Read about columnist Porky Cutter's adventures in basic training.

“I Want You for U.S. Army.” James Montgomery Flagg. American Treasures of the Library of Congress.
At about age 24, Bess and myself were living in Chanute, Kan., and were partners of Cutter & Dad Drilling Co. with my father. I was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for basic training.

So that Bess could be near me, Dad moved our 35-foot mobile home to a park near the base. We aren’t supposed to be able to see any of our family for the first eight weeks of training.

However, being Cutters, we seldom did things the standard way. Bess soon was able to get a job in the Service Club as a cashier. At that time, she didn’t know an officer from a sergeant or a recruit and couldn’t have cared less, treating everyone with the same friendly respect. It wasn’t long before she made many friends.

Many times Bess would come to the orderly room (head company office) and have some urgent need to see me. They would page me to come to the game room. Upon my arrival to the game room, Bess would be waiting. Many times the other recruits, being restricted to the area, would gather up change and send Bess across the street to another company area game room to purchase drinks and snacks from the machines there. Ours would be empty or broken, and we couldn’t leave the company area — but Bess could. At times, when a sergeant from that company saw Bess in their area, he even would help her carry the drinks and snacks back to our company area. Sergeants could do that.

Bess often was allowed to meet Porky during his breaks from practice on the firing range.
Sometimes Bess would come to the orderly room to see me and was advised I was on the firing range. Then the officer of the day would give her directions to get there. He advised her of our break times and that as long as she didn’t interfere with the training, the cadre (instructors) wouldn’t object. When arriving at the firing range at break time, the cadre would come to Bess’ pickup and want to listen to the ball games on the truck radio. Once the break was over, she would leave.

Usually, the officer of the day was confined to the orderly room for the whole week during his week’s duty — meaning he couldn’t go to the Service Club for that week. Knowing Bess was living off base, the officers would bribe her to purchase liquor and smuggle it to them. For this, they would give her special privileges to see me and sometimes even let me stay overnight with her in the guesthouse.

Once after marching in eight miles from the firing range, an announcement from the orderly room came over the loud speaker system: “Cutter, report to the mess hall immediately.” What did I do now … am I being put on KP (kitchen police)? I deposited my pack and rifle in their proper places and ran to the mess hall to report. There sat Bess having coffee with two officers.

The last week of our eight weeks of basic training we had to bivouac (sleep in tents) on the range near the floating bridges. I couldn’t see Bess for that whole week … yeah, right! While Bess was at work in the Service Club, a sergeant friend asked her if she would like to see me. Of course, she said yes. The sergeant gave her directions and told her to go out to the bivouac site on that Thursday evening, as it was payday. He told her to advise the guard on duty that she only had come to get my paycheck. Upon arriving in the evening, Bess found everyone partying, celebrating the next to the last evening before graduation. Almost everyone was somewhat drunk. I hadn’t had supper, and the mess sergeant was drunk. So Bess loaded me in the pickup, drove me back to the Service Club and cooked me a big hamburger steak and french fries. After eating, I returned to the bivouac area and of course, I hadn’t been missed.

At graduation, the commanding officer informed Porky he was the only person to go through basic training with his wife.
At our eight weeks basic training graduation, while standing in formation, I was advised by the commanding officer I was the only person ever to go through the United States Army’s basic training with his wife.

After graduation, I was sent right back to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. for combat engineers training and later to foreman engineers school.

At times, while I was in training for combat engineers, the orderly room officer would give Bess permission to see me. These were concerning some personal health and legal issues that needed to be addressed concerning our drilling business back home. She would go see the chaplain, and he would go to the orderly room and get me permission to leave for a time. Once while the chaplain was walking up the steps to the orderly room, one of the cadre announced, “We have company: it’s a captain … it’s a chaplain … Mrs. Cutter’s at it again.”

On Sundays, the chaplain would pick me up take me to church where I would meet Bess and after church, we would have the rest of the day together. One Sunday evening, we were running around in our Jeep and found a great hiding place on the base where no one bothered us. Later we went back during the day to see just where that place was. It was the backstop for the day-and-night firing range. Needless to say, we didn’t go back there.

Once I had graduated from foreman engineers school, I was to be sent to my duty destination. Since Bess and myself had given the duty officer a lot of headaches, he decided to send me to a place where wives couldn’t go. I asked him, “There are women there, aren’t there?” He told me that there were women there, but military wives couldn’t go. I told him, “Not a problem: My wife is a missionary, and she would be there.” He said he was going to see me on that boat to see if my wife did get there.

At 10 p.m. on the evening I was to be shipped out, I was advised my father was seriously ill, and my orders were cancelled.

While I was in the Army, I hated every minute of it. Today I look at the Army with a different view; I received some excellent training, and I wouldn’t take anything for the experience and memories I received.