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By Jack Hackley
Back during the Korean War, the first eight weeks of basic training brought together a group from every walk of life. Some had joined for three years to keep from getting drafted in the infantry, even though draftees only had to serve two years. After the eight weeks was up, the volunteers went on normally to special training and we never saw them again. The draftees went on to advanced infantry training and then headed overseas.
One of the most interesting characters we had in our company the first eight weeks was Patrick Quirk. His dad owned Quirk Funeral Homes and was quite wealthy. Quirk Funeral Homes catered to the wealthier clients and also handled the famous Bobby Greenley’s kidnapping and murder.
Quirk arrived at Fort Riley in a chauffeur-driven limousine. The limousine was always there when he got a weekend pass. I saw him years later. He owned hundreds of apartments in Kansas City and L.A., and made national news when he bought a TWA Constellation airplane, took the wings off and towed it from Fairfax Airport to 34th and Main, where it became a bar.
Pat was a real likeable guy. He sat around the barracks at night telling us stories about a life us farm boy draftees could not imagine. He told us about a corpse named Herman in the basement of his dad’s funeral home that had been there 10 or 15 years.
Back then it was fairly common for a funeral home to have a corpse or two that no one would pay for the burial. He told us how he and his cousin would load Herman in their car and take him to a drive-in movie.
When our eight-week basic training was up, even though Pat was a draftee, he didn’t continue in the infantry with us. When I asked him how he got this special treatment, he said his dad was good friends with their congressman. I figured their congressman did the favor because when the time came, he didn’t want to be mistakenly put down in the basement with Herman.
Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.jackremembers.com