“You gonna leave here a warriah, a trained killah! Gonna come a time when you life gonna depend on it, so pay attenshun!”
June 25, 1950: North Korean armed forces, supported by the Soviet Union and China, drive deep into the heart of South Korea. They are met by the United States’ First Marine Division, and a draft is instituted back home. Able-bodied young men enrolled in college for “critical skills” receive temporary deferment; upon graduation they are obliged to serve a six-year term.
July 27, 1953: An uneasy armistice is signed. The Cold War has suddenly gotten much hotter, and the draft remains in full effect. Two years later, a crop of college graduates in engineering and the sciences arrive at Fort Dix, New Jersey, for basic training and the start of their service with the Scientific and Professional Detachment.
Author Joseph N. Manfredo’s The Trained Killers brings us the story of the troops of the S&P Detachment as they serve their country and the conflicting demands of their twin gods—science and the military—with dignity, wit and verve. In his humorous, true-to-life style, Manfredo recounts a series of vignettes of what army life was like for these unique troops during basic training and after assignment to the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
October 4, 1957: Russians launch Sputnik. An awareness of the urgent need to spur on American technological advances strikes the nation, giving the engineers, scientists and scullions of the S&P Detachment renewed hope for a more efficient use of their talents in the days ahead.