If you grew up in a small town, you know what I mean when I say that there isn't much of a future for someone unless they move out of that small town or go to work for the biggest employer around. And small town Larned, Kansas was no exception. The biggest employer in the area was the Larned State Hospital and I did not have an interest or the skill set to go to work there (Okay, you will see in a future blog post that I did eventually go to work at the State Hospital and I will also talk about other family members who also worked there at one time or another.)!
So, fresh out of high school in 1972, I went to work at the local newspaper, The Tiller and Toiler (I will talk more about this, as well, in a future blog) and small town life continued.
I was never really satisfied with the direction my life was taking.
Fast forward to 1976. With my dissatisfaction continuing to grow I decided it was time to do something different. And that decision left my parents in shock. Shy, little me, making such a stupendous decision! I'm not sure they thought I would go through with it or would make it through what was involved with the decision I made. But, I proved them wrong!!
On 17 Feb 1976, I enlisted in HHB (-Det 1) 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard, stationed at the National Guard Armory in Larned, Kansas. I was their first female enlistee! (Just a side note: I weighed 98 pounds at the time of my enlistment physical. They had to put rocks in my pockets so that I would make the weight requirement for enlistment.)
I enlisted as a PV1 (E1) and was scheduled to go to basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina (not Fort Benning, Georgia as stated in the photo) on 30 July 1976. I enlisted as a Personnel Records Specialist and because of my previous work experience I did not have to go to any technical training. While I was at basic training I kept a diary and when I returned to work at the Tiller and Toiler, I wrote a series of articles on my experience that I will share in later posts.
Little did I know that the decision I made to join the military would have such a huge impact on my life!