Letter From Basic Training – March 28, 2004 – 200 Years of Practice making guys miserable


[about 4 pages of extra-stupid gibberish precedes this]

Yesterday, I think I told you on the phone that we took our first PT test.  Pushups, situps and 2 mile run.  I did good – 6th out of 55 in our platoon.  My goal is to get a 300.  I got a 268 so I have to do 9 more pushups, 8 more situps and run 1 minute faster [to get a perfect 300]  The run needs the most work but because when I was sick I missed 2 runs, I have only run 3 miles total since I got here.  And you know how much I used to run back home.  After our test, we sat in a big hot classroom with our new rifles spread out in front of us, taking them apart step by step.  I was very bored becasue I have the same gun at home.

[Ahhhhh!  You called it a gun!  It’s a rifle – or a weapon – or a carbine – but not a gun!  Yes, you get in trouble for calling it a gun in the Army.  Who cares?  Now that I’m out – gun gun gun gun gun. Just don’t call the rear sight assembly the “carrying handle”, you toolbox.]

We walked through a step-by-step function check like this: put your weapon on safe, pull the trigger, nothing happens.  Put the weapon on semi, pull the trigger, hear a click, etc.  But there was always one guy who would f*ck it up and his gun would click or clang when it shouldn’t and the drill sergeant would make the company do 10 pushups and start over.  It should have taken 45 seconds, but it took us an hour.  There are some dumb motherf*ckers in the army.  Also all my clothes were dirty so I had to wear my winter BDUs.  They are a little hotter but not that bad.

[So stupid – issue us 2 pairs of summer BDUs and 2 pairs of winters – even though it’s spring in Georgia. They look almost identical unless you hold the fabric up to your face.  And when you wore the winters, you had to wear a cap with earflaps.  But you could NEVER wear the earflaps down]

    We won the obstacle course and the PT test average but we were last in cleaning the barracks so we didn’t get the pass to the PX.  If we had won, we would have had a 2 hour pass to shop, eat pizza, drink soda and use the phones and internet for the duration.
       Today we have just been doing laundry and guys have been going to church – the usual for a Sunday, but then something really cool happened.

[I must have been Lord of the Flies sadistic to think that this was “really cool”]

   The captain ordered the company downstairs in a box formation.  At the center was his desk and chair.  He called these guys up one at a time and proceeded to hold a military court.  One guy (Pyle – the 17 yr old kid) got 45 days of hard labor, 45 days of restricted activities (we’re restricted already but he’ll miss passes) and a fine of $300, for being disrespectful and disobeying in the dining facility.  Another couple of guys got 15 days of each and the fine for fighting.  Two others got 15/15 and the fine for neglecting to guard weapons.  And some guys from the winning platoon who tried to bring candy back with them got 3 days of each but no fine.  It was pretty entertaining.

[I guess I was just bored.  I’m not sure why I thought this was so great.  It did reinforce an important lesson.  Do not get in trouble in the Army.  You’ll probably be somewhere, waist deep in mud, flies biting you, getting shouted at, and think, “What are they going to do to me?  They can’t possibly make it any worse than this.”  Famous last words. Of course they can make it worse!  They’ve had over 200 years of practice at making guys just like you EVEN MORE MISERABLE when they break the rules.]  


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