I was a young farm boy in 1942 and wanted to serve my country. My dad took me to the Salina, Kansas, Army Recruiting Station to enlist in the Army Air Corps. A great number of young men were enlisting and being drafted. I took the physical and was told to return home and they would notify me when I was needed.
I received my notice to report at Fort Riley, Kansas, on September 26th. I hitchhiked there, arriving on the 25th, and was assigned a bed in the barracks. I thought I would be inducted in a day or two. The second evening a sergeant called my name and told me to report for KP at 3 the next morning. I told him I hadn't been sworn in yet. He said since I was still a civilian I wouldn't be required to pull KP. Then the same thing happened daily until October 1st.
By that time, I was getting discouraged and decided the Army didn't need me. I asked for and received a pass to go into Junction City. I didn't stop there but hitchhiked to Wichita, where my brother-in-law and sister lived. When I explained that the Army didn't need me they said I was over the hill and was a deserter. I said I wasn't over the hill as I was still a civilian, and I didn't believe the Army needed me.
My sister was frantic and was sure the Army would have me shot. I finally agreed to return to Fort Riley on October 4th. The first night I was back the sergeant came after me. Before he could say anything I asked him where he had been, because I had missed him. He told me he had been looking for me. Again he told me to report for KP, and I explained I hadn't been sworn in. He came after me for KP each evening until October 10th. I had decided if they didn't swear me in that day I was leaving again and not returning. At 4 p.m. I was lined up with ten men outside the barracks and sworn in. The sergeant found me again that evening and assigned me to KP. Right after he left I was called to the office and given an envelope with my records and told I would ship out the next morning. When I found the sergeant and told him I was leaving, I thought he would cry.
I may have the record for being the only one to go over the hill before I was inducted.
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.