During the military draft of 1966, Morton was caught by surprise. He was brought up to speed for Vietnam. He talks about his time in training and how he moved upwards in the military. Since he was enlisted, advances have been made in military training and profession, but certain similarities still exist. In one of the chapters, there is mention of bayonet training and how it comes secondary to learning how to clean the latrine because cleaning it well meant free time on Sunday, which the soldiers appreciated more than you’d think possible.
In Reluctant Lieutenant: From Basic to OCS in the Sixties, Jerry Morton recounts his personal experience of basic training and drills while in the Old Army. Anyone who has been a part of basic training or Officer Candidate School can relate to his stroll down memory lane. In this book, you learn a lot about the rushed drafting of soldiers for Vietnam. It makes you wonder whether they had sufficient training to survive the war but that question is not directly answered in the book. However, reading between the lines should provide you with answers to many pressing questions. An important detail Morton indirectly discusses is the social molding each soldier undergoes during training. He also divulges quite a bit about target practice, and how training was conducted using traditional bullseye targets while they would be tested with shooting camouflaged targets. According to him, the test should have been similar to the training. Morton soldiered through his basic training and graduated Officer Candidate School to become a commissioned officer. He spent the rest of his life in Fort Bragg, North Carolina while teaching at JFK Warfare School and penning his experiences in the Army.
This book is a retelling of Morton’s own life events and should help readers understand how we are all a product of our own unique experiences. It is told in crisp and beautiful prose and never lacking insights into life. The author allows values of resilience, perseverance, and humanity to shine through the narrative, providing episodes that are revelatory of military experience, entertaining, and thought-provoking. It is brilliantly written and filled with nuggets of wisdom.