Empty Harness
by John Cleckner

The 325th Airborne Battle Group was tasked for a 6 month TDY to Ft Benning and elsewhere to do multiple tasks.  Being a new guy I have no idea whether it had ever been done before.  We left Ft. Bragg on April 1, 1958 and convoyed to Ft Benning.  While there we supported the National Rifle and Pistol Matches that year at Benning as opposed to Camp Perry.  We trained College ROTC Students during Summer Camp and put a Platoon of Marine Force Recon through jump school.  We also kicked ass and took every Post Sporting Event on Ft. Benning for a 6 month period.

I experience my first Prop Blast as an enlisted slug taking care of Drunk Officers.

For you old heads, Col Gettys (Later to Command the Americal Division in VN) was the 325 CO.  JJ Clark was XO of HQ&HQ, Cpt. Sweet was CO, and the most famous of all was, Cpt. Saluche (sp) (the baddest ass Company Commander in the 82 Abn Division) Commanded B Company.  Blood Burns, by the way, was a Corporal in the 82nd Jump School.

While at Benning one of our Companies, "B" Company , Riggers, and Hqrs & Hqrs Commo personnel and other action guys went into English AFB La.  We jumped into a combined operation as a separate Airborne Company and I was the guy with the 2 niner 2  and radio, first in the door with a GP bag bigger than I was, and that fucking reserve was choking my Adams apple.  (By the way, back in those days a good commo man could put up the antenna all by himself.)

We went into shit city, (Ft Polk, La) and got into one hellova fight with a Bn of Tankers out of Ft. Hood,  (this was after watching a movie called "From Here To Eternity")  The first punches were thrown by them, then a guy in whites, who happened to be a "Spoon" and the Middle Weight Champion of the 82nd Abn Div. knocked out 6 guys with six punches.  We kicked their asses and the next day Cpt. Saluche had us all in formation ready to ripe our heads off telling us that our little Company with it's Hqrs augmentation kick the shit out of a Battalion of TANKERS and put over 20 of them in the Hospital.

We did our thing the next day and jumped a couple of times transitioning from fixed wing to helicopters for the first time in my short life.  I was scared shitless.   Then off to Panama for a continuation of this exercise.  Thank god I was not the guy in the door going into that one.  As SGM Edge said, this poor devil went out and all they found was some harness.  Lots of very big fish with sharp teeth.  Jumped on an AF Runway (CRS) on the Pacific side.  More that one hit the water, but there were shark nets for the rest.. Thanks SGM for the Deja vu all over again.