After I returned from Henderson, Tennessee and talked to my mentor Byron Willis, I did as he suggested and enrolled at Eastern New Mexico College in Portales. At least I think I enrolled. I was going to pay my way through college by doing interim preaching jobs in New Mexico. The tuition was cheaper because I told them I was from New Mexico since my parents lived in Ruidoso.
There was a Bible Chair at Eastern New Mexico and the chair of the Bible helped me in getting some of the jobs. The problem was transportation to and from the appointments. I was living with a young fellow who had an apartment his parents had obtained for him. He was happy to have a roommate to help defray some of the expense. He would take me in an old vehicle to the appointments until his vehicle became unreliable. I then would start out early on Sunday Mornings and hitch hike to the appointments. The Lord blessed me but then I was relying on the brethren to take me back to Portales. This worked out well until after services one night only women showed up and none of them were willing to drive in the dark. The men folk were busy with the harvest.
I started out hitch hiking in the dark and it was a long time before some brave soul stopped and ask where I was going. I told him Portales. He said get in because he was going about five mile from there and would drop me off at the road intersection. He didn’t think I would have any trouble getting on in to Portales. Well, that five mile walk took several hours and it was spooky as well as dangerous. I was looking to make some changes. The next week-end I had no preaching engagements so I decided to catch the bus up to Ruidoso, New Mexico and talk to Dad about helping me with an automobile purchase.
Mother and Dad were glad to see me. Dad say that there was no way he could help. Money was tight. He thought I ought to drop out of college and get a full time job. Mother wanted me to keep trying. After they had told me what they were going to say, I admitted that I had stopped at the Army Recruiters Office in Roswell during the bus stop on the way up and got a paper for them to sign for me to get in the service. I was still 17 and could not join the Army without my parent’s permission. Dad was all for it but mother cried some and invoked the name of my Aunt Zelma, who had been a missionary to Africa. She said that Aunt Zelma would not like that decision. Dad signed the papers and on Monday when I was supposed to be in school at Portales, I was in the recruiter’s office in Roswell, New Mexico to enlist.
The Army Recruiter put me and two other like minded individuals on a bus to El Paso to be examined to see if we were fit protoplasm. The older of the three of us looked to be in his 30’s and he flunked the exam. Me and the younger fellow passed and we were given meal tickets and train tickets to Salinas, California. At Salinas there was an Army bus that could carry about 40 passengers. The bus driver was picking up recruits from the railroad terminal and the bus terminal to take them to the Fort Ord base.
The whirlwind of activity started just as soon as we arrived on base. The burr haircut, army fatigues, army boots, canteen gear, helmets etc.. Barracks assignments. We were in the 4th Infantry Training Division. October 9, 1947. Thirteen weeks of basic training before we could leave base. At the end of this 13 weeks of training the captain of the training company called about 20 of us in out of the 200 or so in that company and told us that we had been selected for leadership training. This was optional. He did not want anyone who did not want to progress up the chain of command. What to do? I was scheduled to go home on leave but this would delay my going by another 7 weeks. Fourteen of us took him up on the deal but six were so homesick they decided otherwise.
I finally got home in March of 1948 to do some visiting before shipping out to Korea. I had put on 20 pounds of muscle and was in the best shape of my life. After visiting my folks I went by Portales and talked to my old roommate and sure enough he had saved my stuff. He told me that one of my professors had gotten tired of calling me absent for the first few weeks of the semester and gave up. I then visited Leola and Gilbert who were living on the Ford Place in Farewell at the time. Next stop was at New Deal were Marguerite and Cecil were living with Amy Helen, Cecelia and MariKay (pictured with me).
After the 30 day leave it was then off to Oakland, California to the embarking points to the far east. Another long train ride. The ocean ride started April 22, 1948.