Bootcamp is broken up into three phases. The first phase
is the tearing down process and introduction to basic skills.
Phase two is marksmanship and the third phase is the building
up and testing phase. But as the following story will show,
even the third phase has its share of games.
Our platoon, 3075, had just won final drill competition.
We had won the physical fitness test (PFT) but were not the
highest scholastic superstars. In fact, we were quite ignorant
as a group. But when it came to anything physical, we excelled.
After winning drill, we all were pretty elated and felt on top
of the world. To the drill instructors, this was a situation
that had to be taken under control. And this is what happened.
Senior drill instructor SSGT Wertjes was our daddy. He
was the "good cop" in the "good cop / bad cop" routine. As a
reward, he decided to give the platoon a most unusual treat.
He wanted to give us some M&M's. Earlier in the training, one
of the recruits had received two rather large bags of M&M's
in the mail. Since candy was contraband, it was confiscated
by the drill instructors. SSGT Wertjes ordered SGT Robinson
to hand out the candy. He yelled at everyone to get there "nasty
bodies" into his classroom (the open area in front of the duty
hut where we received instruction).
As everyone crammed in and sat down, no one knew what was
happening. But this was nothing new; we always expected the
unexpected. Out of the duty hut came SGT Robinson with a large
bag of M&M's in each hand. His demeanor and face was still that
of an irate madman, as usual. He walked over to the podium,
slammed down the candy in disgust and scanned the platoon with
obvious disapproval. He said nothing for about five seconds.
Everyone felt guilty for no specific reason. Eventually, he
said in his usual angry manner:
"Senior Drill Instructor SSGT Wertjes has ordered me to
distribute this pogey bait to you pigs for your performance
at drill. Personally, I don't think you deserve it!"
His voice raised in volume
"Here is how it works, ladies. Each of you will take a
small handful and pass it on. You will eat these fat bombs here
in the classroom and only here. Just throw them down your nasty
sucks. Just let me catch one of them in your pocket. See if
I don't bend you all until you cry."
He then threw one bag to the guide and yelled "Begin!"
We had not had candy in months. This moment was monumental.
As the bag went around, you could see that everyone was heeding
SGT Robinson's words. We could not eat those M&M's fast enough.
After we were done, we realized what was going to happen. The
Senior was leaving and SGT Robinson was on duty that night.
We were all going to pay hard for each one of those M&M's.
Watching Senior leave was like watching a boat leave you
in shark-infested waters. And SGT Robinson was the baddest shark
of them all. As the Senior left, he barked "Guide, get these
worthless scumbags in formation outside, RIGHT FREAKIN' NOW!"
We knew what was coming.
When we got out there, we were marched to the sandpit where
we noticed that our third DI, SSGT Garcia was standing. The
sandpit was approximately the size of a football field and SSGT
Garcia was at the far end. As we approached, SSGT Garcia loud,
accented voice boomed across the pit. "FALL IN!" This meant
that we were to run over and fall into formation. We all dashed
like madmen. Once we got there, SSGT Garcia was screaming how
slow we had been and told us to hit the deck. By now we were
all sweating and as SSGT Garcia barked commands to do a variety
of exercises, at a pace no human could keep, we all became "sugar
"SIT-UPS, ONE TWO, ONE TWO PUSH-UPS, ONE TWO ONE TWO, TOO
FREAKIN' SLOW BENDS AND THRUSTS, ONE TWO THREE FOUR, ONE.. SIDE-STRADDLE
HOPS, ONE TWO......."
After a few minutes of this treatment, an explosion erupted
in the form of SGT Robinson's single command--- "FALL IN!" He
was at the other end of the pit. We scrambled to our feet and
ran over to him where he continued our "Incentive Training"
or IT. This back-and-forth routine was repeated for about a
half-hour until the defining moment in our platoon.
We were doing flutter kicks and blazing speed. I looked
over to my left where PVT Howard was and just as I looked, four
M&M's rolled out of his pocket. In horror, I looked up just
in time to see SGT Robinson who saw the exact thing I did.
The world as I knew it up to that point ceased to exist.
Suddenly, the world exploded into a nightmare of screaming.
From nowhere, three other DI's appeared. One was SSGT Garcia
and how he got across the pit as fast as he did I will never
know. The two other DI's were one's that I had seen occasionally
but where they came from is still a mystery. But it did not
matter, stress was being laid down thick. The pace of IT went
from insane to stark-raving mad. I have never been that scared
and that tired in all of my life. Finally, we were marched back
to the barracks looking like the Baton Death March. But it was
far from over.
When we had received the M&M's, we were only given one
bag and 1/4 of that bag was left over. As the IT went into high
gear, SSGT Garcia had slipped away to the squadbay. He and the
gear guard took the 1 and 1/4 bags of M&M's and thrown them
across the squadbay. Then they had stomped them until you could
not take one step in the squadbay without stepping on a crushed
As we entered the squadbay, we all saw what had happened
and were terrified. The squadbay was always required to be spotless
and this definitely was not spotless. The DI's never hesitated.
"GET THOSE GALL-DARN BLOUSES OFF YOUR UNDISCIPLINED BODIES
AND CLEAN MY SQUADBAY!!! YOU WANT TO DISRESPECT AND TAKE ADVANTAGE
OF THE SENIOR?! THAT'S RIGHT, JUST STAB THE SENIOR IN THE BACK!
YOU DON'T CARE, AS LONG AS WHAT YOU WANT. A BUNCH OF INDIVIDUALS!
YOU MAKE ME SO SICK I CAN'T EVEN LOOK AT YOU!! YOU ARE GOING
TO PAY FOR THIS!"
This treatment went on for hours. We had to take off our
blouses, turn them inside-out, and lay them on the deck. Them
we would bend over and push the blouse across the floor as we
ran from end to end. All the while, the psychological abuse
continued. Eventually, it was chow time. Even though no one
felt like eating, we had to go. We picked up our sweat-soaked,
sandy, chocolate-caked blouses and put them on. We had to unblouse
our boots and roll up the guidon like first-phase recruits.
We were to be put on disgraced display.
The worst part of this story is that it happened on Monday
so we had to wait until the following Sunday to wash our cammies.
You could smell us coming all week. Needless to say, PVT Howard
was not the most popular recruit for the rest of bootcamp.