For this part, I had to go back to a blog I wrote 7 years ago. I remember the scene, but not the exact words. You might be able to tell from my previous posts, that things were not going well in basic training. Besides the aforementioned incidents, there were gents trying to get out on a section 8 by pretending riding up and down the stairs on a motorcycle, making appropriate motorcycle sounds and keeping most of us awake. Although our training was going well and most of us were developing into the best physical shape we were ever in, we knew that the officers and NCO’s were having mucho trouble with us.
I believe it was at the beginning of our seventh week (the eighth week if you count the zero week) we were called together on a Monday morning, as per usual. What was not usual was that we were being addresses by our battalion commander and not our usual lieutenant or first sergeant. Somehow this event was coming and most of us were not surprise when the battalion commander said, “We hate you. We don’t understand why you speak and act the way you do. This is not the military way. From this point forward, we will no longer train you. You will have to train yourselves.”
Does that remind anyone of the movie “Stripes?” I often have wondered if the writer of that movie was one of us. Fortunately for us, our squad leaders, guys who came with us and were elevated to a higher status. In fact, we did very well with the rest of our training, gas chamber, infiltration course, 5 mile forced marches. Those are the ones that I remember. I am sure that we were being watched in case we did some fooling around. Quite the contrary, we took all of the training very seriously.
Our final parade event saw us and all of the other recruits at Fort Benning march in a giant parade in front of family, visitors, brass, and important people. We did one hell of a good job. Even Sergeant Barnwell was pleased. I could see his fingers wiggling and chaw rotating as we passed him in front of the stands.
We all went back to our barracks to receive our orders for our next station. My orders were to remain at Fort Benning for advanced basic training. That was not one of the choices I would have made for myself. I was kind of down as I sat on my foot locker and reread my orders. At my lowest point, a lieutenant from company headquarters stopped in front of me and gave me a new set of papers. He was happy to give me a new assignment that would not involve me being near him or other place bound Fort Benning staff. I was going to be a radio teletype operator and had to report in two weeks to Fort Gordon in Augusta Georgia. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.