I came off the trail and PCS’d to The Division at Ft Bragg. Did the usual inprocessing thing and found myself in 1/325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. The platoon was out on taskings, I met the platoon leader who informed me that the platoon sergeant was on leave so I’d fill in for him a few days til he got back and he’d figure out which line company I’d go to. While looking around the CP I saw some platoon photographs. While looking at the newest one I recognized a shiny young face. “Sir, what’s this MF’ers name?” I asked, pointing at the young soldier. “Ohhh yea, that’s it. He just got here last summer didn’t he.” I replied when the LT reminded me. He’d been one of my trainees about three cycles before I came off the trail. Poor kid.
He’d been a good soldier in basic, he’d have blended in better but he was a bit nervous. Just being close to a Drill Sergeant made him jumpy, any serious inquiry’s left him a stuttering mess. He was fun to just yell at occasionally to see him jump. Sometimes being a Drill Sergeant is like being part of a pack of wolves waiting for a weak caribou to fall behind. This kid wasn’t weak, just nervous.
That afternoon the platoon returned from their taskings and waited for close of business formation. I was in the 1SG’s meeting. When that finished we all moved out to hold formation. As I turned the corner to take my place in front of the platoon I called them to attention then stepped into my place in front of it and locked eyes with my former trainee. His eyes bugged just like I remembered and I saw him mouth the words “Oh, F*ck No.” The men on either side of him lost their composure enough to glance at him, so it was loud enough for them to hear. Outstanding.
It hadn’t been so long since I was a private, I knew exactly what was coming. My former trainee was going to be the most popular kid in the platoon tonight. He’d tell every wicked Drill Sergeant Ness story he could remember, with advantages. By morning I’d be a mythical figure come to the Red Falcons from Asgard. I cemented my new found status the next day when I met Doo-doo Brown, his nickname paints an appropriate picture but that story’s for another day.
I hung around the Bn mortar platoon til the PSG came back. He gave me the Bravo Company mortars but let me know he was PCSing in six months. I spent an awesome six months in Bravo’s 60mm section then took over the Battalion Mortars as a cherry Sergeant First Class.
I had come to enjoy “skit nite” while I was on the trail. Usually done the night before graduation, the trainees would be told that each platoon was responsible to put on a skit about something that happened during training. It was always hilarious, the Drill Sergeants had a good time laughing at each other and Joe had a great time showing off their stand-up comedy routines. I brought skit night with me to the Red Falcons. We had a regular Intense Training Cycle every few months. The entire Brigade would go to the field for three weeks or a month of training. By the end we were exhausted, wore down to nothin’ from going balls to the wall for that length of time. I’d schedule a rifle range for the last couple days so we could relax and have a little fun. The morning we pulled into the rifle range I told the squads we were doing skit night, each squad was responsible for a funny skit. It had damn well better be funny. My driver and I picked up hot chow and some assorted tasty treats. As the sun set we built a fire started some dogs to roasting and everyone gathered for the skits. By the time my former trainee’s squad got their turn it was dark, blacker than four feet up a bull’s ass. Across the fire one of the Squad Leaders was talking shit about another squad’s skit when a voice said from the darkness, “Shit Turbo, I thought that skit was pretty gotdamn funny, why don’t you just do some f*ckin’ push ups.” I had to look around to see where I was because the voice currently scuffin’ my young buck sergeant from the darkness was mine. Then my former trainee stepped into the light and counted cadence for the sergeant’s push ups, still with my voice. The place came unglued. I had to step in to keep the young buck sergeant from killing him but that young man stole the show. He was the headliner for every skit night after that as well as the occasional improv performance in the motor pool or the barracks.