The First Day
30" x 40"
Oil on Masonite
Fort Ord, California – March, 1967
Robert Milner – Winnesboro, Texas
David A. Wilson – Hickory, North Carolina
Joseph McKay – Whittier, California
Michael Cooper – Valdese, North Carolina
Terry W. Rogers – Las Vegas, Nevada
Ted Blair – Glennwood, Minnesota
Donald Overfield – Fairmont, California
Staff Sgt. Joshuaway Ashley, Drill Sergeant – Newark, N.J.
Private Michael E. Fox, Roster Guide – Ridgecrest, California
"Bewildered" is the word most often used to describe new recruits on their
first day at the Army Reception Center. They have come from everywhere;
from cities, farms, suburbs, from schools, jobs, or lives of leisure.
Some are eager for military training and achievement; some would rather be
Eager, frightened, curious or resistant. All are at first lost in a
strange world with new rules,
new goals, and instant discipline. Each struggles with loneliness and
as a profound change comes over his life.
In the painting, The First Day, the recruits are met in the cold
dawn of a stormy day
by Private Michael E. Fox, a Roster Guide, who will teach them basic
and take them from place to place for processing. Private Fox is an
assigned to the Reception Center until he reports for Officer Candidate
Looking on is Staff Sergeant Joshuaway Ashley, who will be this group's
when their three-day processing routine is completed.
On this day the recruits will exchange their civilian clothes for army
fatigues, and will
submit to military barbers. For some it is a time of anguish, but very
soon they will be
caught up in a busy schedule of orientations, interviews, record work,
details, tests, and more tests. There will be little time for loneliness
They learn what is expected of them and that the Military Code of Justice
assures the fair
and impartial treatment. This day will be long, but there will be
and unforeseen opportunities will begin to beckon to these bewildered new
They are men to be proud of. The youth of the nation – now in the service
of their country.