Johnny Crawford served in the US Army from December 1965 to December 1967. After Basic Training in Fort Bliss, Texas, he was assigned to the Army Pictorial Center in New York, working on the production of training films. His family recently found letters and press clippings from those years, in his vast collection of memorabilia.
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The letters have been transcribed for ease of reading.
Dec 21, 1965 — Ft. Bliss, Texas
Well, I just had my first supper from Uncle Sam’s famous kitchen. I guess it was the first steak I’ve ever eaten, ‘cause I know I’ve never had anything like it before! However I just stuck to the tenderest portions: the bone. I guess Uncle Sam figures that the only way he can keep our minds off Viet Nam is by having us worry whether or not we’ll live thru the next meal. What a way to have to support Bob Hope! — Johnny
Weds, Dec. 22, 1965
Only my second day out in the wild west (Fort Bliss, Tex) with the U.S. Army—yet by 8:30 this morning I’d already been scalped! ‘Course Uncle Sam is responsible these days. Originally this chore was performed by the Indians for free. But Uncle Sam loused up that deal for good when he sent them all to reservations. However, it is a comfort to know that the tools of the trade and the technique of the barbers have improved considerably since then. The only part of the haircut that seems not to have changed is the enthusiasm of the attacker. Uncle Sam may still be an uncle to you—but I’m convinced he’s adopted me! RA19875051
Thurs, Dec 23, 1965
Uncle Daddy Sam gave me my first xmas present today — $250 worth of uniform. At first I wondered how he could put that much money into one soldier’s clothes — but after only a few hundred yards of hauling your new duffle bag you’d gladly give that much just to have it disappear. We also received our dog tags today. These are hung from the neck to show who your master is in case you get lost or separated from him. However these are highly imaginative for it’s surprising how much Uncle Sam Daddy Sam master seems to value our presence! Pvt. Johnny
Dec 24, Fri. 1965
Every day Uncle Sam has got a new surprise up his sleeve for us trainees. Today he shot us. The purpose being to improve our health. Now I realize how odd that may sound even for Uncle Sam who’s always been known to do humorous things. But the truth is he worries about us quite a bit. Today he stood us before the firing squad and then we were shot in both arms until numb (If you’ve ever stuck pigs in the slaughter house — there’s a job in the Army for you!) with serums that are supposedly for the purpose of killing germs. If they kill us, too, it’s just a coincidence. Right now we’re not sure they won’t, but if you hear from me tomorrow — you can be pretty sure I survived. Pvt. John
Wed, 16 Feb 1966
I received my orders today from Uncle Sam and they are as follows: I am to report at 1700 hours (5pm) on Mar. 5th (after a 14 day leave) to the ARMY PICTORIAL CENTER, Long Island City, New York for training as an apprentice in the position of Television Production Specialist. I could perform a variety of duties involved in production of live and recorded television presentations for training, information, medical and morale purposes. I will be arriving in Los Angeles aboard the American Airlines flight #2521 Saturday, February 19th at approximately 3:15pm along with a number of other B.C.T. graduates from my company here at Bliss. By the way Marcellino Lopez (Angels’ rookie pitcher last season) is in my platoon and we’re real good friends. He’s from Guadalajara, Mexico & is 19. G.I. John