George Worthy
George Worthy

My boys asked me that after we had been living in Gonzales for a while. When I mentioned in a earlier column that we used to play in the culvert on Fanoe Road, we would take our dog Beaujee and walk down the bottom of the culvert playing soldiers. It was probably one of the best times of my life. The boys would pay attention to me and sit still and listen when I told them stories of my military career.

Both my older brothers joined the Marines and I can still feel my eyes getting a little dewy when I remember how proud I was to have two Marines for my older brothers. They looked like they were born to be heroes. At least they were my heroes. I couldn’t wait until I got old enough to join up and look as cool as they did in their Class “A” uniforms. 

I can remember how I was so happy to see them come home on leave, tears would well up in my eyes, and although I never wanted them to see me cry, I think they understood. Dudley, my oldest brother, joined up first, followed by Roger. I was so jealous.

These were the guys that had taught me how to ride a bike, shine my shoes and be strong when I wanted to cry. Nobody picked on me because all the other kids knew that they would be visited by one or the other. Both of them were sent to Japan for 18 months and sent me toys from lands far away. This was back when the toys that came out of Japan were made from our used tin cans. They would send colorful pillows and silky kimonos for my mom and always something special for me. My younger brother was too young to understand or take care of the delicate toys and didn’t understand that our brothers were guarding our country from any foe.

Then, because they were taught that they were hard-assed Marines, they figured it was time to get married. I hated that period because they quickly had children and I was in second place. Then they were assigned to San Diego for a few years and I was old enough to join up. They quenched that idea by telling me that I was going into the Army, not the Marines. As I have mentioned in previous columns, they wanted me to be a paratrooper, and since it was their idea, it had to be the right thing to do. I was standing outside the recruiting office for the Army the day after I turned 17.

Then, I thought my world had ended. I was bused to Fresno to take my physical and was told I couldn’t get into the Army. I had too much sugar in my urine and they thought I was afflicted with diabetes. The next morning I got on the bus back home and couldn’t even talk to anyone. I was brokenhearted.

The next day my dad got a letter that said if I wished they would administer the glucose tolerance test again in 60 days. My dad said I had to quit eating candy forever, and that was my favorite thing to do. In fact my dad said the first word I ever said was, “Gimme some candy.” But I wanted to be like my older brothers, so I quit. Even today I am not even fond of candy (not sure that’s true).

I was sent back up to Fresno and passed the test so I could join up. I cried, but it was tears of happiness. I didn’t even go back home. I was sent, the very next day, to Fort Ord for basic training.

There were times when a sergeant would be screaming at me to get into step when I wondered if I had made a terrible mistake, but I finished basic as an Honor Graduate. I got to wear a stripe on my uniform. It doesn’t sound like much now, but I had a Private First Class stripe before my older brothers. Of course, they said it was because the Army was a lot easier to get promoted, but I didn’t care.

I spent 30 days at home and then took a bus to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where I would be trained to be a combat medic. Then it was off to Fort Benning, Ga., to Jump School. That’s where you are taught to scream, run everywhere you go, do push-ups and shine your boots. If you are a paratrooper, you must have shined boots. In fact, the quickest way to get into a fight in the Army is to step on a soldier’s jump boots. 

Then, I was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. That was where I grew up. The names of the military bases have changed, so if you are so inclined you can look them up. After that I was sent to Germany for two years. I may have grown up in North Carolina, but I learned about life in Germany.

I was just an aid man for a platoon, but again, my luck was with me. I got to travel all over Europe and see things that not many folks get to see.

I always wanted to get promoted in order to have more money, so I asked to go to the Army non-commissioned school, where I managed to graduate with honors. I was promoted and made platoon sergeant. I was flying pretty high when I was told to report to the company commander, where I was informed that he had chosen me to attend Officer Candidate School back at Fort Benning. This was the beginning of another stage of my life where I wanted to work as hard as I could to please my mom and dad and make them proud of me. I think they were.

I am only allowed so many words, so I’ll stop for now. I will continue this next week.

God Bless.

Previous articleSalinas Valley Police Reports | Published March 20, 2024
Next articleCommunity Foundation for Monterey County announces LEAD Institute 2024 participants
Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here