GI blanket party

It was a hot and humid at Ft. Polk, Louisiana, where I was doing Basic Training in the summer of 1971. Somewhat reluctantly, I had agreed to be a squad leader for my platoon, and one of the tasks that came with the position was to 'properly motivate and guide' the other trainees to prepare for an upcoming barracks inspection. We had not done very well at the last inspection and our Drill Instructor had reminded us that the WWII vintage barracks had better be spotless and shining when he returned to check on things later that evening. Shortly after getting the latrine cleaned and spotless and mopping the barracks floor, we discovered that the floor polisher in the building did not work. Not wanting to subject ourselves to the wrath of the DI, we looked for ways to get the job done. Knowing that pieces of old Army woolen blankets were sometimes attached to the electric polisher to enhance the floor shine, we reasoned that a full-size Army blanket might just be the ticket. Two of the bigger trainees were assigned to each blanket, and two 'smaller' GIs sat cross-legged on each while being pulled up and down the barracks corridors. To motivate everyone, we held timed races, and that seemed to not only speed up the process but also was a great team building activity. Just as we were completing the semifinal competition for our races, our surly DI entered the barracks and startled everyone with his shouts of "What the hell is going on here?" and "You are all in such big trouble!" Once the DI quieted down and we explained our predicament with the floor polisher and he noted that the floor had a nice GI shine, he was OK - complimenting the entire platoon on our ability to improvise and giving new meaning to the term "blanket party."

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