17 May 2015

My little army man

My little brother has spent the past few weeks in basic combat training at a military base in Missouri. After a high fever and an injury left him in the infirmary, he was forced to return home for a month to recuperate. On his first day back, he regaled us with tales of life in the most corrupt institution in the world.

One of their first lessons is the proper way to talk. Their vocabulary must not demonize the military. For example, in the army, you don’t steal anything. You acquire it. My brother tells us, “We didn’t steal that Humvee, we acquired it.”

His first meal with the U.S. Army is a very special learning experience. Privates are encouraged to “take their fill,” so naturally my brother takes the portion of a small giant. They’re only given two minutes to eat, however, and those who eat slowly are reprimanded by the drill sergeants: “You can taste your food later, private!”

Soon after lunch, the baby soldiers are sent on a grueling run. My brother feels ill from his large meal, but he soldiers on. Suddenly one of the boys in his platoon keels over and vomits his lunch onto the ground.

This has a sort of domino effect. Two more privates begin to throw up beside him. It’s at this moment that my brother’s stomach turns. He halts and heaves the contents of his stomach onto the dirt track. Behind him, half the platoon follows suit. He glances to the side and catches sight of three drill sergeants who have fallen to their knees, laughing hysterically.

Another lesson he has learned is solidarity. One day his drill sergeant bellows, “Who took my bolt cutters?”

My brother, straight-backed, shouts in the customary military fashion, “I believe they’re on my bed, drill sergeant.”

The sergeant orders him to go fetch them and to be quick about it. In the meantime, the rest of his platoon is instructed to do push-ups. As he darts up the stairs, he hears, “Waiting for you, battle buddy! Waiting for you, battle buddy!” They shout this in unison with every push-up.

Seized with panic, he picks up speed as he climbs six flights of stairs to retrieve the bolt cutters. His efficiency is rewarded with a sprained foot.

Stay in school, kids.