November 22, 2007
Thoughts on Thanksgiving
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
I reported to the Army for active duty on November 19, 1963. In those days it was customary for new trainees to spend three days at a reception center where we were given tests and shots, issued our uniforms, and threatened with barbed-wire city if we screwed up. Part of the issue was our dress greens, or Class A uniform, and the Army took a surprising amount of care with these, tailoring them to fit, and then delivering them to our basic training companies where they would catch up with us.
We arrived at November Company, 4th Tng Rgt, Ft. Dix, New Jersey, on November 22, 1963, at just about the time that news of John Kennedy's assassination was beginning to spread. The United States of America, and the U.S. Army, simply shut down for a while. We were left in our barracks to spit-shine boots and polish the lacquer off brass belt buckles. And for some inconceivable reason, during that time, my Class A uniform arrived. No one elses', just mine.
Thanksgiving came, and the Fourth Regiment mess hall served a turkey dinner, but to get in the mess hall, you had to show up in a Class A uniform. No fatigues on Thanksgiving, men. Well, what the hell. I put on my new green suit, went to the mess hall, and ate myself stupid. The rest of November Company ate candy bars at the PX.
And to all of you, I hope that your Class A uniforms, in whatever form, show up in time for this Thanksgiving.