Honoring the national bird of Parris Island

Let me start by saying when I went to boot camp, I was a fourth-degree black belt in the gym five days a week, and it meant nothing. I quickly found out it wasn't all about strength but more so the discipline. Our platoon had four drill instructors—three assistants and the senior.

One assistant was great at close-quarter drills, the other physical training, the third on information and knowledge. The senior was a bit of all wrapped up into one.

The craziest thing I'd seen in boot camp was the day we were doing close-quarter drills and a sand flea took a bite out of one of the recruits. He swatted at it, getting the drill instructor's attention with his sound and movement. Before he could retract his hand, the drill instructor was on him and quite upset. He smashed his Smokey against his face and began yelling.

"You selfish dick, not only have you just got the whole platoon killed, you killed my national bird here on the island! Sand fleas live here. You're just visiting," he said.

He made the recruit get his shovel out and begin digging a grave. Hours later, grave completed, he told the drill instructor the task was completed.

"Outstanding," the drill instructor said. "Now produce the body of the slain national bird."

In major confusion, he scrambled to find it or some acceptable substitute. After about a minute he announced he located the body and was ready for inspection.

The drill instructor went to him as he stood at attention with his hand out palm up. After careful inspection, the drill instructor said, "I don't believe that's him. It's probably a distant relative, but he'll do. Now bury him properly."

The recruit placed it in the whole and began to bury it. The job was complete 45 minutes later. The drill instructor made the recruit stand at the grave site until it was chow time. We could barely contain our laughter, so most of us did more than 400 push-ups as punishment for laughing.

« Previous story
Next story »