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From Pin Stripes to Army Stripes

Michael Riles of Chicago decided to take his B.A. in History and "ask not what his country could do for him, but what he could do for his country" by joining the Army in 1977 at age 26, this after finishing college and working for three years with an Attila the Hun corporate mindset during the last Great Recession of 1973-1974.

The hilarious antics of what he experienced in basic training and AIT are revealed along with unforgettable characters that became "the Disco Army" of the 70's. The bonds he forms are indelible as are the hilarious and sobering stories. He is sent to what was West Berlin after being recruited by the NSA due to his command of Russian having grown up with them in Chicago. He bumps in to old Nazi's, Russian soldiers who would sell their mothers for Aerosmith and Pink Floyd records, Germans still moaning the loss of loved ones, recalcitrant German youth who wondered why we still occupied the country along with German people with hearts of gold and their head's glued on straight knowing full well why we were there.

Michael works at a covert fixed site mission during the height of the Solidarity rebellion in Poland and the efforts expended to keep Russia from pouncing on them the way they did in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 50's and 60's. He is later assigned to a British unit in Germany where he and his "lads" orchestrate a "payback" in the form of a ruse that nearly could have sparked an international incident in 1978 after witnessing an East German girl being machine gunned trying to escape the Communist sector. Michael later is promoted to Sergeant and, while on leave, meets the love of his live while on a vacation tour to Vienna, Austria. He and his wife Elizabeth will have a son and return home to Chicago to start life anew, yet a life that contains countless memories of what he calls both then, and now, the best four years of his life.