The unmade bed

I arrived on Nov. 11, 1973 at the Coast Guard Training Center in Alameda, Calif., with a busload of other recruits. It was at night, of course, and we were met at the main gate by a recruit in his first or second week who was to escort us to the Training Center, which was at the far-end of the base. He told us to get in three lines and to "try to look like you're marching."

As we neared the Training Center barracks area, we could hear someone shouting. When we got closer we could make out what he was saying.

"Up! Down! Out! In!" he said over and over.

Arriving at the compound, we came upon a large paved area, the Grinder, and observed a guy running around it carrying an M-1 Garand. He was lifting it over his head, bringing it down and pushing it out in front of him while shouting, "Up! Down! Out! In!"

"How long does he have to do that?" someone in my group asked.

"About an hour," the escort Recruit said.

"What did he do?" I asked. I was thinking he must have done something pretty heinous.

"I think he didn't have his bed (rack) made right," the escort said.

All I could think of was the unmade bed I had left at home.

Of course, I survived the eight-week ordeal and spent the next six years on active duty and an additional 28 as a reservist.

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