by Thomas D. Wilson
“Good Morning, Drill Sergeant!”
I am an incurable smart ass.
Oh, let me introduce myself. Thomas D. Wilson.
First generation Scottish American, ex-tank driver, expert tire thrower, shortest one on my dad’s side of the family for generations in spite of being 5’8″. Aspiring Indie Author of two Science Fiction novels and writing more.
I would like to thank, Trista DiGiuseppi, for inviting and allowing me to contribute a post on the sLp Blog.
Why am I a smart ass? I don’t know. I do know I can’t control it.
In the fall of 1985, I left Kansas City, Missouri and went to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training as an Armor Crewmen. Let me preface this with the fact that my father was an Air Force Drill Instructor in the early 1960’s. So I grew up with a lot of yelling! The yelling is genetic, because I can yell every bit as loud as my father ever could. Also, that I joined the United States Army just to piss off dear old dad, because he was ex-Air Force. I was so stupid back then that I probably wouldn’t have been able to make it into the Air Force if I wanted too. It is truly amazing how much smarter my dad became while I was gone in the service.
When you join the service you generally go to basic training and then get shipped somewhere else for what the Army calls AIT where you get trained for your Army job or MOS. In 1985, if you joined up for Armor you had basic training and AIT together. Eighteen weeks at the beautiful resort Fort Knox in the same barracks, and with the same Drill Instructors. One claim to Fame is that if you ever watch the movie “Stripes” staring Bill Murray, you get to see the same barracks we stayed in and we ran the very same obstacle course they did in the movie.
So being an idiot with the debilitating handicap of also being a smart ass and wanting to make a good impression with the Drill Instructors, the very first morning before PT, in our little square, as the Drill Sergeant came out I spouted off with, “Good Morning, Drill Sergeant!”
I can’t remember all the wonderful things the Drill Sgt. had to say about me and too me at the top of his lungs. I do remember that it involved being several levels below snail shit and some sort of scum, and I thought I got the point long before he finished screaming at me. Apparently unless you are spoken to you are not worthy of speaking to real live people, and especially to Drill Sergeants. At what point through the first day I lost my memory of the mornings educational processes I don’t recall.
The next morning when we got assembled in our little square before morning PT, when the Drill Instructor came out the door, I spouted off with, “Good Moring, Drill Sergeant!” Again I was re-educated as to the social order of the universe and reminded of how stupid I must be for not remembering the day before and repeating the same mistake. Did I mention the push-ups, before, during and after the yelling, which should have helped to reinforce the lesson into my non-existent mind? We had two drill instructors, Drill Sgt. Holsenback, and Drill Sgt. Bowser, I will never forget those two sweethearts and I hope they are still telling stories about me.
The next morning I had a similar mental break down and said “Good Morning, Drill Sergeant.” The punishment got increasingly more difficult as they realized just truly what a dumb ass they were dealing with. Over the next few weeks, every morning, in spite of the punishment I repeated this exercise of utter stupidity! At one point I said, “Good Morning, Drill Sergeant!” and just dropped and started doing pushups. When I finished and jumped back to attention in the formation the Drill Sergeant said, “Now do some for me!” Back down I went.
Within the first three weeks of Basic and AIT I got to where I could do 100 pushups at one time and repeated this feat multiple times throughout the day. I went into the Army weighing 235 pounds at five foot eight inches tall to only weighing 165 pounds eighteen weeks later when I graduated Basic and AIT. Most of this physical training could have been avoided if only I could have disengaged my smart ass mouth from my non-existent brain. One time in particular Drill Sgt. Bowser was bouncing the brim of his Smokey the Bear DI hat against my chin while he yelled at me; he was much shorter than I was. I smirked and chuckled as a thought crossed my pea sized brain.
“What in the Hell is so Freaking funny?” He didn’t say freaking but you probably get the point.
“Drill Sergeant. My daddy yells louder than you do, Drill Sergeant.”
You have to begin and end each sentence with the words ‘Drill Sergeant.’ First off I shouldn’t have thought that, I definitely shouldn’t have chuckled about it when I did, and never in a million years should I have told the Drill Instructor what I was really thinking. That was one of those moments when I got plenty of practice in the proper art of doing pushups and how I had trouble counting because I had to keep starting over. The Drill Instructors looked up my records within the first few weeks and found out my dad was a DI. That’s when the games really started, but I had been a really good little soldier growing up and knew the rules. You do what YOUR Drill Instructor tells you to do! For good or bad, until death if need be. I thought a few of those days I was going to be killed, some days I prayed for death, or worse that I might get kicked out and sent back home to my father.
Every day I said “Good Morning, Drill Sergeant!” After the fifth or sixth weeks even the Drill Instructors couldn’t keep a straight face anymore. It was so freaking stupid it was hilarious! That didn’t stop the yelling or the punishment; I’m sorry, PT and training.
Drill Sergeants are not allowed to drop you and make you do pushups while you are in your dress uniform, some sort of rule. I’m not much for rules. So on Graduation day I said Good Morning to the DI and when he informed me of how he couldn’t drop me in my dress uniform I said for him I would do them for myself.
I dropped and gave him twenty pushups in my dress uniform! I didn’t want to break the streak.
My father seemed over bearing before I went into the service. He prepared me well for the hardships of reality. He was proud of me in spite of me going into the Army. Like I mentioned earlier, my father got a hell of lot smarter while I was gone in the service. All the way through training, shit my father said would come back to me and finally make sense. I was glad to see him when I returned home. I remember later thinking he could have been a bit harder on me. I know I gave two Drill Instructors a really hard time in a polite, very respectful, and absent mindedly obedient manner. I ruined a Drill Instructor Trainee that showed up for part of one day, but that is another story for another time. My father and I are good friends and we respect the hell out of each other, which is the way it should be.
I want to give a shout out to one of my blogs followers that will surely see this and appreciate it, for he was there with me through Basic Training and AIT all those many years ago. HOO RAH T.J. Hooker!
Thomas D. Wilson
“Whisper” and “No Rules Of Engagement”
Check me out on http://about.me/StorytellerTDW
See My Author Page at : http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StorytellerTDW
Follow My Blog at : http://thomaswilsonstoryteller.blogspot.com/
Follow me on : Twitter at StorytellerTDW