My consultation right before the end of Basic Training went like this:
“Good morning, recruit. I am Lt. Cody.” Oddly, he had blond hair that I imagined was somewhat unruly when not cut short for the military.
“Good morning, Sir. I noticed your first name is William. Any relation?”
“Why yes. My Great Grandfather was the main Buffalo Bill.”
“Unbelievable,” I offered. I thought to myself.. This will go well.
“Yes, you can imagine… I’ve heard every variety of response. I hope to make my own way. Looks like some action with Viet Nam is inevitable.”
“Some of us are dreading that day. Some civilians are, actually, objecting to any involvement.” I responded, as if we were comfortable with each other.
“The military follows orders.” He was a little more abrupt.
“Back to you.”
“During these weeks of training, paperwork is scrutinized, so recruits can be assigned to appropriate military functions and departments. Tell me more about this school, you last attended.”
I began with the obvious. “Well, the Conservatory is an environment for the advanced study of music. When studies are completed and absorbed, you are a musician.”
“So a trumpet player might have attended a school like this?” He tried to be knowledgeable.
My chance here for a ”Teaching Moment.” “Generally, a trumpet player is one who works, or plays, the trumpet. It doesn’t make him a musician, literally. It just makes him a trumpet player…No small achievement. A musician is, in the most literal sense, one whose knowledge encompasses all things musical. He would be able to play an instrument of his choosing — after he learned to ‘work it.’ He would be able to compose, conduct, orchestrate scores for the orchestra, etc. There are many ‘specialties’ within the field.”
His eyes were glassing over. “That’s interesting. What was the last project you were working on in school?” He was digging for more.
This will clinch it for me, I thought.
“I was finishing work on an original 6 to 8 minute piece for orchestra. About 60 – 80 musicians. It involved composing, orchestrating, scoring…and finding an orchestra to help with corrections, practice, and play it. Something I am hoping to continue in the Service.” I hoped the hint had struck a chord, so to speak.
In a few days, my next assignment materialized…
After considering my extensive training as Composer and Conductor and after reviewing my experience as a Jazz/Pop saxophone performer, the Service, in a magnanimous gesture of SNAFU logic, assigned me to Advanced Infantry Training with the Fifth Infantry Division, Mechanized, in Colorado Springs at Fort Carson.