A month ago I put together a little collection of Army stories for my #comedyopenmic entry. Since I'm judging this round, I thought it would be appropriate to just phone it in with a second drop of stupid stories for everyone's reading pleasure. Today I'm gonna focus a bit more on myself and my time as a cadet. I joined the Army by way of ROTC, and let me tell you what: putting a uniform on a bunch of over-educated and under-achieving college kids turns out about exactly as well as you might think. But first, a quick story from my active duty time that I forgot from last time:
We had been out in the field for a training exercise for several days. Luckily, I wasn't in a unit of
savages infantry, so we had porta-potties on site to do our business in. Hey, if taking a dump into a hole in the ground is your thing, I hear they are always looking for more 11B suckers. I like deliver my bowel movements in the comfort of a sweltering urine soaked plastic sewage box, thank you very much.
Anyway, this did not happen to me personally, but once it happened, word of it spread faster than you all heard about the Byteball airdrop. A soldier had gone to use the latrine in the dark of the night. As he was seated, a spider crawled out from under the rim. You can guess what happened next.
Anyway, he ended up being fine. As far as I know he can still father children, and for a few days he achieved what many pills sold online can only claim to do. I think the funniest part about it was that everyone knew within an hour of it happening, and everyone gave him a hard time about it for weeks afterwards.
For one day a week all throughout college, I donned a uniform and played Army-man for a few hours. Poor decisions were made before, during, and after these hours.
One day after getting out of training late we all decided it would be a good idea to go to the club together in uniform. We had the presence of mind to take off our ROTC patches so no one would know we were only pretend soldiers, and so we wouldn't get in trouble. Unbelievably enough, none of us got in trouble.
I used to ride to training on a motorcycle. One day, one of the other cadets asked if he could ride back to school with me as a passenger on the back of my motorcycle. I let him ride under one condition: he wear a helmet. Since I had only brought one helmet with me, he ended up wearing one of those old Vietnam era Kevlar helmets (K-pots). We were both in uniform, headed home in rush hour traffic down the beltway, and he had a combat helmet on and was holding on to me for dear life. I can't imagine what that looked like. I wish I had a picture.
Summer Camp Delirium
In the summer between your junior and senior year, ROTC cadets have to go to a 40 day training and evaluation course. It is the closest thing we do to basic training, and the schedule is just as brutal. Up at 6 AM, training until 10 PM. No breaks. No weekends. It's a great stress simulator, and people react to it in different ways. Most people just go the old "chin down and grunt it out" route. A few people quit or have a nervous breakdown. But me, I went full joker. It was so hard for me to take anything seriously, that I just stopped trying. By the end of that 40 days, I had skirted the edge of getting punished more times than I can count. Here's a few examples of what I'm talking about:
We had to use camouflage facepaint while we were out in the woods. I thought this was ridiculous, as we were well inside the borders of the United States with nary a Taliban in sight. So when forced to apply my man makeup, I used a dark color to paint cat whiskers across my cheeks and big raccoon eyes across my face. They made me wipe it off and re-apply it within the first few minutes of spotting me walking around the camp like some kind of militant furry. Again, I wish I had a picture of this.
But I tell you what I do have a picture of! During one of the many security halts we took during training, I decided to augment my professional facepaint camouflage with some natural foliage. My results were phenomenal, and I am happy to report the enemy was unable to spot me in my elaborate disguise.
Oh, that is the same kind of helmet my friend wore when I gave him a ride on my motorcycle.
Another time, we had just come off of hours of room-clearing drills. We were so sick of staking up and running into rooms that we decided to have a little fun and pretend to clear the smallest room of all:
Training gets boring. So you do what you can to stay awake.
Once I went for 4 hours straight in full-blown Robert Downey Jr. from Tropic Thunder character during a mission. I had an unlit cigarette hanging out of my mouth the entire time and did a pretty good rendition of his accent and mannerisms.
Once when I was running a training as a senior in ROTC, I had to man the "TOC" (headquarters) overnight. To stay awake, my friend and I put on a movie on the laptop. For some reason, the only movie he had was Marley and Me. About 30 minutes into the movie, one of our Sergeant's walks in and goes "Oh is that the one where the dog dies?" Spoiler alert. I think we turned the movie off.
Later during that same exercise, a few of us were using chewing tobacco to stay awake. Now, for those of you who've never tried it, it comes on strong. The buzz you get the first time you use it is like smoking 20 cigarettes at once. So when our friend who had never tried it asked for some because he was having a rough time staying awake, we warned him. Didn't do any good though - 15 minutes later he was in the bathroom puking.
Shortly after I joined the real Army, I was the OIC (officer in charge) of a day at the shooting range. One of my responsibilities was to call in to Range Control on the radio to request permission to begin firing. It was my very first time on the radio ever, but I was confident I would make it through. Flanked by my two most senior NCOs, I called up range control. Everything was going nearly picture perfect until the very end.
Range Control: "Acknowledge all, you are green on Range 46. OIC confirm with initials"
Me off the radio: "Uhh... what does he mean?"
My NCO: "You just need to give him your initials and then you're done."
Me off the radio: "Riiiight. Got it."
Now as anyone who has ever seen a movie knows, us military types are very fond of our "Alphas, Bravos, Charlies" and so forth. You would never get on the radio and say "A B" if your name was Aaron Burgess. You'd say "Alpha Bravo". Well, I could not for the life of me remember what the correct word for my letters were. Time was ticking. Range Control was waiting for a reply. My NCOs were staring at me, barely concealing their smirks at my visible discomfort and certainly not about to offer the information unsolicited. Finally I keyed the mic:
Range Control paused for longer than I would have expected and finally came back.
"Roger Range 46, out."
My NCO's then burst out laughing. They didn't let me live that one down for weeks. "JV" is supposed to be "Juliett Victor".... not "July Violet".
Don't mess up on the radio. People will make fun of you.
@DollarsAndSense is a father, veteran, participant in the rat race, freelance writer, and volunteer EMT. He also tries to be funny sometimes. Want to read some of my previous comedy entries?
- A Crappy Cartoon
- 6 Majors Way More Worthless Than Your English Degree
- My Cheesy Utopia
- A Few Army Stories
- A Scholarly Exposition of the Dark Message Behind the Children's Book "Goodnight, Moon"
- Awesome Stuff Named After Crappy People
Unless otherwise noted, all text and pictures in this post are my own and may not be reused without my permission.
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