I Have Made a Dreadful Mistake

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The young recruit is silly — ‘e thinks o’ suicide.
‘E’s lost ‘is gutter-devil; ‘e ‘asn’t got ‘is pride;
But day by day they kicks ‘im, which ‘elps ‘im on a bit,
Till ‘e finds ‘isself one mornin’ with a full an’ proper kit.

Rudyard Kipling, The ‘eathen

 

 

 

Ah, the first difficult day of military service.  You suddenly realize that military recruiters had better hope that lying is not a go to Hell sin.  Pride comes later.  Decades after the experience you realize, as the saying goes, that you would not repeat the experience for a million dollars, but you also would not take a million dollars and have the episode subtracted from your life.

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14 Comments

  1. Anyhow, I feel sorry for Marine DI’s. The reason they need to scream so much is the typical marine recruit has the IQ of a bag of rocks. The DI’s are under a great deal of stress trying to teach them their left foot from the right.

    And, sometimes they forget to give them back their brains when they discharge them.

  2. The reason they need to scream so much is the typical marine recruit has the IQ of a bag of rocks.

    The military is by law debarred from enrolling anyone who scores below the 9th percentile on psychometric tests an has had for a number of years a practice of not enrolling anyone below the 14th percentile. The median score for a recruit during the period running from 1992 to 2004 was around the 60th percentile of the general population.

  3. T Shaw,
    You misunderstand the purpose of the yelling. Nearly every minute of training from the moment that DI steps onto the bus to the moment of graduation, has been studied and scrutinized to the nth degree. It is to maximize stress and reinforce to the recruit that they are no longer in control. The Army, which I am more intimately familiar with, uses similar techniques. EVERYTHING is planned, observed, and supervised.

    Look again at those men on the bus. Do they look like “typical” low IQ recruits? Do “low IQ people make it through? You bet. But they are more the exception rather than the rule. Even “knuckle-dragging” infantry and artillery personnel have many skills to learn, memorize, and be very proficient at.

    But that is just my view from my own foxhole.

  4. T. Shaw
    Sunday, January 2, AD 2011 at 4:45pm (Edit)

    MEMO FROM: God Almighty
    TO: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines
    RE: Which Service is Best

    I’ve been watching and here’s what I think. All branches of the United States Armed Forces are truly honorable, courageous, well-trained and capable.

    Therefore, there is no superior service.

    Sincerely,
    God Almighty, USMC (Ret.)

    Best PR dept. in the world . . . the Church ought to hire them.
    Donald R. McClarey
    Sunday, January 2, AD 2011 at 6:53pm (Edit)

    T. Shaw, I’m sending you the bill if I have to buy a new keyboard. I was drinking coke when I read “God Almighty, USMC (Ret.)”. ?
    T. Shaw
    Sunday, January 2, AD 2011 at 9:19pm (Edit)

    Sorry, Mac! I read that in a Christmas gift book. It hit me that way, too.

    Catholic Chaplains go at “it” with zeal for the salvation of souls. Not sure what motivates protestant padres.

    PS: I’m boycotting Pepsi products, too. That’d be about $1.50 less in annual sales.

    PPS: I bet dollars to donuts Michelle didn’t give Barrack “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Salutes the Armed Forces” as a kwanzaa gift. He might learn something.

  5. I can’t honestly say the recruiters lied to me when I joined the Navy. Nothing they said could have dissuaded me from my naive preconceived notions as to what expect.

    Boot camp was actually one of easiest things I did in the Navy. After the first two weeks, we settled into a routine and since we were basically sequestered, there was nothing in the way of distraction.

    I found life aboard ship much more difficult. For one, a little freedom and the indentured servitude of military life is not an easy balancing act for an immature 19 or 20 something.

    I found marching, barracks and personnel inspections easier than crawling in and out of boiler drums, tanks, and cleaning somkestacks, as well as 16 to 20 hour days in 130+ degree heat often doing doing heavy manual labor. I never felt I ever got quite used to that, even five years of sea duty.

    Do I regret it? Hell, no! It was the formative experience of my life. The Navy let me see the world, perhaps a little more than I should have seen.

    But most of all, there is an inestimable satisfaction in knowing that I was able to serve this great country in such a way, although I didn’t see it that way at the time.

    As sailors, it our birthright to make fun of Marines, I have say that, at least as far as conventional forces go, they exceed the other three branches of service in terms of discipline and military bearing.

  6. I come from a long line of veterans, most of them war veterans: WWI, WWII, Korea, up through Vietnam. My Dad ( who did his basic at Fort Knox) pushed for me to go to college instead. I would be the first on his side to go to college. I was thinking of joining, and was even in our local recruiter’s office. But my Dad wanted one of his kids to go to college, and so I walked. To this day, I sometimes wish I would have signed. Veterans are one of those rare groups who, in my view, begin with top respect in my book, and have to work backwards to lose it. And when I can, I’ll thank one if they have paraphernalia that says they served.

    Except once. We were at a local Irish Festival in 2001. We were in some Irish Heritage tent. I looked at an elderly gentleman and saw he had a cap that had some veteran designation. I walked around and saw that his hat said ‘U.S.S. Arizona.’ I was awestruck, but didn’t talk to him. I wasn’t sure if I should. A month hasn’t gone by that I don’t wish I had.

  7. If your dad did his job, one should find boot camp to be a delightful vacation. 😉 (that’s what I’ve joked with mine sometimes, drill sergeants would never let me get home sick)

    It’s a hard, mean, cruel world out there. Men have got to try and be harder and meaner without being crueler to survive. To all the new boots, don’t worry kid, you’ll live and become the best you ever. To all veterans, thank you – now and forever.

  8. That first day of bootcamp was horrible– not because of anything that happened, but because there was no going back.

    After that, exhaustion took over for the next seven and a half years. *grin*
    *********
    I’m no good at explaining it, but the US doesn’t have four military branches. We’ve got the Army, the Navy, a social club and a cult.

    *grin*
    Going to pass on T. Shaw’s funny, too.

  9. It’s a hard, mean, cruel world out there. Men have got to try and be harder and meaner without being crueler to survive.

    You don’t live in wartime Europe. You’re not an 18th century peasant, either. The world you live in is not hard, mean, or cruel. It’s just that your boss is not your mother. Neither is your landlord. Neither are police officers. Neither is the bank to whom you owe money.

  10. Remember them.

    On 10 June, three American soldiers (our sons) “gave the last full measure of devotion” in the Peka Valley, Nangrahar Province, Afghanistan. The DoD released the names. Their family was called D (Dragon) Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Inf. Reg’t. (Rakkasans), 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Div. Ne Desit Virtus.

    My son commanded D Company until September 2015. He again worked with his “family” in 2016 at Fort Polk where he ran a task force team in their pre-deployment training (during Vietnam Fort Polk ran Tiger Land for deploying troops). Two of his former PL’s attended his wedding.

    Some of the older soldiers have done four, one-year deployments; some five.

    Tonight, I will remember them in my Rosary.

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