Here We Go Again...
Same Ole' Shit Again...
That is the first line of my favorite cadence from basic training. Back in 1998 at Fort McClellen, Alabama. I sang that one with such gusto that even the drill sergeants laughed at me.
I stand around now looking around at all the insanity going on around me and I can't help but laugh. (I do that a lot). Mostly because if I didn't laugh at all of this shit I would most likely have a rather debilitating psychotic episode within the first week or so.
I have been reminiscing a whole lot lately about my military life. Which has been interesting to say the least, but given the fact that I am now at a post, and in a unit that is chock full of privates (lowest rank in the army) I have been thinking a lot about my experiences in basic training.
I remember getting there and having a rather large black dude step onto the bus and bracing myself for the Full Metal Jacket style tongue lashing that was certain to be on its way. At which point he politely smiled and asked, very cordially for me to step off the bus and stand on the yellow line.
Alright, not what I expected but whatever. Its supposedly a new Army so I guess they do it this way now. I got in processed, got my new haircut, which made me look like an alien because not only do I have a misshapen dome piece but it is also incredibly large. I mean the damn thing has it's own weather system.
Then I packed up all my civilian shit in a bag, locked it and handed it over. I am still missing a pair of underwear from that. I am still disturbed by the thought of exactly what happened to that pair of red hot chili pepper boxers. I ate some dinner and went to sleep. Not bad food either. Then I spent the next few days going back and forth from this place to that, seeing the doctor and all of that crap. Filling out paperwork and what not. Then one evening a drill sergeant, who was very disappointing to me since he was a very nice guy, came to me and said, "Hey bud, get some sleep tonight because tomorrow morning at 0400 you are going down range." Down range in the military can mean a few different things. You've got the basic training definition, which is leaving reception and heading to a basic training company for the next 16 weeks. Then you have the deployment meaning which is heading into the shithole that you will call home for the next year.
I had yet to realize that basic training still had not yet begun. I saw all the usual stuff. Marching, singing cadence, getting up ass-crack early in the morning and all. However, as yet I had not seen one person get a real, solid, profanity laced dressing down. I mean I felt cheated. Little did I know what was about to happen.
The next morning I woke up at about 0300, I was excited. I was finally about to get to do all that hooah Army shit. So before breakfast they loaded about 80 of us onto a bus and drove us for what seemed like forever but it was really only like 20 minutes and we got there. Bravo Company 787th MP Battalion. My birthplace as far as the military is concerned.
We got off the bus and still nothing good...we marched up the walkway and still nothing good...we walked around the corner (carrying two duffel bags full of all our shiny new Army issue crap)...and still nothing...we crossed under a little banner that said some goofy crap about Bravo being the best company in the Army or something and...it happened...
About 100 or what seemed like 100 but was really only 8 drill sergeants swarmed at us from all directions. I swear to God some of them dropped from the sky and they were all really pissed, had some serious halitosis going on, and they all hated me. I remember shaking. I actually shook. Now ladies and gents, I don't scare easy. But this little surprise got under my skin. I blame it on the fact that I had already been up for two hours and the sun was still not up.
For the next two hours we stood there while we were accosted by these guys who didn't know us from Adam, but were still able to say some of the craziest stuff I had ever heard. "Holy Jumping Fucking Shit Balls Private, You look like about 250 pounds of chewed bubble gum!" "For the love of God private, you must've been born in the ugly tree, fallen out and hit every ugly branch on the way down and smashed into the ugly puddle at the bottom."
All the while as they are screaming at us to hold our bags up. HIGH!!!! Now I don't care who you are holding a bag that weighs 35 pounds or so up in the air is hard, and then to have to do it for any extended period of time is murder. And it had only been like 5 minutes and my shoulders felt like they were being burned by the devil himself and I wished they would just fall off, and I distinctly remember thinking to myself. "You volunteered, dipshit."
Two hours later, caked in sweat and not being able to lift my arms above waist level I dragged my shit upstairs to the wonderful government issue bed of nails that was to be my home for the next 4 months or so.
I spent the next 4 months in one level of pain or another. Never getting enough sleep or enough to eat or ever having enough time to even stop and think. I had taken the first steps down the tumultuous, crazy, enlightening, difficult, heartbreaking, homesickness inducing, thought provoking, and full of shit roads ever. Which has led me to right here.
Sitting on top of a government issued bed of nails with a pile of army issue crap and my shoulders feel like they are being burned by the devil himself and I wish my arms would just fall off, and I continue to think to myself..."YOU VOLUNTEERED DIPSHIT"
Ah, whatever, I guess I am just a glutton for punishment. But then I think about all of them. Who? My mother, my brother, my cousins, my friends, my home, all the people who whether they know it or not depend on dipshits like me to live their lives the way they want, and a strange sense of calm washes over me.
I've done this for over a decade now. Anyone who thinks the military hasn't sent me through the ringer a few times can kiss my Irish ass. I have been through it once or twice. And I still cannot keep that line from "Patton" out of my head.
"God help me, I do love it so..."