Wednesday, January 24, 2007

FEMALE ON THE FLOOR! BDU's and Rough Spots

I didn’t take any pictures at Basic Training, I didn’t buy any. (Please, on 2 hours of sleep and no make-up … I don’t even know if I’m going to make it out of here, and you want me to buy those? Not on your life!) You know, they take those photos right after you get there, and that’s why everyone looks the way they do … befuzzled and lost. I don’t think we look tough not smiling.

What is there to smile about? Really.

Oh sure, I was around plenty of young females who did enjoy it. They loved competing and stripping down and putting back together an M-16, they loved to march and to get screamed at, and I guess all that screaming wore off on them, because they would scream at each other all night.

There have been very few things in my life worse than Basic Training.

For starters, Otto, my step-dad that I was very close to, passed away my first week in Basic Training. My first letter from home gave me the news. I just wanted to talk to my mom. The first week in training, soldiers are so locked down and so into the “buddy system.” We each got to use the phone for three minutes, to let our families know we were alive, but then, "the buddy" was right there beside me. And all the screaming females lined up behind her. Too bad about your bad news; "IT’S MY TURN TO USE THE PHONE!"

Females are ruthless.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Right after I first arrived, the Drills had us all lined up, giving us our bunks, our lockers, and there to take our civvies. For some reason, the guy training to be a Drill (aren't they just the worst? All bad....) decided to dump my bag and all of its contents out across the length of the barracks floor, and only after he held up my bikini panties to everyone and said, “You won’t need these!” Toss. Down the aisle. The curling-iron next, “You won’t need this!” Toss. Down the shiny-tiled aisle.

“Not this, not that.” After he tired of the game, he just dumped the whole bag out, and way-way across. Make-up, tampons, tangerines, all. Then I had to pick it all up, stick it all back in the bag, yes, the tangerines too, and carry it to lock-up where I would not see it or its contents for two months.

I joined February 16, 1988. In October 1987, Basic Training became smoke-free.

I put on my Big Girl panties (literally). We had to wear big huge cotton briefs. My grandmother’s were more flattering. I put on my Big Girl panties, stuck my cigs in the contraband box, and went to work learning to be a soldier.

I stuck out like a sore thumb in more ways than one. I was from the nice generation. When people screamed at you, you divorced them.

No one wanted me on their side for anything. I was the slowest at everything, the clumsiest at all things. And I was quiet. I was so shocked. Really, I had no clue as to what I’d let myself in for. I really did believe that the Army would enjoy having someone to type for them. Not all this!

I was slow at everything. Everything but P.T., or Physical Training for you civilians out there. My P.T. scores saved my backside more than once. I got high PT for the company, and it wasn’t due to my old age either (PT scores factor in female/male and age.) Only one other female in a company of 450 could touch me.

With the weapon, I was a total failure. Out of 40 targets, I think the most I ever hit was 27, and it took 29 to qualify. Some days I hit nine or seven or thirteen, but never the magic number.

Some females hit 40. nah, nah, nah, nah nah. One was my squad leader that I despised. She was just that type to hate, you know. She knew everything; her family bled red, white, blue and bullets, and according to her, had friendly relations throughout the entire military world. “Oh, yes, my brother….” Oh yes, my dad….” Oh, yes, we lived right by the Secretary of Defense … my cousin, blah, blah, blah …”

I got the 'Little Hawkeye' pretty good with the pugel stick* though, and loved every last sweaty and breathtaking moment of it!

They tried everything to make me qualify. “Austin, a chimpanzee can shoot better than you!” hollered the LT.

They threatened … they bribed …”Austin, you’re up for the High PT award!” hollered the 1st Sergeant.

“AUSTIN! If you don’t qualify today, you’re not getting the High PT award! You’ll be recycled!” hollered the 1st Sergeant when he called me back five minutes later.

Start over? Oh, my God.

But nothing worked. Those who did not qualify had to wear their BDU’s to chapel while everyone else went in their snazzy green Class B’s with the smart bow tie.

They took me out everyday. Everyday I cleaned my weapon. My right thumb still has a callous that comes from cleaning the M-16. Or, our “weapon” is what we had to call it. Of course, the cigarette lighter I spark up on occasion now hasn’t helped it much

One day, I stood up in chapel, one of maybe five others in BDU’s while hundreds of others sat tall and proud in their smart Class B's; I stood up to give a testimony as the chaplain had called upon us to do, and I said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever qualify, but I know I’m not going home.”

I would not accept defeat. Regardless, I thought, I am not going home.


steve ramos said...

I've known people like your squad leader, and all of them are lucky I didn't shove them under a moving bus. Just kidding! To hear them talk, though, you'd think they single-handedly conceived this nation.

steve ramos said...

This line is hilarious: "I was from the nice generation. When people screamed at you, you divorced them."

I can just picture you in basic with all of those mean girls!

De'on Miller said...

They were hideous as you'll learn in my upcoming posts. I still don't like them! :) lol