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Monterey Fort Ord
By Stephen B. Ward
There then 1966. Warm summer evening. Driving through Big Sur. With two blondes. In a convertible. Up from Santa Barbara. On our way to SF. Road trip. College kids.
There then the convoy. Out of Fort Ord. A long one. Deuce and a halfs. Clogging the highway. MP jeeps buzzing around. Working to keep it from stretching out. Discouraging people from wanting to pass.
We play cat and mouse. The convoy is in our way. There is no other traffic. We pass and pass. Truck after truck. With their side canvases rolled all the way up. Exposing infantry. Full combat gear. Boys turning and looking down at us as we come up. Expressionless. On their way to Travis. On their way to Vietnam. In less than 24.
We know there is a war on. Hippies are beginning to appear. We talk about our deferments. Comparing how much time we have left. Hoping it will be over by then. But it isn't yet. Those guys as proof.
We make it through. But now we were not as happy. Bothered that they hadn't waved back. At the teasing blondes. Who wouldn't at least whistle? Young men steeled for seriousness. We ourselves still naive. Shielded by our privilege. That is not keeping whiffs of unfairness from clinging to us as we leave them behind.
Stephen Ward was a 21-year-old college kid in 1966 who went on to refuse the draft.