Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ft. Dix, New Jersey, February 1960

Reading my blog roll this morning, the general subject seems to be the snow.  Well, we've had our fair share here in LSD (Lower Slower Delaware) but this time we dodged a snow storm.  While it's still gray and cold outside, the snow is gone, thank goodness.

All this snow reminds me of this time exactly fifty-one years ago.  While there are a lot of things I've forgotten in the past fifty-one years (A LOT!), something I will never forget.  

January 27th, 1960 is the date I got on a Trailways bus out of Philadelphia and with millions of butterflies in my stomach, I headed to the Great Unknown.  The Great Unknown this time was Ft. Dix, New Jersey.  I was about to begin basic training.  

To say that I was nervous would be a massive understatement.  My legs were wobbling when I piled off that Trailways bus at the bus depot in Ft. Dix.

I won't go into all the details of that first day in this posting, I'll save that for a future posting.  In fact I'll save that for several future postings because I remember EVERYTHING ABOUT THOSE EIGHT WEEKS.  Every event is imbedded in my brain including my Serial Number RA 13 678 593 (see, I remember it to this day).  That was how we identified ourselves.  First name?  Forget it.  My name after I got off that bus was "F__cking Trainee":

Anyway, the point of this posting is that I only have one official mug shot of my time in the Army.  It was taken along with my fellow F__cking Trainees" (we were further identified by out last names only).  Most of my fellow sufferers were Army reservists and a few draftees.  Actually I was part of an elite group in basic training.  I was an "RA" which stood for Regular Army.  We always got to go first in line for mess hall and we were usually last to be chosen for the really dirty jobs.  Other than that, we were required to rise and shine at 2:30 am in the morning to stand out in the cold and WAIT.

Back to the point of this posting.  You will see a page of photos.  Look at the bottom row, second from the left.  That is yours truly.  To my left was my friend Michael Tine from Massachusetts.  Oh yes, this was in the Fifties Era when everyone was placed alphabetically.  

I remember the day they herded us in to have our picture taken.  I was beside myself because I felt I needed a haircut and I didn't have a chance to get one.  Our pictures were taken and I was given the opportunity to purchase them.  I passed. I assumed I would have another chance later when a better picture was taken.  Guess what?  In my three years in the Army I never had another official portrait picture taken.  I didn't even think about it until I got out.  Sure, I had plenty of candid photos of myself.  Well, really not that many but enough.  But I never again had that iconic picture taken.  You know, the one they show in the newspaper when you're killed in action.

So, the only official Army picture I have of me is the one from our basic training yearbook.  Actually, in a way it's good because seeing all the other guys I took basic training with, brings back fond memories.  Really, it does.  Basic Training and my three years in the Army were the best three years of my life.  If I wasn't gay I would have made a career out of the service.  But, you know what the rules were Back Then.

So there it is, Private Ronald Walter Tipton, F--king Trainee.  


Ron said...

By the way, I still have that hat. It's in my closet. Go ahead, call me a Pack Rat. In fact, I still have the same uniform. It fits, almost. It's just a "tad" snug around the waist.

Vương Tử Trực said...

What do you mean millions of butterflies in your stomach?

Ron said...


"Butterflies in my stomach" is an English term meaning that I am nervous. My stomach feels like it has butterflies in it. I'm sure you have felt that way at one time or another of your life. Haven't you?

Rick said...

It's never too late to start up a new career, now that they've abolished DADT.

Larry, aka The Kid and The Old Goat said...


Man, you have a long history of not smiling in pictures.

I hope you didn't roll your eyes at the DI when he called you that.


Tiger Tsuki said...

I almost joined the Navy in my early 20's because I couldn't fund a job in my chosen profession of the time (Computer Programming), but I scored so well on their aptitude test that they wanted me to work on nuclear reactors instead! I passed. Hell no! I won't glow! ;)

I often wonder how different my life would have been had I joined...

Mark said...

I almost joined the Marines in 1987 but my Mommy said "NO!" That was it!
I like that picture of you by the way. m.

Ron said...


Ha! I would never go back into the Army now. Remember? I joined so I wouldn't get shot at or shot at anybody. My new career now, after 37 years in banking, is hotel front desk clerk. The two owners of the hotel were I work are both gay. My gayness isn't a factor where I work now. About time.

Ron said...


I almost joined the Navy too when I was 17 years old. The enlistment papers were even drawn up for me. All I had to do was sign them. However, at the last minute I changed my mind and joined the Army because by tour or duty would only have been for three years instead of four years. I've often wondered what my life would have been like if I hadn't changed my mind. It is fascinating to look back at decisions made in the past and wonder where I would be today had I made different decisions.

Ron said...


Yes, you're right. I do have a long history in not smiling for pictures. I guess I've had a lot on my mind. Serious stuff.

Ron said...

I could see you as a Marine. Oh yeah.

Ur-spo said...

What a memory; thank you for sharing your story with us all.

Ron said...

I've forgotten a lot Spo, but I remember almost every day of my eight weeks of basic training. Probably because that time was such a drastic change in my life. Joining the Army was the best decision I ever made in my life.

Cubby said...

I totally do not recognize you. Where did you spend your three years?

Ron said...

I stated it in my blog posting. I spend 8 weeks at Ft. Dix, 2 months at Ft. Devens, Mass, and 2 1/2 years plus at Ft. Meade, Maryland. I never did get to go overseas which was one of the main reasons I joined the Army. Both of my brothers, who did not want to go overseas, both went to Germany. Both were MP's.

Cubby said...

Dammit, I even read your post a second time to see if that info was in there, and I missed it both times. Piss.

Ron said...

My apologies Cubby. That information was in a previous blog. I thought I put it in this blog but I've been trying to shorten the length of my blogs. I can go on and on as you have probably have noticed.

Dimas Martinez said...

Hi Ron,

My name is Dimas Martinez and i am trying to help my father reconnect with some of his army buddies from Fort Dix but in 1962. If there is any help you can provide or any links to websites that have information in regards to Fort Dix in 1962 it would be appreciated. My father laughed very hard when he read the comment about F***ing Trainee. Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Ron, by the looks of the page from your basic training book, I was in the same company. Was it Lima Co, 2nd TR., 29 Nov 59 to 12 Feb 60?
I was in 3rd Plt.
Dick Lockert

Ron said...


Thanks for your comment. So your father remembers the "F**ing Trainee" greetings? After I was done Basic Training I thought that was my name!
I'm sorry but I can't help you with information about your father's Army buddies. I was at Ft. Dix, New Jersey from January 27th 1960 to the end of March 1960 (I don't remember the exact date) at which time I completed my Basic Training.
I was in F Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Training Regiment.

Good luck in your search,

Ron Tipton

Ron said...


Thanks for your comment! When I took Basic Training I was in F Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Training Regiment from the beginning of February 1960 (I was in the Reception Company for one week beginning January 27th, 1960). I ended my Basic Training at the end of March.

I have a yearbook from my Basic Training but I can't locate it right now. I'll check and see if your name is in there. I doubt it though, I think I was the in the next training company. Did you have a yearbook?

Ron Tipton

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Ron said...


Thank you for your generous compliment. Comments like you encourage me.

Have a great day!


Anonymous said...

lookin for my brothers army pic from 1960 frank moran

Anonymous said...

November Co. 1964-66 at Ft.Dix was a horror show as Elenore Roosevelt put in her column!!!When they dumped us off from buses,they gave us cotton clothes in cold /ice & snow/knee's with Osteoarthritis as result rest of our lives from being made to have knee's on ice all day on drill fields/drill character's,thrown out of Army when they tore the old wood barracks down with no heat,meningitis,shooting's,etc.and not a record could be found???Let's call a spade a spade!!!!!!