More stories. Most of these actually happened to me. Some of them I witnessed. Some of them I was told by the participants.
- Being young, healthy men, we all wanted sex. As did quite a few young women our age, who were quarantined in a distant land (one of the companies of the battalion, with their own wing of the building). But nature... finds a way.
- One of our guys was caught screwing a girl in the chow hall dumpster one evening. You had to be desperate to even think of that. It's full of uneaten food. Granted, it was winter, but still... I hope the two weeks of extra Fire Drill was worth it.
- One of our guys was married, and had a wife smarter than average. They had a pickup with a camper back. Once we got to white phase, we had phone privileges every Sunday. (This was before cell phones. Yes, that was in my lifetime.) The phones were on the ground floor, near the parking lot. So every Sunday morning, he checked out to go "use the phone", and spent a happy 45 minutes with his wife in the back of their truck. Lucky bastard. 😁
- Fire Drill. For those not used to the military, somebody always has to be on duty. The Army teaches young recruits this by imposing fire watch. This used to be really important, back when we stayed in tents and used fires to heat with. (Fires are now banned, as they draw attention and mortar fire.) Anyways, two recruits in each platoon bay (you never do anything alone) stay up and... make sure the barracks don't float away or something. You have shift for an hour or two (depending on your unit), and then wake up the next pair of guys to relieve you. It's also the Fire Guards duty to be on guard, and to challenge anybody showing up in the middle of the night. (People showing up in the middle of the day must obviously belong, right?) Heaven help you if you don't challenge your Drill Sergeant when they try to sneak in. And Heaven won't help you when you do, and they smoke you for not being sufficiently obsequious.
- We had a wide variety of people in my platoon. (Yes, there were three other platoon in the company, and a total of five companies (plus headquarters) in the battalion. So what? They might as well have been on a different continent for all that we interacted with them most days.) Black, White, Asian, Latino. Our three troublemakers were white, black, and Puerto Rican. We hated them all equally, while trying to help out all the other guys who were temporarily our brothers in adversity.
- There was one black guy who was mildly retarded. A nice guy, but dumb as a post. He was going to be a cook, if I remember correctly. He got us smoked almost as much as the three troublemakers, but he never did it deliberately. (Unlike those three assholes.) We all eventually worked together to teach him how to do everything, from tying his boots (yes, really), to knowing which foot was his left and which hand was his right, to putting on his protective mask in 5 seconds or less.
- There were three Vietnamese guys. They remembered escaping from South Vietnam with their parents. One spoke not a word of English, but seemed to understand directions well enough most of the time. He did his best, and never asked anybody for extra help. One spoke broken English and wasn't overly bright, but he had a Bachelor degree in something or other and his daddy was a Viet general, so he was headed to Officer Candidate School right after Basic. He wore glasses thicker than mine (and that's saying something as I was 20/800), and had buck teeth like the Japs in one of the old WWII cartoons. The other guy spoke Californian like a native, but acted like a decent person.
- At the beginning of Basic, we all promised our drills that we would work together and not fight each other. The point is to team up and fight everybody else, you see. So we did nothing directly to the three assholes who went out of their way each day to make our lives more miserable than necessary. (This was a valuable lesson that some people are evil, and some are just fuckups.) We kept our promise, too. We didn't beat the shit out of them with soap-in-a-sock during a blanket party (you use folded blankets to blind them, hold them down and quiet their screams) until the night after we graduated. They fell down in the shower, you see.
- I mostly enjoyed Basic. Marching was almost trivial and boring after three years of marching band in high school. Basic Rifle Marksmanship was, well, boring. (The Army makes almost everything boring.) Except the part where I and another guy accidentally swapped rifles during sighting-in day, and I spent the next two weeks slowly and surreptitiously re-zeroing my rifle. My drills thought I couldn't shoot at first, but then were amazed when I shot 38 out of 40 on the qualification range. (I bought the video the unit produced of our time in Basic. You can clearly hear me ask the previous guy in the foxhole at the shooting range if he had any spare rounds. "If you ain't cheatin, you ain't tryin!")
- The rifle range was a 300 meter pop-up range. They have humanish silhouettes that pop up at ranges of 50 (3 seconds, half silhouette), 100 (4 seconds, half silhouette), 150 (5 seconds), 200, 250 (6 seconds), and 300 (7 seconds) meters. The silhouettes are olive drab. The firing range is either mud (red in South Carolina - the stains never come out) or grass (if you're lucky, mowed sometime in the previous two weeks), or overgrown bushes (that are a year or two past trimming. You have to aim a bit low at the 50 and 100 meter head-and-shoulders targets, and aim for the shoulders at the 300 meter target. I shot Expert every time I ever went to the range, with the sole exception of my first time using an M16A2 on a 25 meter paper target range. They have these weird sights and a complicated zeroing system that was never explained to me.
- In Basic Training, my assigned rifle was an M16. Not an A1. I had the only one in the company, I think. My rifle had a 5 digit serial number (the first digit was 1), and was made by Colt. It didn't have a forward assist, but it did have the birdcage flash hider. The important thing to me was that it didn't have the ledge under the dust cover, so I had a hell of a time getting my fingers under it to close it during "Inspection Arms" in drill and ceremony.
(Picture from Wikipedia)
- We had a blast (literally!) on the Night Assault Course. It's a simulation of goin over the top from the trenches, like in WWI. It's done at night (duh), and features machine guns firing above you r heads and star shells exploding in the air an illuminating the "battlefield" as you low crawl across 100 meters or so of open ground to the objective on the other side. There are sandbagged pits scattered about. These contain artillery simulators, which are basically a quarter stick of dynamite that emits a shrieking, descending whistle just before they detonate. I got pick up and thrown several feet when one went off near me. Oh, and I got kicked in the face by the guy ahead of me, because I was a bit too close to him when we went over the top of the concrete trench wall. My face was a bloody mess when I got to the other side of the field, and I scared the hell out of the other guys because I was grinning ear to ear. It was great.
- When we finally go to the live fire assault course near the end, I got yelled out because I ran out of ammo just before I assaulted the final bunker. They only gave us 60 rounds, and the team ahead of us was really going slow, so the targets just kept popping back up, so I just kept knocking them back down. I even found a "misplaced" full magazine along the way, but I still ran out of rounds before the finish. So when I assaulted the bunker, I just stuck the muzzle in and yelled "Bang! Bang! Bang!" I was hilariously stupid. At least I got the grenade simulator into the bunker on the first try. (Against all odds, I was an Expert on the grenade range. I can't throw for shit, but grenade technique is really weird, so it all evened out, I guess.)
- We didn't get to throw live grenades in Basic. A couple days before our turn on the range, some other unit found out the hard way that we had a batch of zero second fuses. People die in training. It just happens. We didn't get to use the rappelling tower, either, because of an ice storm.