Thursday, August 11, 2016

"It's Up to You: Basic Combat Training": Army film recall the experience of getting drafted during the Vietnam War

It’s Up to You: Basic Combat Training”  is a 28 minute film part of “The Big Picture”, apparently shot mostly in 1966, and shown to some troops in 1967 during the era of the Vietnam War draft. The title refers to the challenge of getting through the first eight weeks and graduating from Basic.  The protagonist is in AIT and looking back (which means he "got infantry").

I took Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, SC from Feb. 8 until late May 1968 (I spent some time in the infirmary and got recycled through Special Training Company, adding six weeks to the whole experience).  The scenery does not look like Fort Jackson; but the film comes from the “Third Army” which is HQ-ed in S.C., so I presume this was filmed at Fort Gordon, GA, nearby. In a few scenes there is light snow in the ground, and then film seems to have been shot in winter in the South.   The recruits in the film arrive by train, but we arrived by bus from Richmond.

The training shown does not quite jive with the details that I experienced (for example here) , from my own DADT-III book).  I don’t recall a long confidence course at the end, or throwing grenades during bivouac infiltration.  I recall the G-3 testing, but I don’t think we had a chemical weapons test (where reagents are placed in a certain sequence on the back of the hand).  I do recall the pugil sticks, and the hand-to-hand (which was only moderately “intimate”), and certainly the inspections.

The film starts with a curious shot of chickens -- referring to the "Chickenman", of Saturday morning cartoons of the period, and that is that is what I was called.

You can also try "Stay Alert, Stay Alive", an Army training film for Vietnam (23 min). 

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