Moonless Night Target Qualification

After being drafted, I entered Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. on 11-17-72 to begin basic training. To finish basic you had to pass the night fire target qualification which required you to hit a popup silhouette target when a tiny light lit it.

When the soldier in front of me walked off the firing line he said, "Good luck trying to hit anything because our light is broken." On this moonless night you couldn't see anything." When I assumed the prone position, I realized what a fix I was in since I could not see any target without the light.

As a result, I fired when others fired. After walking off the firing line, my drill sergeant wanted to know what the heck I was doing because I had failed. This could mean doing basic training all over again.

Having just recovered from pneumonia I shuddered at the prospect. I told him the target light did not work. He seemed at first not to believe me, but after his inspection he said, "Your target light does not work!" I knew we were now on the same wavelength.

He had me assume the prone position with my M-16 pointed down range. He put a flashlight on my helmet and lit up the target. I missed the first time. He said, "Elevate that weapon!." The rest of the rounds in my magazine hit the target each time. He said, "You passed!"

I was one thrilled Army Trainee. My drill sergeant was named Drill Sergeant of the cycle for being the best one, but I already knew that.

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