Monday, May 21, 2012

Army Days

I don't often think about my time in the U.S. Army.  But when I do I usually think about basic training.  That was the best part of the Army, as far as I'm concerned.  Running around, shooting, singing, shouting, blowing things up, leaping over walls.  And life was simple.  Wake up, work hard, eat, sleep, obey.  I was in the second squad (12 men) of the 1st platoon (53 men), of B Company (218 officers and men), of 4th Battalion (883 officers and men), of the 5th Brigade (4,600+ officers and men).  I saw the colonel once.  I saw the sergeant major once.  I saw my captain 4 times.  But I saw Drill Sergeant McCain every minute I was awake for 8 weeks.  He was one of the best men I've ever met.

In my squad was a man named Micael Ainsley.  I don't know much about him, but he had a hiarious sense of humour.  He told me about a book called Bored of the Rings. I read it after I was graduated from basic training and thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever read.  Back then, the only time a soldier got to fall out of formation was for a smoke break.  Until I heard a sergeant say it, I thought "smoke 'em if ya got 'em" was just something said in the movies.  He thought I was pretty funny and bought me my first cigar so I could hang out with him and the other smokers on their smoke breaks.  It was a White Owl.  In the second week of basic training the Surgeon General of the Army forbade smoking in all training units.

There was a man, he was 19, in my squad from the Dakotas.  He played the cello and had joined the army to pay for the rest of his education.  I think his name was Olson.  He told me, and I've never been brave enough to try it, that he learned on an indian reservation that one can pour a bottle of rubbing alcohol through a loaf of bread and it won't kill, blind, or make the drinker mad.

Pete McGlincy was one of the funniest men I met in those at weeks at Ft. Dix.  He was a 17 year old from Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania.  When Olson, Ainsly, and I would be talking about philosophy and cigars and our plans for the future (wow, those sure didn't work out!) he would talk about all the girls he slept with and laugh at us for not knowing what was important in life.  I think he managed to go on sick call at least half the days of basic training.  I think he actually added a few pounds of fat before graduation!  He was the one who told me about the donuts in the hospital.  I didn't see it for myself until I got hurt while stationed at Ft. Monmouth, but it seems that back then, if not today, there was a big platter of donuts on a counter in every Army hospital.  It had to be 3 feet high!


Mimi said...

Interestingly, I just read an interview with Colin Powell where he said that everyone who has been in the military always remembers the name of their Drill Sargent.

Matt said...

I pray for mine. Drill Sergeant Lonnie B. Mccain was a great man.