On my last day of active duty in the Army, I dressed in my Class A uniform (“dress greens”), which was the only piece of “equipment” I was allowed to keep when clearing post. As I entered the mess hall, I felt the eyes of envy staring at me. I walked to the front of the chow line like I was the king of the world, and ordered eggs over easy, toast, and bacon, thinking to myself, “This time tomorrow I will not be here.” It was a day I never thought would come. During breakfast, other soldiers came up to wish me congratulations and good luck. I felt great!
After breakfast, I drove my ’61 Ford Sunliner convertible to main post to the finance office to turn in my military ID card. While I was there, the financial officer gave me an envelope and asked me to put my home address on it. (Three years later, at the end of my inactive duty, they used that envelope to mail me my honorable discharge.) After I handed over my ID card, he issued my last pay and a pay voucher indicating how much the Army owed me for things like leave time that I hadn’t used.
From there, I drove back to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of the 2nd of the 17th. I wasn’t too sure how to get back to Philadelphia from Fort Campbell, but there was a PFC who lived in Willow Grove, PA who had just recently driven down to Fort Campbell and knew the way back. It just so happened he was headed out on leave at the same time that I was getting out of the service, so we made arrangements with the 1st Sergeant to leave together. We left Fort Campbell around 9 or 10am. It was July 21, 1967, a Friday morning. I arrived at my house at 61 King Avenue in Folcroft at 8am the next morning, parked out front, went inside, lay down on the couch and fell asleep. When I awoke, my thoughts of the previous day were fulfilled; I had gained my independence from the military.