Earl M. Foster

Master Sergeant · US Army · Korean War


Registering for the Selective Service was mandatory in the 1940s. Once signed in, a young man was subject to being called up for service just about anytime armed forces were in need.

When he reached eighteen, Earl Foster was all set to go into the Army as a draftee. Earl’s older brother Lee had already had a year in college. The Foster brothers just knew one of them was going to war. They decided that Lee would enlist while Earl stayed back to help with running the family farm near York.

When WWII ended, the Draft Board relaxed a little… by 1950 however, the sabers of war were again rattling. Early in 1950s Earl was notified he was to go to Omaha for a physical exam at the Armed Forces Induction Center. He hadn’t been drafted officially, but this step was taken care of.

The following October, he boarded a troop train for Fort Riley, Kansas. There, he and others obtained uniforms, a haircut, and a little peek at what was to come. The BNGs (Brand New Guys) were available for normal duties as well. Earl was on KP for a day. The next day was his birthday. Sure enough, as Earl was relaxing on his bunk, someone from the mess hall came asking him to help another day!

After being on hold for a couple of weeks, he and many of his new best friends boarded a train for a three-day trip to Camp Cook, California. (This site became Vandenberg Air Force Base.)

Yes, the Sergeant wearing a funny looking hat, met them at the gate. The Sergeant introduced the recruits to new terms and new ways of saying things! In that most of the new men already had their clothing issues and haircuts, training could get underway fairly soon.

There was an issue with one of the new soldiers. He was inept at personal hygiene. It turned out that his mother actually bathed him until the day he left. When he became an Army trainee, he hadn’t quite made it to the shower for a few days. Some of the other guys showed him all about a scrub brush and soap. Earl thought it taught the man a lesson. This particular person didn’t know what to do most of the time and became considered to be useless.

Once the platoon filled the barracks, another smaller group came into the same rooms so this was a cramped place to live.

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