From: John Hamilton...
I was working in Rosenberg Library, but I was preparing to quit
because I had been picked to be the ROTC battalion commander the
previous May. Our professor of military science the year before was MAJ
William Bonnstetter, who had left to serve a tour as a South Vietnamese
Army advisor that summer. MAJ William Michal, a retired Army major,
came in to take MAJ Bonnstetter's place. This was the first time the
Army shifted from active duty officers to retired officers to serve as
leadership for the Army Junior ROTC units. I had also been elected
drill team commander, so I had a busy year ahead.
I found LT.COL. Retired Bonnstetter years later, when I worked in the Army Military
Personnel Center in Washington, DC. We corresponded for years after
that, until he passed away last year. He was an infantry officer,
parachute and Ranger qualified. I followed in his footsteps -- infantry
officer, jump and Ranger schools, and assignments in the 82nd Airborne,
8th Mechanized, and 7th Light Infantry Divisions.
We still had real M1 rifles, M1 carbines, .45 caliber pistols, an M3A1 submachine
gun, an M1919 .30 caliber machine gun, and a 3.5 inch rocket launcher.
All real, all functional. We took the firing pins out of the weapons,
but the military cadre still had them and we put some of them back into
the rifles for salutes with blank rounds. Quite different from today;
most high school ROTC units have no weapons at all, not even
I hung out with Charles Ray, Mark and Jerry Isenberg, and a few others.
We weren't big social gadflies, but we had quite a lot of fun. I had
taken up surfing, too, but I wasn't very good at it. I had a Bing surfboard, 9ft 8 in. long.