When you joined the US Army, at the reception station, they gave you one last chance to drop in the Amnesty Box (no questions asked) all your contraband – your brass knuckles, Oui magazine, num-chunks [sic] etc. — this was back in the day when soldiers would be escorted from the barracks in handcuffs for adultery, gay soldiers could get locked up, soldiers were administered Antabuse if they got in trouble for an alcohol related incident, when we ran our two minute mile in combat boots, toilets –20 in a row –had no partitions between them, a sergeant with two other troops would smother a knucklehead soldier with his laundry bag seconds before he passed out, we worked out with barbells made of two coffee cans filled with cement with a bar in between them, you joined up with fingers orange from weed roach stains your recruiter telling you to lie because weed use would mean a meeting with a psychiatrist, dogs would run through the barracks on surprise middle of the night inspections sniffing for Amsterdam bought hash (Larsen Barracks, Kitzigen West Germany), we chanted on basic training runs I don’t know but I’ve been told Eskimo pussy is mighty cold and If I die on the Russian front I want to be buried in a Russian cunt, our SMART book (kept at all times, constantly, in the right cargo pocket of your BDUs) advised us to carry a small pebble in our mouth during long road marches to prevent dry mouth, we lit Kiwi cans on fire for a better polish, slept nude in those extreme cold weather sleeping bags, heard rumors constantly about saltpeter and undercover CID agents, called AFN Ain’t Fucken Nothing so instead bought Traci Lords videos at the PX before she would’ve landed you in prison as a Chester, had mo-gas blow up in your face in one of those field hot water drums, knew what lifer stood for (lazy ignorant, etc), knew the maximum effective range of an excuse, wore our gas masks in the field outhouses, got stuffed, really really stuffed in actual cattle cars when we were transported around.
And those crazy smart medics who went downrange (to the German clubs) in trench coats with dyed blond hair where they listened to the most hard metal industrial hateful angry noise music, and aways seemed drunk and on the smirk of beating you senseless — they purloined medical needles from med supplies with which they pierced your ear, the other hole was opened with a potato for the needle handle (holes so big they still haven’t closed, thought they were yanked out in any number of fights).
After basic we couldn’t wait to get tattoos — we were in Virginia and went to the only place that did them — a red neck trailer compound with an old man who had a tracheotomy but still smoked through the hole in his neck — he had overalls with no shirt on underneath and was quite fat. His son did the coloring. There were about 4 tats to choose from on the wall — MOM, hearts with swords through them, etc. this was 1984. I choose two off the wall, one looked alright with just the outline and when the blood dried and it came time to color I said leave it as it is. Trach-man wrote something on a piece of paper and showed it to his son. His son smiled and sad Pops called me a pussy because I you was afraid of the further pain. One of the solders who was with me kept on fainting during the tattooing and couldn’t finish. Of course all the tats got infected and sergeants threatened us with destruction of government property (ourselves)
In basic training, we knew a “gun was for fun” and to clear your weapon, your M-16 jam you slapped, pulled, observed, released, tapped and squeezed — but they paid for college and made you an independent adult if you didn’t get an Article 15 or fail a piss test or get sent to Mannheim or Camp Humphreys or Yokosuka or bolo basic because you no-go’d by setting up a claymore mine facing the wrong way or couldn’t figure out how to shoot a damn azimuth (I still can’t). And troop — never ever ever lose your DD-214.
Recover. Smoke em if you got em, but field strip that cigarette. Ah, slang and jargon before Google democratized it all. We kinda liked, we kinda loved it, we kinda wanted more of it. Request permission to speak? Speak. More PT drill sergeant, more PT. Make me an exceptional warrior monk gangster with a moral code.