“AGONY – MISERY”

 

Agony - Misery Ft, Knox KY

This is a photo of “Agony-Misery Hills” at the military reservation at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  This is where I trained with the 3rd Armored Division before going to Germany.  I was in the Armored Infantry, and we know what infantry means.  We marched out to the training areas and this is the route we took going out and coming in.  Some days we were lucky and were transported by trucks.

This picture looks pretty rough, but in reality it is worse–especially when marching.  Even the vehicles needed to shift to the lower gears to make it to the top of these grades.  “Agony Hill” was the hill we marched down to get to the training area.  It wasn’t too bad when we were fresh.  We had to march up “Misery Hill” on our way back to our company area after training all day.  It wouldn’t be a very miserable walk for a Sunday stroll with shorts, t-shirt, and walking shoes, but with rifles and other various pieces of equipment it was not a pleasant journey.  Some times we were even “allowed” to jog up “Misery.”  I can tell you this–it was appropriately named.

While I was at Fort Knox, I started running.  There was a 2 mile cross-country course that was truly cross-country.  There wasn’t a flat area on the course.  It started at the top of “Misery” and came around the mountain on a ledge, through a creek bottom, and then angled back to the top.  There was one section that contained an obstacle course.  It was great for staying in top condition.

I never thought about it until this morning but I recall the old saying:  “Misery loves company.”  Maybe that’s why they named the other hill “Agony.”  As I look back on those times it really wasn’t bad…not now!

So, what is the moral of this story?  It could be many things.  I know that on top of the mountain (company barracks) we felt pretty safe and secure.  As we moved from this safety, we suffered a little “agony” as we went out into the boondocks for training.  Before we could return to safety, it was necessary to suffer a little “misery.”  Maybe that is what happens when we leave the safety of the mountain top with God and go out into the world.  That is where we receive our training to deal with the dangers we will face throughout our lives.  The main thing to remember is to remain focused on the mountain top and never forget that God is faithful in His Promise to never leave us.  It is when we leave Him that “agony and misery” come into our lives.

If you have other thoughts about “agony & misery,”  I would welcome a response.

Update:  Please read “AGONY – MISERY UPDATE” also.

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108 Responses to ““AGONY – MISERY””

  1. Zburrows Says:

    Running = agony and misery!

  2. Tim Says:

    Oh yah good old agony and misery, I went thru basic there in 1990, still remeber those marches, sheesh

  3. Jon R. Says:

    I went thru basic in 1990 (4th Plt A181) and ran Agony and Misery. The last road march was pure….Agony and Misery lol.

  4. larry butler Says:

    I was there in the winter of 1958..These two hills I will never forget. Some of the guys had a hard time with the hills, but we were in pretty good shape before going up and down..I had a great time in the service.. was fortunate that I was never in combat..I was stationed in Germany for two years and when I got back to the states I was extended 4 months because of the Berlin airlift…L Butler PS I now live in Australia and I really enjoy this country.(6 years) I lived in Ct. most of my life but was born in Maine…

    • Sonny Tuttle Says:

      Jerry I was at Ft Knox in the winter (October – December) of 1958. I also spent 2+ years in Butzbach and Mannheim Germany, got extended because of the Berlin Wall. Discharged in January of 1962.
      3rdARB 51st Infantry.
      I remember well …Agony and Misery

  5. scout515 Says:

    I remember those hills I was there in 2000 in E troop 3rd platoon 5/15 cavalry those were the worst.

  6. Rosie Says:

    1957 here. Remember the gas chamber at the top?

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Yes, I remember the gas chamber well, because I forgot some of the instructions
      and did a little crying. Thank you for your service to our country and may God
      bless you beyond all imagination.

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  10. george ronne Says:

    yup good ol misery and agony and the gas chamber does add the perfect touch at the top. im at knox right now bravo troop 5/15 1st platoon assassins

  11. 2010 in review « Jbburrows's Blog Says:

    [...] “AGONY – MISERY” March 2010 13 comments 3 [...]

  12. Joe Martinez Says:

    I was in Fort Knox in the fall of 1983. I remember those hills like it was yesterday. The Gas Chamber is something i’ll never forget. Went in 4 times because my drill seargent wanted to find out who the real men were so i went in each time he asked that question. Best days of my life.

  13. Shane Elder Says:

    I remember marching these hills in 2003 and have to say the worst was doing it while wearing our pro-masks before the going to the gas chambers. Not fun but wouldnt trade thos edays for anything.

  14. Bob Says:

    I took basic training at Fort Knox during the Korean war, 1952. I remember misery hill very well and the times the command to “double time” came as we approached the hill. I also clearly remember the gas chamber where the drill sergant was from Texas and made us remove our gas masks and sing “Deep in the Heart Of texas” until we did it to his satisfaction. Lots of tears by all.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Bob: I too am from Texas with many other Texans in 1955. Our DI was not from Texas, but he made all of us Texans sing the same song. I thank you for your service to our country and pray God’s blessings on you.

  15. Keith Says:

    I did Agony, Misery, Heartbreak and No Name in July of 76. Proud to be apart of the alumni. Thank you all for your service. “Never Forget”

  16. Richard Mapes Says:

    I took basic at Ft Knox.started 1st week of July 1962.the same week Marilyn Monroe died. i too remember misery hill…i was just a skinny 17 yr old with all that gear! but we made it…went on to Germany and then Japan…ahhhhh the memories…..

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Thanks for the comment, Richard. I was there in 1955-56 and gyroscoped to
      German with the 3rd Armored Division to Gelnhausen. God bless you for your
      service to our country.

  17. Terry Gockley Says:

    I remember both of them very well, in March of 1957 i marched up both of them with full field gear and rifle, i was just a 17 year old kid at that time, but they made a soldier out of you, our training was done by instructers that had the thoughts of thier battles in Korea just a few years earlier and drilled the hell out of us. Spent eight months at FT Devens MASS going to morse code school , then to Germany for two years and three months. I was in the ARMY SECURITY AGENCY and it was a none combat outfit because of our top secret type of work.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Terry: God bless you for your service to our country. I am returning to Gelnhausen, Germany this fall.

    • Marke Ellison Says:

      I went to Ft. Knox and Permanent party at Ft. Devens 77-80. I used to drive by the “Antenna Farm” there. I was in the 36th Med Bn. Ft. Devens is gone now but it was a great smaller Post and I have many fond memories of great friends I met there.

  18. RCJohnson Says:

    I started basic in August, 1962 and most definitely remember those hills, as well as Heartbreak. I think what I remember most was an assault course that we went through. It was called Tokyo Ridge or something like that. We had live ammo and targets popping up as we moved forward. I remember thinking that this was a good place to get killed because if a target popped up beside you, someone was firing at it although you were only a few feet away.

    After basic, I went to the Automotive School. While there, the Cuban Missle crisis started up and they took all our senior NCO’s and shipped them out to who knows where?
    My barracks was at the corner of Wilson rd. and 7th Ave.. Directly across 7th Ave. there were a lot of Cubans training for something, never did figure that one out. Went on to Germany in January, 1963.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Thanks for your comment. I pray God’s blessings on you for your service to our country. I was at Fort Knox in 1955 with the 3rd Armored Division and shipped to Germany in 1956 to Gelnhausen, Germany.

      • keith Says:

        RC, I remember something similar to what you have mentioned. but a little different spin. We were on the side of that some similar ridge when bell hueys went over top of us throwing out smoke and CS gas. We were hanging on to twigs or anything else before the choppers came to stay upright. After the gas many GIs slide down the slope and someone lost a M16. We stayed out there until it and every piece of EQ was found. Salute, Thanks for your service.

  19. KRG Says:

    I was there is 1957 too and we did both Agony and Misery Hills with full pack and rifles. I had been in the hospital with Pneumonia just before so I really had a tough time. My buddies pulled me along and I did not drop out. After basic, I was i the best shape of my life.

  20. Charles Wood, SSG Retired Says:

    I was there in 1961 and one of the guys in our platoon was dumb enough to say to the platoon sgt “let’s do it again” so he stopped the platoon on the top of Agony Hill and was kind enough to let the guy run down and back up! Now that’s kindnes…lol

    • JBBurrows Says:

      It is a lot better to think back about Agony & Misery than to be there and experience them. I pray God’s blessings on you for you service to our great nation.

  21. Marke Ellison Says:

    Wasn’t there a “Heartbreak” Hill too? The first time I saw them was at night marching back from the Range, in fall of ’77. I saw an aircraft in the night sky as I was trudging along. As I watched it the plane came lower and lower until it finally drove past, it was a Ambulance that was accompanying us! Thats when the “little voice” in my head said, Uh Oh, :-)

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Marke: There was indeed a “Heartbreak Hill.” I experienced all of these hills in 1955-56, but I am sure they were unchanged while you were there.
      Thank you for your comment and also for your service to our great nation. I pray God’s blessings on you always.

    • Ken Moser Says:

      Heartbreak was much farther out it was twice as long as misery and had sections as steep as agony. It was impossibly difficult up and down with pack and rifle.

  22. keith Says:

    Marke, I remember “Heartbreak, agony and misory, and I once made it to “noname” also. Salute, Thanks for your service.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Keith: Thanks for you commenbt. You were a little ahead of me in passing the “Heartbreak” information to Marke.
      I experienced the HILLS in 1956-57 before gyroscoping to Germany with the 3rd Armored Division. I thank you for
      your service to a great nation and pray God’s blessings on you always.

  23. mike dillen Says:

    How soon we all forget,while marching up agony and misery hills with full field gear in 90 degree heat we all had to sing about good old jodie.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Thanks for your comment Mike. I can still remember those hills, and I was there in 1955-56.
      I pray God’s blessings on you for your service to our nation.

  24. staff sgt mcknight Says:

    1975 D-19-5 BUILT ON PRIDE, FRESH OUT HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING I WAS IN THE BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE AND THEY WERE STILL HARD, MILITARY SERVICE WAS THE BEST THING I EVER DID, I WISH I WAS STILL IN!!!!
    THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE.

  25. wally w. Says:

    Just ran into your website. Recently I was telling my brother about these hills. Did my basic training at Ft. Knox in 1969/70. I still remember the day long, full-pack, marches up and down those hills. The tanks racing by and throwing up gravel, doing pushups on gravel the size of your fist, and marching past the tank target range with the targets on railroad tracks. Went on to MP training at Ft. Gordon and eventually, through a weird set of circumstances, ended as a Lt. in the Infantry (Queen of Battle). Finished out my tour as an Executive Officer in an Infantry Battalion, HQ company. Luckily, by the time I finished all my training they were cutting back on sending troops to Viet Nam so I stayed State-side. I always tell people that the military was a great experience, as was all of the various training, but I don’t think I would want to do it again (the training, that is). I remember that in Basic I was 23 years old and was called the “old man.” Most everyone else was 21 years old or younger. Some fond memories. Thanks for the website and the reminder of Ft. Knox.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Thanks for you comment Wally. I trained at Fort Knox in 1955 and was not considered the “old man.” I was 19 years old.
      So far, your view of this post is number 1,344, so that tells me there are many who have had an interest in those hills.
      I pray God’s blessings on you for your service to a great nation.

  26. James C. Wylie, Jr. Says:

    I grew aquainted with Agony and Misery in March, 1960. Basic, AIT and Turrent Mechanic in 1961. I also remember those hills well. I will be leaving tomorrow morning to revisit Fort Knox, the museum, and Misery and Agony. I also would not trade my 3 years of military service. Great memories

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Have a great visit, James. Some things we will remember always.
      God bless you for your service to our nation.

      • Robert Johnson Says:

        I read yesterday that the Museum at Ft. Knox is nothing like it used to be. The Armor Center moved to Ft. Benning and they say that the museum at Ft. Knox is in disarray and not worth seeing.

      • JBBurrows Says:

        Robert: God bless you for your service to our nation. I haven’t been
        back since Operation Gyroscope in 1956, but I would like to return
        for a visit to see the changes….but not to experience the HILLS!

  27. H.G. Rodman Says:

    I was in basic training at fort knox in 1976 and again at FK as a drill sergeant 1989-90. I know both of these hills personally,(while marching with full ruck sack, weapon, etc…) as well as heartbreak hill. It bring back memories and thankfully that all. Hope to never get any closer to those hills than this picture! H.G. Rodman

  28. Michael Law Says:

    I was here in 1970. Remember these hills very well. Hated being on misery and hearing “double time” and the gas house at the top. That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Michael: I was there in 1955-56 and the hills were correctly named for those who spent
      time on them. Thank you for your service to our great nation and Gob’s blessings for you.

    • Keith Says:

      JB, I’ve noticed a few mentions about the Fort Knox Museum. My son in law is stationed at Ft Knox after 2 tours in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan. Ft Knox is now home to the Big Red 1 which most likely was in Germany while you were there. Do you remember Patton Chapel? I remember all of us having to whistle “Bridge on the River Kwai” while entering the chapel. Thanks for this blog, God Bless, Never Forget.

      • JBBurrows Says:

        Keith: I have received comments from others that brought back memories that I had forgotten.
        Thanks for the reminders. God bless.

  29. Mark Sharnick Says:

    I remember well Agony. Misery and Heartbreak. I did my Basic Training there in 1978.

  30. SGT E Says:

    I did BCT at Ft. Leonard Wood in 2008, but my reserve unit does a couple FTX’s here every year, and we’ve rucked Agony and Misery. It hasn’t gotten easier! I have to say, the downhill is worse than the uphill because of what it does to my feet!

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Sgt E: You mentioned something I had never thought of. “It hasn’t gotten easier!” That thought
      has never entered my mind. I also didn’t remember the toughness of the downhill march. The hills
      are very appropriately named. I was there in 1955-56. Thank you for your service to a great nation
      and God’s blessings for you. Jerry

  31. JOEL Says:

    I was there in 2008, I almost died from a Spyder hole in / on my stomach, at age 28 I was observant that Knox is a helluva lot tougher than many other BCTs in the country, wimps need not apply, I was tired the whole time,,,,to the hunters and shooters of the world that promote peace through actions!

  32. Keioth Says:

    JB, I just returned from my visit with my daughter and son in law and I had the opportunity to go to Fort Knox where they are stationed. I have a pic of Heartbreak that I would like to share with you. If you like please send a email to kagodsey@aol.com and I’ll forward the pic. Salute, Keith

  33. adrian Says:

    I did basic at Fort Knox in 1975, Delta-13-4. We were in the Disney Barracks which I was told was relatively new at the time. Ill never forget Agony, Misery, and Heartbreak, humping it out to whatever training we were doing that day. Ill never forget the NCO’s at Easy Gap fire and manuever range had been drinking and wouldnt let us at the lister bags to fill our canteens and we went nuts. Two men in my company had heat strokes that day and General Leslie saw to it we were driven back to the company area after training. Two (2), 55 gal. barrel drums full of ice and beer were brought out to us. The red flag had been up all day and it was about 110 degrees in the shade. I feel like I pushed at least 3 feet of Fort Knox away from the atmosphere doing push ups for the Drill Sgt., Lionel Sylvas and Sgt. Wheelahan.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Adrian: I forgot about all the fun times (HA). Thank you for your comment and for your service to our nation.
      I pray God’s blessings for you in all things.

      Jerry

  34. Charlie Grapes Says:

    Ft Knox Basic first day Apr 21 st 1974 d-11-5 yea agony misery and heartbreaker

  35. James Says:

    Charlie Trp 5/15. Started OSUT 25 yrs ago today, triggered some memories and a google search brought me this picture. Thanks for the post, humping those mothers seems like yesterday. Scouts Out!

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Thanks for the comment James. I was at Fort Knox in 1955-56 before gyroscoping to Germany with the 3rd Armored Division.
      We all have memories, both good and bad. Those hills were bad at the time, but they turned boys into men. My best wishes
      for you and I thank God for your service to our great nation.

  36. Joe Says:

    WoW – did that route a few times in 1959

  37. Jeff Says:

    Was introduced to agony and misery in 1999 had a race back to the barracks to see who got to use the phones that day. Thanks for the picture maybe people will believe the stories now.

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  39. Robert D. Foreman Says:

    Stationed @ Fort Knox in 1971 (basic training). Then on to Gordon for AIT and ultimately the Republic of South Vietnam (127th MP Company). Although a draftee I wouldn’t trade the experience!

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Bob: I was also drafted. I volunteered for the draft in 1955 and figured I could escape wartime because Korea had just ended. Fort Knox has many memories, both good and bad. Thanks for your comment and may God bless you for your service to our great nation.

      • Robert D. Foreman Says:

        BTW I didn’t mention that I’m second gen Army. My Dad was in the 101st and 82nd Airborne in WWII. Jumped into Holland and fought at the Bulge! I’m also second gen law enforcement, again following in my Dad’s footsteps. He’s gone but never forgotten!

  40. Gary James Bledsoe Says:

    Was happy to find this page, brought back many fond memories. I remember Agony, Misery, and Heartbreak! Charlie 2/46 3rd Platoon (House of Pain) BCT August 1990

  41. swisstoons Says:

    I have vivid memories not only of Misery, Agony and Heartbreak, but also all of the orange mud we trudged through in April, 1964. I trained with D-13-4.

  42. swisstoons Says:

    On second thought, I can’t say that I remember Heartbreak; only Misery and Agony Hills. I wonder if Heartbreak came after my time there.

    • JBBurrows Says:

      I was in Fort Knox in 1955-56, and Heartbreak Hill was indeed there at that time. Maybe you just escaped that pleasure.
      Thank you for you service to our great nation and I wish God’s blessings on you.

      Jerry

  43. Darwin Beaufore Says:

    thanks for the memories, I was the old man at 23 yrs old in Mar.-June,1953. 16 wks basic fort knox then to Baumholder Germany 2nd armored (hell on wheels) as tank commander.I thought misery hill was gravel at that time. every young man should have the experience .teaches self reliance & discipline. D. Beaufore

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Darwin: Thanks for your comment. I was there in 1955-56 and then sent to Gelnhausen, Germany. Thank you for your service to our great nation and may God bless you. Jerry

  44. Arlin A. Kramer Jr Says:

    Went thru basic in 80 and then I was a DS there in 85 thru 88. Now I work there as a Civil Servant, for the Range Control.. Know those hills very well. The photo above is actually of Heartbreak. I am compiling a photographic history of the post for our Archives. If anyone has photo’s they would like to share please send them to
    Arlin.a.kramer.civ@mail.mil. Your name will be placed with the photo’s as the contributor . This will be placed in our Historical Archives. History dies if it is not remembered and preserved.
    Thank you

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Arlin: Thanks for your correction on the hill. They all looked about the same to me in 1955 and all had their own form of misery. Thank you for you service to a great nation and may God bless you always.

      • Kramer, Arlin Andrew JR CIV (US) Says:

        Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE

        Sir I Thank you for your service also, and I would be really be interested in Photo’s from 1955 if you have any.

        Thanks Arlin

        Range Foreman DPTMS, Range Comm# 502-624-3536 Fax# 502-624-7202 DSN 464 Govt Blackberry# 270-272-5767 arlin.a.kramer.civ@mail.mil

        I shall continue to do what I think is right Whether anybody likes it or not. Harry S. Truman 33rd President United States of America

      • JBBurrows Says:

        I will check my old photos for pictures from Fort Knox in 1955-56

      • Kramer, Arlin Andrew JR CIV (US) Says:

        Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE

        Thanks

        Thanks Arlin

        Range Foreman DPTMS, Range Comm# 502-624-3536 Fax# 502-624-7202 DSN 464 Govt Blackberry# 270-272-5767 arlin.a.kramer.civ@mail.mil

        I shall continue to do what I think is right Whether anybody likes it or not. Harry S. Truman 33rd President United States of America

      • Robert D. Foreman Says:

        I too was stationed (basic) @ Fort Knox in the Winter/Spring of 1971 and spent some time in Ireland Army hospital (pneumonia). Afterward it was off to Fort Gordon (MP School) and ultimately the Republic of South Vietnam. Thank you one and all for your service and wish you a long life and continued health.

        Robert D. Foreman
        Retired Sergeant/Miami-Dade PD

  45. Robert Johnson Says:

    In the summer of 1962 I knew one hill from the next. Really didn’t make much difference. Road march going downhill was only slightly better than going up. “Up the hill…down the hill…every day…All the way! A-15-4 Sir! The spirit of the bayonet is to kill!

  46. Jim Mathews Says:

    Hi to all that survived misery hill. I was there in Oct of 1959 and was right accross the street from the reception center in A-8-3. Stg Barnett was the drill instructor. Anyone wants to contact me OK, Jim Mahews 614-778-1295. Ready on the right, ready on the left, click-bang————Who fired that %#@+ shot.

  47. Darwin Beaufore Says:

    I too double timed those hills with full field pack Mar. Thru. June, 1953 17 weeks basic training when the temperature got into the 90′s we were trucked out to the training area’s. I may be wrong in my advanced age but it seems to me the roads were covered with pea stone.

    • Kramer, Arlin Andrew JR CIV (US) Says:

      Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE

      Any Photo’s of your time there would be greatly appreciated. I am building a Photographic history.

      Thanks Arlin

      Range Foreman DPTMS, Range Comm# 502-624-3536 Fax# 502-624-7202 DSN 464 Govt Blackberry# 270-272-5767 arlin.a.kramer.civ@mail.mil

      I shall continue to do what I think is right Whether anybody likes it or not. Harry S. Truman 33rd President United States of America

  48. Richard K Oldham Says:

    From Dick Oldham for all you younger fellows. I took basic in1951 and sufered Misery hill while going through training in Heavy Infantry.

  49. Logan Tyler Says:

    I distinctly remember Agony, Misery and Heartbreak hills! And lots of other stuff from the years 1978-79 when I did my basic and AIT at Disney Barracks Ft. Knox.

    Alpha Two One – Forward Sir!

    Logan Tyler

  50. Jeremy Young Says:

    I was introduced to Agony, Misery, and Heartbreak in 2003. It was not a very pleasant intro. While doing a paced road march a drill sergeant yelled “Incoming! 100 meters!” and continued to do so until both Agony and Misery had been hit. I recall the Hills With No Names and Mount MFer as well.

  51. Bill Neilson Says:

    It was my pleasure to be Drill Sgt in1967-68 to give the trainees the chance to encounter Misery & Agony.
    Sgt. Neilson

    • JBBurrows Says:

      Bill:

      Only a Drill Sgt would comment he gave trainees the chance to encounter those hills. But,
      we all later understood those hills were an opportunity.

      I thank you for your service to our nation an wish God’s richest blessing for you.

      Jerry

  52. Dino Says:

    Brings back basic training 1969 I’ll never forget Misery & Agony. Glad to see it made such a lasting impression on all of us.

  53. billy cheuvront Says:

    Misery & Agony hill, I remember them well. I took basic with the 37th AIB,3rd armored Div. Jul 1949/ Oct 1949. Billy C

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