Letter From Basic Training – March 30, 2004


Dear Mary Beth,

   [redacted: 3 of the corniest lines ever written, talking about my rifle, which I named Mary Beth]

    My friend [redacted]  got a Dear John letter today.  He’d been seeing the girl “on and off” as he put it, for a year and a half.  She wrote him and said she didn’t think it would work out.  He was not overly distraught – I think he expected it. 
    Now it is morning and I’m trying to finish off my letter. Last night we had a simulated promotion board.  We had to report to the drill sergeant like he was an officer and answer questions.  It was a test of the first 3 weeks.  I got all the questions right and passed.

[the questions I was asked: name, rank, air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow]

    There’s a kid called Manning.  I think I told you about him before – he doesn’t want to be in the Army and said he didn’t want to kill people.  He went to Cornell.  Now he is saying that he is gay to get out.  The drill sergeants told us not to harass him about that, but we should harass him about other stuff.  Now he has to eat last every meal. I don’t mind him though – he bunks next to me (and got me sick).

[by coughing wet hacking coughs all night long – they made us sleep in opposite directions, like my feet faced the center of the room, and his faced the wall – it didn’t work]

I hope he spares my life when he goes on a shooting spree.


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