Pvt. Ronald W. Tipton, 1960
Picture taken in living room of my best friend Larry's parents after I completed basic training
A few months ago when I was cleaning out my Mom's back room, I came across this letter I had written to her when I was taking Army basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. The letter is dated March 4, 1960.
I wrote many letters when I was in the Army but this is the only one that I have in my possession. It is interesting to read it and see my thinking fifty years ago.
Two areas in which I haven't changed much, determination and immaturity.
The area of determination is where I note that I had a cold but I decided not to go on sick call because that would almost insure that I would be recycled which was a term used for starting basic training all over again. I knew I didn't want to do that. I remember that cold I had. It was awful. The worst was when I was crawling with my elbows through the infiltration course on a cold, wet day with tracer bullets whizzing inches above my head and my nose running like a spigot. But the worst thing I remember about the infiltration course was that I got my brand new fatigue jacket caught on the barbed wire and tore a big strip of cloth out of the back. My gay gene was horrified that I damaged my new duds.
The area of immaturity was the joke I repeated to my parents. Reading it now it I can see where it isn't even funny. It's actually childish and immature (am I being redundant here)? But I thought at the time it was really funny. But then remember I was a 18 year old small town boy being exposed to the vulgarities of the world outside for the first time in my life.
Boy was I innocent in those days. Boy did I have a lot to learn.
Here is the letter. WARNING! This letter contains sexual references and cursing. If you're offended by such language and references please do not read the letter.
If I only knew what an adventure lay ahead for me, this small town, determined, immature kid from Downingtown, PA. But you know what? I wouldn't change a thing.
As I wind down this life, I'm looking back on my past years with the goal to accumulate and write my personal history in a book. This is my last goal in life.
My story may not be of interest to most other people but I do feel a need to put in writing my life experience. Maybe there is that one person like me way off in the future who will pick up this book and appreciate my retelling of my journey in life.
If for nothing else, when I leave I want to leave my version of events. And to leave a small footprint.
I am still determined and immature for which I make no excuses or apologies.
That is me.