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Arnold Schwarzenegger Army Service

Posted by: Ray

Early Days...Private Schwarzenegger

Most young Austrian men do a compulsory 12 months of military training. When ARNOLD turned 18 it was time to sign on for his service. But rather than just accepting the required years' service, ARNOLD decided to sign on for three years in order to get training as a tank driver. ARNOLDS' father had been an officer in the Wermacht during World War II and was a police official in Graz when his son enlisted in 1965. "I joined when I was 18 because I wanted to be a tank driver," ARNOLD said, "but I knew there would be problems because I was too tall. Anyway, you have certain privileges when you volunteer and one was that you can elect to stay in your home-town area."

ARNOLD was keen to stay around Graz to continue his work-out regimen at the Union gym, but the army had different ideas.

"Normally what happens," ARNOLD chuckled, "is that you say you want to stay in Graz and they send you to Innsbrook at the opposite side of the country. If you say you want to be a tank driver then you end up walking around the mountains with a machine gun."

Obviously, young ARNOLD would have to pull a few strings to get the army to see things his way. "I told my father they were going to send me to Vienna for tank training but I wanted to stay in Graz. He said to let him call a buddy from the Second World War. I got a notice a week later that I was to be based at Graz."

Thus began a series of military misadventures. "It seemed like I had something happen to me every week," ARNOLD recalled of his time with the Panzer division at Wetzelsdorf kasserne.

"One time I parked the tank on a down-hill slope while we went to eat and it rolled into the river. Another time I had to start the tank and check the gauges. I put the tank in gear and got ready to roll, but someone screamed that I couldn't drive until the engine had run for 15 minutes or something. I came out of the drivers position and forgot to take the tank out of gear. When I got back in to check if it had warmed up, I felt the tank shaking and then people began screaming at me and bricks were falling over. The tank had backed through the wall of a garage, wiping out the gas lines and water pipes and everything."

"I got out and went to see the commander. He was having a very happy day; laughing and everything because he had, had a good time with his wife or something."

He asked me, "ARNOLD, how is it going?" and "What is it?"

I said "I had a little problem and he told me not to worry about little things. Then he went out and saw my tank half way through this building. He started screaming and I wound up in trouble again".

ARNOLD finally appealed for a release from his three year contract and the army officials decided he could do more good for his country winning body-building titles than wars.

Every army has its' Private SCHWARZENEGGER. They are the ones who make it so interesting.

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