To Our Readers

The buzz around the army base was that if the staff sergeant asked who in the company was able to drive, and you had a valid driver's license, you should volunteer. With a driving assignment you had nothing to worry about. Yeah, right.

Granted, it was not as though any of the soldiers could be put in harm's way on a military base neighboring Monterey, California. But what did we know? We were brand new draftees in our first days of basic training A driving assignment—as opposed to all-night guard duty followed by an early-morning lesson in grenade throwing—sounded like a smart choice. So a few of us stepped forward.

We were to drive a load of soldiers to and from their assigned posts. Simple enough. Everyone in my group piled into the back of the truck as I climbed into the driver's seat. That's when I noticed how much trouble I was in. The truck had a manual transmission. I had never driven anything with a manual transmission, let alone a two-and-a-half-ton truck filled with a dozen men. And I had thought my worries were over.

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June 14, 1999

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