"Gentlemen, I have good news and bad news. The good news
is that if you prove that you're tough enough to make it through
this, you don't have anything to prove to anyone for the rest
of your life. The bad news is you have to prove it to me!"
- Patriot Games
I don't care how many times you have seen Full Metal Jacket,
A Few Good Men, or Heartbreak Ridge. Nothing is able to prepare
you for boot camp. One of the first things that you get accustomed
to is the nightly hygiene inspection. The drill instructor stands
in front of you (Looking as disciplined as you can while clad
only in your underwear), shines a flashlight in your face, then
you have to sound off. This serves two purposes:
1. It gets you used to yelling at the top of your lungs
on a regular basis.
2. It gives the drill instructor a chance to check you for
any injuries that would make you a candidate for medical attention.
The first night I had to face this was with Drill Instructor
Sgt. Pike: The biggest, meanest individual that I ever dealt
with at MCRD. He was walking down the line to look at the recruits,
many of whom were away from home for the first time in their
lives. This is a scary experience, make no doubt about it.
Across from me was a recruit who was intimidated beyond belief.
I remember listening to him when Sgt. Pike got in front of him.
"This recruit...err..uh..." he trailed off, unable to continue.
Only one thought was going through my head at this point:
Oh, no. I quietly felt sorry for this recruit, since now Sgt.
Pike's attention was even more focused on him.
"Try again, boy." He growled.
We're dead. That's all there is to it. We're dead. I heard
Sgt. Pike draw in a deep breath. The quiet voice of his betrayed
the anger that was boiling over.
"ONE more time." he warned.
"ALL RIGHT, THAT'S IT!!!" With a crash, the contents of
his footlocker were on the deck of the squad bay and Sgt. Pike
began to go through it.
"WHERE'S THE CRACK PIPE BOY?? WHERE'S THE CRACK PIPE??"
"This recruit doesn't have a crack pipe, sir!"
Sgt. Pike whipped around and got in his face. "OH HELL,
BOY; YOU'RE FUCKING UP ON SOMETHING THIS EASY?? YOU MUST BE
ON CRACK! WHERE YOU HIDING THE PIPE??"
I would like to take this moment to point something out
to the average reader. As a recruit, you are expected to keep
your bearing and not laugh or show any emotions at all. Well
with that last sentence, Bearing pretty much said 'I'm leaving
and will see you in the morning.' Luckily I was not the only
one who was laughing his ass off at this point.
While we calmed down, there were some who raced forward
and helped the hapless recruit gather his belongings. Sgt. Pike
was pressed for time, so he sprinted down the line, holding
up his flashlight and yelled "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU??" After
we all reported that we had no problems, it was in the racks
with the lights out.
Not that things were over yet. As Sgt. Pike walked down
the darkened squad bay there were still people that were laughing
at the misfortune of our fellow recruit. He looked around.
"What's the matter? Why aren't you asleep." He paused, then
nodded. "Oh, I get it. You want Drill Instructor Sgt. Pike to
tell you a bed time story?"
He was in front of my rack when I heard someone near by
say "yes, sir!" I felt my body temperature drop a few degrees
at that announcement. Luckily, he did launch into a story.
"Once upon a time there was a big mean Drill Instructor.
And a stupid recruit."
The story ended there, but I have no doubt who lived happily