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Life in George Company was slow duty. Most of it was walking guard duty, interspersed with sitting guard duty at our two outposts. One of those outposts was thirty yards from a small wooden bridge. On the other side of the bridge was North Korea. Russians were on duty then: friendly people with flat oriental faces, all of them claiming to be from Moscow. We got along with them well enough to exchange weapons for examination. Their sniperscope-equipped rifles and submachine guns clearly outclassed our M1 Garrand rifles. We'd sometimes speculate on how soon they could drive us the length of Korea into the sea. Guesses ranged from one day to three days. Our morale was not high.

The captain of our company assigned me to write about the work that George Company was doing on the 38th parallel, to be published in the regimental newspaper. I wrote what I thought was a pretty good article, and handed it in. He called me in the following day. After a lot of beating around the bush, I learned that he was dissatisfied with the role I had given him in the work the company was doing, which, as far as I could see, was walking its guard posts. I took the article back and redid it. He still wasn't satisfied. I expanded his role in my by now entirely imaginary account. He still didn't like it. I told him I had done my best and could do no more. He asked me if I really meant that. I said I did. He dismissed me.

A week later, I had gone outside of the company area to give my laundry to the Korean washerwomen. This was something we always did, without a pass. When I got back, I learned that a search had been instituted for me. I had been posted absent without leave, and had my choice of seven days company punishment or a trial by court martial.

So I dug ice out of the company ditch systems for seven days.

In Seoul I was doing what I had done in high school---playing in the band, and being paid for it. With my private's money and what I made playing officer's dances, I was earning the equivalent of a major's pay. This continued until my time was up and I was sent home.

I arrived in northern California, got my honorable discharge, and continued playing band dates. Finally I returned to New Jersey, applied at NYU, was accepted and started classes in the fall.

By taking courses summer as well as winter, I managed to graduate in two and a half years, with a new wife---Barbara Scadron---whom I had met in a writing class given at NYU by Irwin Shaw---and a new baby. I hadn't exactly planned all this, but it happened. I found a job at Wright Aeronautical in New Jersey, rented an apartment in Ridgefield Park, and tried to get back to writing short stories.
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Robert Sheckley's Autobiography

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