Extra-hard training for a different purpose

In 1959 I attended Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, S.C. There was a tall and skinny kid from Tennessee in my platoon. It soon became apparent that this kid (I forgot his name) was capturing the attention of all the sergeants in the company. When at PT, he was ridden unmercifully because he couldn't do but a few push ups and absolutely no chin ups. He couldn't run fast enough to keep up and usually had help, in a forced march, to stay on his feet. On a couple of occasions he was assigned to take a plain old eating fork he was given and rake the sand underneath the barracks, from one end to the other and when he was done was told it was in the wrong direction so do it all over again from in the other direction. All the while he had to yell out at the top of his lungs "I am a meatball, Sir" this with frequent prodding of "I can't hear you boy". Near the end of the 8 week training period we all got a weekend pass to Columbia for a weekend out before graduation. A couple of my friends and myself were in a bar in Columbia having a beer to cool down (and if you've ever been in Columbia S.C. in June and July, you will know what I mean) when our Platoon Sergeant walked in and got a beer. He spotted us and came over and sat down like we were some of his good old buddies from camp. While talking, one of us said that he bet the Tennessee boy would be glad to graduate and get out of here. The Sarge said, Oh he isn't going to graduate. We are going to cut him loose. When Ask why he said the kid couldn't meet qualifications. I ask why he was still here and he said "To get him a good medical checkup, some dental work and in as good a physical condition as possible before we cut him loose back into civilian life. When one of the guys said said "So that's why you were so hard on him", he answered, "He needed our help more than most of you did". Let that be a lesson to those who wonder why life is sometimes so hard. There's always another good reason. Thank you, Uncle Sam!

« Previous story
Next story »