When you start out in life you do not plan to be a specific type of person. Usually you are influenced by some person or some idol whom you want to emulate. Sometimes there are many idols until you finally settle on one. I have had many people that I admired in my life. My Dad most of all. He was trained as an electrician, a mason, a carpenter, and as an architect. He left formal schooling in the 8th grade and at 17 was in the Engineers in the First World War and in France. He could do almost anything. Rebuild cars, garden, teach and play a great game of dominoes. He had been there and done that.
You can skip to the last two paragraphs of this blog entry and skip a lot of boring history for some. Do that now, or read a couple of paragraphs and then skip. But you are welcome to read it all.
I went to work in 1950 for Dr. Pepper doing all kinds of work, after school and on weekends. Before that I had helped my brothers on paper routes. I did join the cub scouts in 1946. I played football, ran track and sang in the choir. I did none at my best level. Why? Basically, because I had no idea what the best was. I now know that the coaches I had, did not know how to teach how to give your all. I observed two coaches that knew. They both won State Championships in my sophomore year at Lubbock High in football and basketball. I was on neither team.
I graduated in 1955 in the same class as Buddy Holley and a few other great people. Most of us still stay in contact through an email letter. That is great. Most of us are at least 75 or older. After graduation, I started college in Architecture. Toward the end of my first year I was told that I would not be allowed to finish that year, and I would not be able to enroll until the following fall. Seems that I had broke a school rule concerning alcohol. I had not broken the rule, but my mother would not let me contest the ruling, because the head of the discipline board was a deacon in my church.
So I joined the Army. I did basic training at Ft Chaffee, advanced Infantry at Ft. Hood and then two and one half years in Hawaii in the 25th Infantry Division. I was first assigned to an Recon Platoon as a machine gun jeep driver. After just a few months I was awarded blood stripes to Specialist fourth Class. No, no one was killed. It meant that some one had been demoted and his strips were then awarded to someone else who normally would not have been ready, but had earned the right by hard work or for some by brown nosing. I will not explain that term. Next I went to Sergeants Academy. I placed 3rd in my class of 70. After that we learned about light tanks. I became proficient at every position and soon was running a recon tank section, with my own jeep driver.
In Honolulu I was learning other lessons, but it was not about girls. There were about 12 military guys to each girl, from the age of 8 to 80. I entered an application for West Point, but the executive officer of my company sat on it. My platoon sergeant put my name in as a driver for our Battle Group Commander. I was soon driving a full colonel all over Hawaii. One commander left and a new one came in. He was a Texas A&M graduate. As a Texas Tech student we got along well. In Hawaii, I did get to know the members of the Kingston Trio. It was an interesting time. Hawaii became a State while I was there. I was able to be a representative aboard the first Japanese Naval Ship to visit Hawaii since Pearl Harbor. I was able to watch the selection of a soldier to be buried in the Punchbowl Cemetery as the Pacific Theater Unknown Soldier, and I was able to introduce two members of the future Kingston Trio to Buddy Holly when he was in Hawaii on tour in 1958. We also made two LST (Landing Ship Tanks) trips to the Big Island, and I was able to have fun in the lava beds and swim on Kona Beach before there were any ugly hotels. Early in 1959 I was promoted to Buck Sergeant, and then returned to the states by troop ship.
Soon I enrolled at Texas Technological College in Architecture Construction. In 1962 I found out I was going to be recalled to duty so I joined the ROTC, which allowed me to complete college, and to gain a commission. I was having fun in college. Running with a sports car crowd. I even had a 1959 Austin Healey 1oo Deluxe. Along the way I had a 1838 Ford with a 1948 Flathead Mercury engine. I also had a 1952 Plymouth, two Austin Mini 1000s, a Fiat Abarth that had won the 1962 Sebring Race in its category. I 1962 I was very busy. I was married, had a daughter, joined the ROTC and was working full time for a bread company at night, and carrying a full college load . In 1963 I buckled down and completed my courses and earned a degree in Architecture and a Commission as an Engineer Second Lieutenant. College had been fun. I even learned how to have fun and do serious study.
When I left college in January of 1964, the job market was very flat, but the Military market was booming. I requested active duty and soon found myself at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. After eight weeks I graduated and was offered a job at Belvoir as a tac officer with the Engineer Officer Basic Course. For three more weeks I worked out and then went to Fort Benning, Georgia for Airborne training. I was in good shape and it was fun. Soon I was back at Belvoir running new lieutenants. We did physical training three times a day, plus a daily handball game with my fellow tac officers. Now I began to get in shape. Soon I was running daily with a group that was doing five miles in thirty minutes. We did this daily five days a week. After a few months I could run a half mile in two minutes in combat boots. I high school it was pain in light running shoes. I did this for two years. Leading lieutenants, teaching courses, visiting Washington, DC, and the northern Virginia area. Another fun assignment. About the time I was to get out of the Army, I was offered an assignment in Germany. My wife and I decided to go. So soon, we were in Germany with two girls, and a third on the way. There was not much to do on the troop ship going to Bremen-haven. Next I get a call and my assignment had been cancelled but they gave me the choice of several other units.
I chose the 39th Engineer Group in Karlsrhue. The day I got there was a Friday, and I was assigned as the Headquarters & Headquarters Company Commander. On Monday we went to Baumholder for our annual testing. It was a very quick learning curve for a not so young lieutenant, with two colonels, two majors, and several captains in his company. I went head to head with the lieutenant colonel, executive officer, but later became good friends. This was a great assignment and I learned a lot.
In 1967 things in Vietnam were going strong and there began to be a shortage of officers in Germany. I was at one point, the Hq & Hq Company Commander, the Communications Officer, the Aviation Officer, the Mess Officer and several other minor jobs. I really did learn a lot. Before long I was made the Group Operations Officer as a young captain in a Majors slot. I was both operations officer and security officer when the 1967 Israel War broke out. We had two new colonels, neither which were cleared to receive classified messages in Europe. I was to act as a group commander for two weeks. Did not get credit for it. In 1968 I was given command of the 78th Engineer Company (Construction)(Separate) for its return to the United States. We prepared all the equipment and a cadre of 25 to move the unit to Camp Irwin, California. I bought myself a new Mini Cooper S and we began the trip. Imagine 3 girls, a wife, 23 bags in a 4 passenger car driving from New York, to Lake Placid, Florida, then to Muleshoe, Texas and then to Camp Irvin, California. Great trip. We made it with no problems, and were greeted like kings from the time we entered the gate. Our quarters were ready, and even the coffee was perking when we entered the door. They did love Engineers. Our first job was to make a new road out the back of Camp Irwin so anyone could get to Reno or Las Vegas quicker. They did love what we did.
I had only 6 months at Camp Irwin bringing the company back to full strength, getting rid of all the equipment that we brought from Germany, and drawing all new equipment. The company was fully functional when I got orders for Vietnam. I was sent to Monterrey California for 12 weeks of Vietnamese language training and then assigned to an advisers slot in I Corps (the northern part of South Vietnam). I was given a week of orientation in Saigon, two weeks more in Da Nang and then went to Hue, Vietnam, to the 101st ARVN Engineer Battalion (Combat). Another great assignment, but truly a waste of an adviser. My counterpart, a Vietnamese Major was a graduate in Engineering form Ohio State University. His English was a good as mine. I was able to help him in meetings with the US Commanders and Engineers. I was also his social secretary for tennis matches. He showed me the best restaurants in the Cities of Hue and Dong Ha. We had a great time. We were in the Citadel of Dong Ha when the ammo dump exploded. We were in a camp site on the coast when a huge cannon round from the Battleship, New Jersey, fell short and landed on our burm. But again we had fun. It was after Tet 1969 so the area was fairly peaceful though I did learn a lot and saw much more. I did take an R&R to Hawaii to see my wife. That was fun. After one year, I returned to the states to attend the Engineer Officers Career Course at Ft Belvoir, Virginia.
The Engineer course was 8 months long, and after the course I was assigned as the Facilities Officer at the Engineer School. Here I had a good time cleaning up the schools buildings, getting rid of facilities we did not need and bringing a civilian worker back into the real world. For about 10 months, I retrained him into being a productive member of the school and not a drain on the government system. I also got to meet several general officers and even attended a West Point- Navy football game. Then I got orders for a second tour in Vietnam.
When I got to Saigon there was a two day wait for assignment. I was called for an interview. They asked me if I knew about bridges and construction. I said I did. In just a few hours I was the Operations Officer for the 31st Engineer Battalion (Combat). Another great assignment. I had projects all over III Corps. I was daily flying to check projects from a concrete and steel bridge on the II Corps border to the Cambodian border where we built fire bases. Though we were combat we did any and all projects that you can imagine. A normal Combat Battalion has about 1000 soldiers. We had close to 2000 and twice as much equipment. About this time I got my “Dear John”. My wife of ten years was divorcing me. I invoked the Soldiers & Sailors Relief Act until I returned to the States. During this tour I did take an R&R to Hong Kong and an in-country R&R to Vung Tau a beach resort run by the Army. I also flew one weekend to Ban-cock, Tia-land
We were then given orders to start the draw down of our unit. This meant we were giving all our equipment to the Vietnamese and we were going home. It took a while to turn in three engineer companies, two dozier land clearing companies, three Repair companies, a transportation company, and a light equipment company, a mine dog platoon and a mine rolling tank. We also found we had a few armored personnel carriers, some airborne mechanical mules and a lot of other equipment engineers were not supposed to have.
I was then assigned for three months to the Engineer Command Headquarters as an operations officer, designing Engineer units to operate in the draw down. Again I had fun.
After this I was assigned to go to Walla Walla Washington to work on some Corps of Engineers Dams. Because of my divorce, and so I could be close to my children I requested reassignment, and was sent to the United States Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss. When I got to Fort Bliss no one knew what I was talking about. In a few days about 20 officers and a few non-commissioned officers showed up all in the same predicament. One a colonel knew why we were there. Soon we were working hard to establish an Army level university for the top non-commissioned officers of the military services, the Sergeant Major. In less than 4 months we put together the faculty and facilities and readied for the first class. My duty was to establish the facilities at Biggs Airfield at Ft Bliss, Texas and establish the logistics department for the academy. Boy did I have fun. Soon I had a humming supply and were were readying facilities from classrooms, to library, to auditorium and a headquarters building with instructor offices. I was soon working with several million dollars and drawing together all that was needed. I developed my own table of allowances. This is a document the Army uses to allow issue. Mine was approved all the way to Army without question. Had my boss ordered it, I could have requested the Air Forces largest aircraft. I even arranged for a Texas Tech Architecture class to do a design project for a future Sergeants Major Academy facility. I laid the seeds for the grand facility that exists today at Biggs Airfield today.
After about a year and one half I was moved into the Management Department as a writer. This is where they took a rusty old west Texan and taught him a little of how to write. Of course it was stiff military writing. Every document we produced had to go before a murder board that took it apart, corrected it and sent it back for rewrite. For a while I did not think I would ever get a document approved. But soon I was doing very well. This was before word processors and computers. At the same time I arranged for Sul Ross State University to teach a MBA course at Ft Bliss. So I went back to school and had an MBA in about 20 months.
In town I was living in a nice two bedroom apartment. Soon I began to look around. I was newly divorced, had a two bedroom apartment so my daughters could visit. One night I met a young Mexican girl at one of the local apartment complex dances. She would not give me her name or number. I was able to find out where her friend worked. Soon I had her number, but before I could call three of us young captains were invited to a Mexican family birthday party. It turned out to be the brother of the girl I was looking for. I met her whole family that night. That was over 40 years ago. We were married in September 1973.
My next assignment was to Ft Hood, Texas as the operations officer for the 62nd Engineer Battalion (Construction). This was a different kind of engineering with bigger equipment. About that time the Army decided to convert Construction Battalions to Combat Heavy. Again this was a very interesting and learning experience. We were one of the first combat heavy units tested in the Army. The battalion passed with flying colors, but my S3 section did not pass. I contested the evaluator. I ask one question. How could every section of the battalion pass and my section fail, when I was directing all of those units. The Corps Engineer changed the evaluation. He even sent me to Ft Belvoir to the Engineer Dinner and Conference to lecture on the Combat Heavy training.
In 1965 I had changed from Reserve to Regular Army. In 1976, I was non selected for Regular Army promotion. The reason that I was not selected was one efficiency report given to me while at Ft Bliss. One Colonel did not like me, and gave me an average report. That was enough to separate me from other officers. One year later, I was again passed over, and was soon to be required to leave active duty. This was the reduction of the Army from its Vietnam strength.
During my final physical, they found a small black mole that was not as should be. Within about 30 minutes it had been removed. Three days later they called me in and told me I had a bad cancer and they would operate. So they cut a three quarter inch deep and the size of a dinner plate section out of my back. Today it would have been much smaller. The doctor told my wife I had a 30% chance of living. My wife was then in worse shape than me mentally. We had just had a daughter. That was 1978, and I did beat the odds.
My last three months in the Active Army were as a night duty officer at Corps Headquarters. This allowed me a lot of time to job hunt in a fairly tight job market. I finally was able to get a job with Brown and Root Constructors and Engineers in Houston. So in May 1978 we moved to Friendswood south of Houston and my first project was the construction of a petrochemical plant at Chocolate Bayou just south of Alvin, Texas and 10 miles from our new house. Another great job. From 1978 to 1986 I moved up to project controls manager but then the construction died and I was one of the last laid off.
In 1978 I also joined the 75 Maneuver Area Command, US Army Reserve, as an Operations Officer. In my first 6 months in the reserve I earned a Meritorious Service Medal for recommendations that I had made and training that I had conducted. It may have also caused me not to be able to make full colonel. I had again made a colonel mad, and he later made general and was over me. But I did have fun in the reserve for 10 years. We trained units all over the central area of the United States. From Michigan to Louisiana and Texas to Kentucky. We trained one weekend per month, but we worked a lot more. At least one weekend a month we flew to a reserve site and trained from Battalion to Division and One Engineer Command. Great duty, and we met a lot of great people. Many I had trained as lieutenants at Ft Belvoir. Brown & Root supported the Reserve, so I had no problems between civilian and military jobs.
At Brown and Root, I worked on several petrochemical projects, a coal mine project, a major highway project and the Libyan Great Man Made River Project. I even went to London to transfer this project to our overseas office when we were no longer able to work with the Libyans due to US policy. Again this was a great company and a great job. Had one of my great bosses not died I might have gone on up in Brown & Root. One of my first jobs at Brown & Root was to escort Herman Brown around one of our job sites. He was one of the founders of Brown & Root and a member of the board of directors of Halliburton.
In 1986, I was put into a very bad job market. My wife had a small Boot company, and I ran that while looking for a new job. I was out of work for seven months. I then went to work with another engineer company Jacobs Engineering on a project in Bishop Texas. The job was great and the company excellent, but the job only lasted a year. I then found a job with Gulf Interstate Engineers a pipeline company. This job lasted about a year and one half. Great job, good people and good projects. Again I was laid off because we had no projects.
Then came another 8 months of being laid off. This time I had to use up our savings, and we were getting close to loosing our home. My daughter born in 1975 was close to graduation in Friendswood. I finally found a 6 month job in China. That saved our house. I left my wife of daughter and went to Dalian China to work in a shipyard on an offshore quarters module for Philips Petroleum. Another great job, with great people. The contract I had was not great, but after 6 months they told me I could stay for another year. I told my wife to come on over, and we had a ball living in the Holiday Inn. Pay was good, and we were able to live off of our per diem and saved our total salary. We built two quarters modules and floated both to the south China Sea. My wife and I were able to see a lot of China and even brought our daughter over for a visit.
We left China in May 1995 and I decided that I had worked enough. I was able to draw a military retirement and social security. My wife did not know where she wanted to live so we went to El Paso to live while we made up our minds. After a few months we took fostering training, planning to foster children. The first group we got was three boys, 5, 3, and 11 months. The judge talked us into adopting those boys. Of course, the house we had was overlooking Jurez. All local walls in the neighborhood were tagged. We decided to move to the area of trees, hills and rivers. The Texas Hill Country.
On line we found houses in Fredericksburg and Kerrville, Texas. Next we visited and on seeing some foundation problems with the house in Fredericksburg, we decided that we would buy the house in Kerr County. It had a pool and a tennis court and a nice big yard. It was definitely boys country. Soon we were moving. The boys were entered in school, except for the two youngest. The first thing we did was pool proof the boys. Within days they all could swim like fish. Even the one year old, could jump off the diving board and swim to the ladder or to the steps. He even knew how to float on his back. The dogs were also pool proofed. The oldest did later die, but only because someone had left the water hose in the pool and she could not understand what it was or how to get around it. When she tired she drowned. If the hose had not been there, she would have found the steps and would have crawled out.
The boys thrived in Ingram schools. They did well in Little League, Tae Kwan Doe, Boy Scouts and school. There mother had the two younger boys reading at three, and had the older son reading as well. Life was good. Over time each boy has shown his own personality and had his own problems. The oldest who was five when we moved to Kerrville is now twenty and a Lance Corporal in the Marines. The second is soon to be 18 and will graduate. He is smart, but too smart. The youngest has just entered High School and is working on his Life rank in Scouting. Over the years I have had three daughters, a single daughter and three sons. Yes I have learned a lot.
In 2000 I was a singer in Barbershop style singing. My mother was dying and she gave me a list with 20 names and asked me to do the family genealogy. I quickly ran down those twenty names and added a few hundred more of family for each. From that point on it just kept growing. My father, had died in 1975 and his line was harder. One night, I was looking for my Grandfather’s death certificate in Florida records on line. Instead I found a request for Civil War Pension. Checking a few census records, it did not take long to prove that it was my Great Grandfather. In time I tied him to the 6th Texas Cavalry Regiment, Ross’ Brigade and the Texas Rangers. Of course I now know his Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather and maybe several more levels.
Now some one ask where I get all my information all they need to do is look at where I have been and what I have done. Civil War history is easy because I was in the Army for 32 years. Genealogy is easy because I understand computers. I am not the best detail researcher, but when I look at my past, it has always been that way. I was not good at finishing, but I could do well in getting things built and running. I left the fine tuning to others. Blogs may be the same. I got this one up and running with no problems, but it is a pain to maintain. I have allowed more than 263,000 comments or the more than 286,000 received. I probably should have deleted another 60,000 of spam or more, but I gather that some of the visitors enjoy the spam more than the blog. I can live with that even though I do not understand it.
In researching my Great Grandfather and his brother, I learned a lot about all of the 6th Texas Cavalry. Others suggested that I read the books on the 3rd, 6th and 9th Texas. This I did and I learned a lot about the brigade. Finally a book was written on the Legion (27th Texas Cavalry). It did not answer all my problems, but it did fill in a lot. Stephen Kirk has since written books on the 6th, 9th and the Brigade. Along with the data I have collected and read, I put up my web site. The Blog came later. When I began to do detail rosters, I started the blog. The 27th Rosters were first, because what existed was scrambled. As I worked through each company, I learned more and more. I began to fill in around the data provided by Haley in his book on the Legion. I understood things that are in the records that are not explained. How did I do this? Basically I had become an expert on each regiment. I still have a lot to learn, but it gives me goals for the future. I need to complete the rosters for the 6th Texas. Do the rosters for the 9th Texas and redo the rosters for the 3rd Texas. Then I might be ready to write a book. All of the data is not on line. There were stories told a brigade reunions that are in the documents of those reunions. I need to find the records of the courts marshals and admin. I would like to know more about the flags. I definitely need to find our and add the artillery and other support that helped the brigade in battle. No, I do not know everything, but now you may know how I get a lot of the information.
Become an expert and you can do the same. Note, you do not know everything when you are an expert.