cut off body parts and set a glow it's inhabitants with a flame thrower. Proving I was nuts was no chore because I was and still am mad as piss.
I bought some acid from a fellow cadet and took a few doses before getting on the plane to D.C. I spent the hours in flight listening to the Grateful Dead and the Doors on a tape player with batteries, tripping my brains out.
On arrival in DC we where transported by military buses to Myer-Henderson Hall, Fort Myer. I was still tripping my brains out and didn't even know what country I was in. When we reached the barracks I was assigned a bunk. I immediately stripped off my uniform and put on some jeans and a tie-die t-shirt with a Dead Head logos of a skull with dread locks on it, still wearing my military issue combat boots, I hitched a ride to Georgetown.
I got a ride from a couple of red neck chicks in their 40s, who thought they where hippies, but were only impersonating hippies for the day, wearing moccasins and bell bottoms with funny floppy leather hats. I offered them some acid, but they didn't want any because they were basically boozers not head. They had a ice bucket of beer in the trunk of their old Chevy station wagon and.
They dropped me off in Georgetown thank God because after I saw the big cock (Washington Monument) and got my cock sucked I wanted to ditch the dogs ASAP.
I entered the first bar I could find in G-Town, the bar was the type of place that no self respecting frat member would go to drink. It was called 'Axels'. They served up shots of cheap whiskey and beer in mugs. Patrons where served peanuts, shelling them and throwing the shells on the floor.
I was just another lunatic in Axels, lost in a jungle of existential superlatives as time seemed to disappear while "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Astral Week' flowed in color out of the Juke Box in rainbow waves.
Axels in Georgetown was a far cry from Missouri, it was as though I
was in Dorothy's house swirling in a tornado cloud as it landed on the planet OZ. I could hardly speak a word amongst the nothingness wizards, I felt as though I had eaten a bucket of Thorazine and could only stutter, spit and babble.
I realized that Axels was beyond anything that I had ever experienced so I made my way back to Fort Meyers somehow, I missed the entire week of U.S. Army seminars. The education I got in Axels was something you couldn't pin down on a military map. I had plenty to take back with me to the academy and it had nothing to do with war or reality really.
It was one of those intrinsic experiences that cant be explained or translated in words. It took me weeks to get back to earth, and the earth seemed like a new horizon full of potential.
Years later I realized the experience could be summed up as 'when you are ready for the teacher the teacher will appear and then you will disappear for awhile'.