ALS was designed much like a small college specializing in foreign languages. Most of the student-soldiers were either college grads or at least had a few years under the belt. Instead of dorms, there were barracks. What at a college would be described as a dining hall was called the Mess Hall at ALS. The food was not so different, maybe even a bit better. We even had lawns and flower beds.
I studied Czech at ALS in the ’50s; brother Jeff Sharlet was there in the ‘60s for Vietnamese; and, not long after, our cousin John Sharlet went through the 11-month Russian program. All three of us were in the Army Security Agency (ASA), a communications intelligence outfit, although other branches of the military also sent their people to ALS for intensive training in one of the nearly two dozen languages taught by native speakers.
Military duties were held to a minimum, and everyone was free at the end of the class day as well as on weekends when some of us headed across the peninsula to Carmel-by-the-Sea with its beaches and upscale pubs, while others took off up Highway 101 to the San Francisco Bay Area. As military life went, it was great duty.
It is hard to actually describe the antiwar feeling that exists here at Fort Ord, for much of the activity is confined to the minds of men. A common reply to the statement 'I'm opposed to this war' is the simple but inclusive answer 'Who isn't?' There is little enthusiasm toward the policy of the war in Vietnam. It shows in the disgruntled attitude of most of the men on their jobs. ... It's not as if the men were apathetic toward their country or its people, nor are they unwilling to sacrifice personal comfort, safety, and ambition, it is simply the fact they don't believe in what we're doing in Vietnam. ...
There has been some open expressions of antiwar sentiments, a few people have gone to jail, some have distributed leaflets, and many have openly discussed their feelings with other people. The future is sure to bring an increase in open antiwar expression. Many CO [Conscientious Objector] applications will be refused, and many of these people will go to jail. More leaflets written by GIs are appearing, and antiwar graffiti is to be found everywhere around the fort. ... One thing is certain, the troops are getting restless and disillusioned with this war. Some are vehemently opposed, while others are beginning to experience doubts, and this is sure to manifest itself in some way. There are many here who realize what's going on in Vietnam, and they don't like it.