Bob - like you, in my Army days no mention was made of hearing protection. At the time I thought nothing of shotgun or 1911 blast. We shot M-14s and I shot in competition, but no muffs, no plugs, not even .45 brass in our ears. It is easy to see this by looking at photos of old Army training photos, even ones from Camp Perry.
I have paid the price for that ever since, but thankfully do not have tinnitus. My good buddy got tinnitus about ten years ago from a single shot at an elk, using a .300 Weatherby Magnum with a KDF reducer and no "ears" on. Sucks that his two guides had their own plugs in and did not warn him, but that is 20-20 hindsight.
Is there a thread on Firing Line in which posters bat around their favorite electronic ear muffs and reasons why? I'm not looking to spend $200, but would like to be able to wear muffs and also hear what people near me are saying without having to read their lips (which I'm pretty good at, by unfortunate necessity).