We were eight young soldiers with the Army far from our minds. Seven months earlier we had finished nine months of intensive Swahili training in Monterey, California, and, more recently, communications training in Massachusetts. We were on our way to a place half the way around the world, not Viet Nam; that alone was enough to quell any apprehension about an unknown place called Ethiopia. We were beginning an experience that would help bridge our growth from youth into manhood.
In the months after leaving the language school in Monterey, I only found small pieces of information about the place where we were about to spend eighteen months of our lives: Asmara, our destination, was the capital of Eritrea, a provence of Ethiopia; Ethiopia extended 1000 miles (1600 km) long and wide, the distance from Chicago to New Orleans; and Kagnew Station, the army post we were headed for was a communication station, part of our world-wide system of electronic telephone posts. Beyond this, curiosity and anticipation reigned. ...
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