Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tuesday, 31 MAY 88

Got paid. Went to range.
Fucked up first time, hit second.
Didn't think BRM would be a
problem. Probably most difficult
for me for some reason.
Pugil sticks, too. I think
I had a concussion 12 years ago
so didn't fight. Was going to
do it anyway--it looked fun.
But someone who had a concussion before
got nailed so I prudently
changed my mind.
I didn't go on sick call.
Maybe tomorrow.

Basic rifle marksmanship was a struggle despite much shooting. For some reason, sometimes I'd do just fine and other times I'd do awful.

I remember pugil sticks day. Like hand-to-hand, this was more of a familiarization rather than real training. Although it was a chance to finally use all that bayonet training with the various slashing and bashing moves. I remember wanting to try it since we'd be padded up. They didn't want anyone with a previous concussion to participate. I'd been hospitalized several days as a teenager to watch me for signs of a concussion. But I kept quiet at first. Until someone who'd had a concussion was flattened by his opponent. Then I mentioned it. The fact that this was really no big part of training can be deduced by the fact that nobody who didn't fight caught grief from the drill sergeants.

Like I said, the only really critical things to learn were shooting an M-16 and passing the PT test at the end. Do those things and everything else could be fudged and learned at advanced individual training or reinforced at your unit when you got your assignment. Basic training didn't make you a trained soldier--it gave you the basics that everyone else got in order to learn to be a trained soldier.

I did not go on sick call. Every day I had to make the call--can I literally limp along and continue to make progress to graduation? Or does the pain risk sliding into an injury that stops training and makes me start over? That was the problem. I knew that basic training was hard but it was designed to be passed. The image of being hard is greater than the actual degree of difficulty. After all, how could the Army exist if it weeded out most who actually made it to training? But knowing I could make it through if I wasn't a total weenie assumed that I wasn't physically incapable of making it because of injuries.

I don't know if I mention this later, but one guy who was injured in basic training was pulled out of training and ended up helping out around the company headquarters while he healed up and awaited a new class to come in after we graduated. At one point, the stress of thinking about starting all over again got to him and he went AWOL. Eventually we heard that he'd gone to the airport, caught a flight home, and once there called his parents from the airport to tell them he was out of the Army and to come get him. Eventually the Army called his parents to find out where he was. The Army was not for him. If I remember things correctly, if you couldn't complete training and the Army got rid of you, you didn't get a dishonorable discharge or anything bad. The Army simply figured you couldn't hack it and sent you home.

I wanted to go home. But for me--and almost everyone else--the way home went through the graduation ceremony.