The Trail Vehicle

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I was On The Trail from 94 thru 96 at Ft Benning, GA.  The Home of the Infantry.  We did a lot of road marching.  I always had and by 94 I had six years of service.  Six years of the Infantry lifestyle will make you hard as woodpecker lips.  The Infantry Lifestyle will get the best of you…

The first roadmarch I made with 1/38 Infantry, “Rock of the Marne” was like I died and went to heaven.  One of the lessons the Wolfhounds instilled in me was the sanctity of the roadmarch.  Your squad splits the weight of combat equipment and ammo and everyone carries their fair share.  If you fall out your squad mates have to add your fair share to their own fair share.  Buddy is only half a word, know what I mean?  In 1/38 the roadmarch was sacrosanct.  We, the cadre, could put up with a lot of shortcomings in a soldier but being a fall out wasn’t one of them.

There was a trail vehicle that carried extra water, medical supplies and also picked up the fall outs.  When the company took a break the trail vehicle would pull up to each platoon, top them off with water and then move forward to the next platoon.  Each time it stopped the platoon Drill Sergeants would unload the fall outs and apply a light coat of sweat to their ass.  Then when the platoon had been watered the weak of heart would be chased back onto the truck only to drive forward a hundred meters and do it all again.  The message was plain, it hurts to roadmarch long distances, it hurts worse to fall out of a roadmarch.

One of the Drill Sergeants from the “duty platoon” had to drive the trail vehicle.  I’d rather walk 15 miles on blistered feet than drive the trail vehicle.   Six hours at the speed of fart is more than I could bear.  Fortunately I had a partner who was a little more lazy than dedicated, in this instance it paid off.  He was thrilled to drive the truck.  It was one of his most endearing strengths.

We had a Private in the platoon, a short chubby kid, soft as butter on a warm afternoon.  He was physically challenged but made it through sheer want to.  I used to tease him when he started to fall behind, one time I remember I saw some turkey buzzards circling above us.  I looked at the chubby private and pointed to the circling buzzards, “They’re eyeballin’ you Private.  I’d stay close to the platoon if I was you.  Even a buzzard will kill the sick and the weak.”  Then I turned around and walked away, leavin’ him alone with the ravenous vultures.  He picked up the pace but kept a close watch on those buzzards for the last couple miles.

It came time for chubby private’s 15 mile roadmarch.  We were the duty platoon.  It was only me and my less than stellar partner but guess who volunteered to drive the truck for the whole 15 miles!  Six hours and much suffering later chubby private and I finished the 15 miler and I put a powder blue cord over his shoulder.  We released the privates and I was talking to my partner when chubby private walked up and assumed the position of parade rest.

“What Private?”

“Drill Sergeant, I wanted to thank you for nudging me with the bumper, if you wouldn’t have scared me like that I don’t think I’d have made it.”

My partner replied, “Shut the f*ck up Private, get the f*ck away.”

I looked at my partner and he looked like he’d seen a ghost.  WTF dude?”

“I was pretty sleepy, kinda noddin’ off, I don’t remember pushing him with the bumper.”

I almost shit myself.  “That’s why I’d rather walk!”


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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