1-24  The First Twenty-Four
25-48  The Second Twenty-Four
49-72  The Third Twenty-Four
73-96  The Fourth Twenty-Four
97-120  The Fifth Twenty-Four
121-144  The Sixth Twenty-Four
145-168  The Seventh Twenty-Four
169-on  The Eighth Twenty-Four

49  Pure Michigan
50  Ah, Youth
51  Unlikely Friend
52  Golfballogy
54  Before/After Squared
55  Hawaiiana 1
56  Hawaiiana 2
57  Hawaiiana 3
58  A New Outlook
59  Hawaiiana 4
60  Crash Dummy
61  Dogs, Boards, Kids...
62  Photographic Treasures
63  Hawaiiana 5
64  My Comb is Crooked
65  Call Me A Doctor
66  Hawaiiana 6
67  Home for Christmas
68  Led By Words
69  Pono Bowls
70  Poppy Tour
71  An Invitation
72  Wunderkammer I




Once again other people had made decisions that would change the direction of my life.  Once again I was conflicted and could only guess whether it was good or bad.  Once again I just fell into line and did what I was told.

The battery commander had called me in to the orderly room to announce that I had been “selected” to attend the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course at the 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead) Academy in Hanau, Germany.  I was not regular Army – I had been drafted and went away kicking and screaming.  I expected that such a course would be gung-ho, spit-shine and major BS.  On the other hand, our normal duties in Germany in 1959 were mostly BO-O-ring, so this could be a welcome change.

Anyway, I hadn’t been given a choice, so I gathered up all the instructions and proceeded to get ready.  The Army was in process of some uniform changes, moving from the old brown class A uniform to the new “greens”.  However, I had not been issued the browns with the old Ike jacket when I was processed in, so I couldn’t conform to their list of what to bring.  I was delivered to Hanau with all the other authorized possessions at the appointed time.

The receiving authorities checked my belongings and were not pleased.  They were ready to reject me and send me back to my unit in Butzbach.  I don’t remember how this was resolved, but the Academy people and my unit people worked out some resolution and I was reluctantly allowed to stay.

The quarters assigned for this course were Spartan, but absolutely sparkling.  After 27 former classes had scrubbed, cleaned, waxed and polished every last square inch, it LOOKED like our maintenance activities would be trivial.  Think again.  Another building across the campus was being renovated, and guess who was conscribed to scrape paint?  We probably spent more time scraping paint than previous students had spent Brassoing the pipe fittings in the heads and on the radiators, and the hardware on the doors and windows.  Or maybe not.

The course consisted of a dozen topics, each of which included classwork, homework, testing and actual experience.  Possible points for these activities are listed in the table at right and total 1000.  However, instructors reserved the right to award extra points for exceptional performance at their discretion.

Leadership was subdivided into Capabilities 400 and Principles 65.  Students were given the opportunity to fill various roles for experience at leadership.  A student might be given the responsibility to march the group from one activity to another on a given day or to lead the evening paint scraping detail.  Each week someone was appointed to act as student commander and had a number of leadership responsibilities.





Methods of Instruction






Map Reading




Artillery Forward Observing




CBR Warfare


Physical Training


Dismounted Drill


Total Possible Points


I was appointed Student Commander for one week.  One of my duties was to meet the officer who was to conduct the weekly inspection and guide him from room to room.  When we got to my room I just about peed my pants.  The room was ready, I called my roommates to attention and the inspection began.  I happened to glance at my footlocker and saw that my comb was crooked – a definite gig!  I had used it just before the inspector arrived and was careless putting it back.  I stared at that comb all the while we were in the room – it’s a wonder I didn’t give it away.  Somehow the inspector missed it and I could breathe again.

Once during my tenure as Student Commander we had an afternoon review in preparation for a test the next day.  The review went on and on and suddenly I realized that it was chow time.  I raised my hand, was recognized, and using appropriate protocol said “Student Commander Sandin, sir, requesting permission to alert the mess hall to hold chow for this group.”  I was given permission and attended to it.

The next day there was a nice extra point award allocated to my account for that initiative.  My action was apparently viewed as taking responsibility for the welfare of “my” people.  Actually, I was very hungry, and with the pittance left to me by the Army after all the deductions, I really didn’t want to pay for my own dinner at the cafeteria.

To make a long story shorter, we all finished the course and got the results.  My report indicated a total of 996.4 points to beat the previous record.  Looking at it now, I see a couple of arithmetic errors or maybe transcription errors, but the total adjusted for these errors would still exceed the previous record.  The newspaper clipping tells the story.


 Final score


 Newspaper clipping

Not surprisingly, when I got back to my unit, the officers were delighted with me.  I got an official promotion and was also given the designation of acting sergeant.  The designation took me off the lists for KP and guard duty and moved me to Officer of the Day and Sergeant of the Guard.  Big deal?  Still had duties but they didn’t involve scrubbing trash cans or standing around in the weather trying to stay awake.  And I got to cut the chow line.

The surprising part was the attitude of my fellow draftees.  They viewed me as a gung ho turncoat and teased me unmercifully about 996.4!  It took me a while to make the transition to sergeant (leader of men), but the treatment of my fellows actually helped me to adapt to things like cutting the chow line and eating at the sergeant’s table in the back room of the mess hall.  The draftees did get to laugh at me because I also had to take a turn monitoring the extra duty details.  Trying to get a half dozen goof-offs to pull weeds or other menial tasks was more torture for the acting sergeant than for the guys.

So I finished out the balance of my conscription as a sergeant.  I had a lockable semi-private room (two-man) in the castle we used as a barracks.  My duties included more dignified activities and less menial.  I probably got more respect from the officers and definitely got more from the sergeants ‘cause I made their jobs easier.  And in the long run, I think I did better with the draftees because I could relate to their attitudes.  And then I was discharged.