The Scuffin’ Test

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I was “on the trail” in the mid-nineties.  Rewarding as hell, I learned alot about how to be an NCO and how to be an asshole, but I repeat myself.  Long hours, often boring as all hell,too often the Drill Sergeant sits around while cadre teaches Joe.  Y’all know nothin’ good comes from a bored Drill Sergeant.

Charlie 1/38th Infantry was on a Post Support day tomorrow.  No training, all our soldiers were tasked out to assist with the menial grunt work of maintaining Ft. Benning, GA.  Our Joe’s were in Week 10, they knew how to behave like soldiers and didn’t require constant supervision.  You could even treat them like humans, laugh a little bit once in a while.  The plan was already in place, after chow we’d have a formation, assemble the teams, show them where to be at 0600 and we were set.  I already knew that ten trainees from my platoon were going to the Drill Sergeant School the next morning.  They’d be mowing the grass, weed eating and assorted stupid shit all day.  A pretty chill tasking, they sure weren’t in danger of being scuffed up, not by the Joe-loving Drill Sergeant Leaders, hell the DSL’s would let them drink coke.

I knew what Joe would be doing at the DSS, but Joe didn’t.  I wasn’t bored anymore.

That evening when we returned to the company area Joe went upstairs to stow his gear and return downstairs for chow.  I checked with the First Sergeant on the evening schedule and last minute changes.  Then when my platoon was back down stairs I stormed out of the First Sergeant’s office.

I told them, “I’m sorry fourth platoon, I just told the First Sergeant we should be sending ten m’fers from third platoon, they deserve a day at the Drill Sergeant School, but First Sergeant says they’re too f*cked up to send out in public.”  The whole platoon glanced to the right at the trainees of third platoon.  And sneered.  “He says its gotta be ten of y’all.”

The heads snapped back to me and eyeballs bulged.  Poor Joe, the Drill Sergeant School had a reputation, long and gory and all of it made up by Drill Sergeants.  Anytime we marched past the DSS there would be students outside practicing “pitching modules.”  These modules were Chapters in FM 22-5, Drill and Ceremony.  In order to graduate DSS you had to memorize 2/3rds of that manual and “pitch” or recite it to your DSL.  The yard would be filled with Drill Sergeant Candidates pitching modules to trees, fence posts, bushes, anything that would listen.  We always told Joe they were practicing chewin’ a Private’s ass.  One of the DSL’s at the school came from our company and he came back occasionally just to shoot the shit.  So the first time Joe sees him, after he leaves I’d tell Joe who he is.  He almost scuffed a Private to death, the stress just got to be too much for him.  They sent him up to the DSS hopin’ he wouldn’t kill an NCO.  So far its workin’.  Stay away from him Private.  They’d avoid him like the plague.

“Who’s goin’ to the Drill Sergeant School, Drill Sergeant?”  asked the Platoon Guide.

“I don’t know yet turbo.” I lied, “We’ll find out after chow.”

“What, uh, what are they doin’ at the Drill Sergeant School, Drill Sergeant?”

I had to look down at my boots as I shook my head.  The brim of my campaign hat hid my grinch-like smile.  “Tomorrow’s The Scuffing Test.”  I swear there was a sudden sucking of shocked breath.  “Before they can graduate they have to scuff a Private until he cries or reaches total muscle failure.  Take ’em to chow, Platoon Guide.”

After chow my platoon guide, all four squad leaders and five other squared away trainees got the bad news.  Drill Sergeant School bound.  They were the best I had, I wasn’t going to embarrass myself in front of the DSS.

The next morning the van from DSS drifted gently to the curb, Charon’s boat bumping the dock.  Joe filed in like they were climbing the gallows.

That afternoon the platoon was waiting to go to chow as I sauntered up.  “They let you have f*ckin’ coke didn’t they Platoon Guide.”  I didn’t hide my smile this time.

“Yes, Drill Sergeant.” the platoon guide tried to suppress a grin, he was mostly successful.

“Damned Joe lovin’ Drill Sergeant Leaders, that’s bullshit, take ’em to chow platoon guide.”




About the Author:

I joined the Army in 1988, served in the 25th IL (L) , 24th ID, The Infantry Training Brigade, The 82nd Airborne Division, Ft Polk and again The 82nd Division until I retired in 2008. I was a mortar maggot and retired with the rank of Master Sergeant.
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