Lessons failed …

home-of-the-combat-medic-corpsman-and-pararescue_mousepad_LOGO-MPAD-1_larger_1378527981_largeThe following 2 weeks after our first inspection we were on restriction. The rest of the company, Bravo Company, were enjoying Company wide weekend pass every weekend. We had weekly inspections from this point on and for those two weeks the C.S.M. found gigs that weren’t even on the inspection list. The first weekend, our platoon sergeant had “nose hair too long for Army standards”. The following weekend, everyone in our platoon, according to the C.S.M., didn’t “fluff their pillows the way the President of the United States likes ‘dumbasses’ to fluff their pillows”. There seemed to be a message being sent to B. Company, and it was at our Platoons expense. I remember becoming consciously aware of something very personal to me. First, I hadn’t smoked any weed now for over 3 months. Physically, I felt incredible. Mentally, I was clear headed and aware of things that had eluded me in the past. Lastly, more importantly, I was passing my tests. Instead of looking for things to do on weekend pass… I was studying.

The seventh week of Medic School we were given pass. We swept, stripped, mopped and buffed the barracks floors with G.I. supplies. We had 3 different waves of teams scrub the latrine from top to bottom. We made our bunks the night before the inspection, inspected each bunk together then slept on the floor so not to mess up the bedding. We threw away ALL contraband, inspected our wall and foot lockers and got hair cuts at the P.X. (Post Exchange) two days before the big day. We studied the weekly module together and tested each other in case we were quizzed. Ive never been so prepared for an inspection in my life. The inspection started at 0900 and we were informed we would be the last platoon to face the C.S.M.. We re-inspected ourselves countless times for the next 30 minutes. We stood by our bunks, at the position of attention, for three hours… only to be told the C.S.M. didn’t want to ruin his weekend by looking at us. He gave us a pass because, “your barracks are beginning to smell from you being in it all the fucking time. Get out of my barracks.” Our Cadre Sergeant told us what he said.

The make shift pre party planning lasted about an hour. Our whole platoon was invited. We rented a hotel room, got 12 cases of beer, some wine coolers (per request) and one bag of potato chips with dip in case anyone was hungry. This party ended with a platoon full of student Combat Medics sleeping in their clothes all over this hotel room. We were one case of beer down, 11 cases still sitting in the bathtub, with one empty bag of potato chips the next morning. I fell asleep next to the cute blonde and some kid from Pittsburg who snored so loud he could wake the dead. We tasted freedom, as a platoon, for the first time (for some of us) since Basic Training started 16 weeks ago. Freedom is an AWESOME thing… so is alcohol after 16 weeks.

As the weeks went by I kept studying the way other soldiers had taught me. I failed one test, was put on restriction for the weekend, which forced me to look again at the Module I failed. It was the 9th week of school. The test was on evacuation procedures, treatment and classification of the wounded in order of priority (triage) and proper communication over a radio for evacuation. I still struggled with passing over a casualty to save a life. After I failed the test, some kid from the state of Washington started to make fun of me. I don’t remember exactly what I said to him, but it shut him up so fast that I began to laugh. So did the rest of my platoon. The truth is, looking back, I don’t remember being that disappointed in myself before this time. I was over sensitive and this kids remarks got to me. I took it out on him. I studied all night Friday and well into the next day. I left my barracks for some fresh air and was approached by this wild looking red haired female. I don’t remember where the cute blonde went, but we had no commitment. Other than falling asleep next to each other in a room full of soldiers, we had no intimacy or promise of intimacy at this time. The red head invited me to the E Club (enlisted club) on base later that night. It was on post so I could go. I accepted the offer and went back to my barracks to shower and put away my modules. I would study more on Sunday.

I met her at the E Club. I wasn’t old enough to drink alcohol legally at this time so I ordered a coke. We made small talk and she invited me to the parade field. The parade field, legend had it, was where young soldiers could meet and talk “intimately” without interruption. It was dark and a good distance away from our barracks. We walked there holding hands and I felt the blood begin to rush to below my waste. I couldn’t focus my mind on anything but her skin and how soft it felt in my hand. We found some bleachers and sat down on them. We continued to talk for a few minutes, when out of the shadows walked the kid from Washington and about 6 other soldiers behind him. Washington wasn’t talking, however. Sullivan, a kid from upstate New York, seemed to be extremely agitated about something. He was calling me off the bleachers to stand in the dirt with him. Without thinking, I climbed off the bleachers.

Before both of my feet were off the bleachers, he was striking my face over and over with powerful right hand punches. I never stood a chance the way I exited the bleachers directly at him. Before I could realize what had happened, my nose was broken and my left eye was swollen shut. On instinct, from four years of high school wrestling, I dove for his legs. He sprawled out, caught me in a choke hold and I was beginning to fade out. Someone came up and stopped it before I went black. The red haired girl, Washington and the rest of the crew walked off laughing as I stumbled my way back to the barracks that night….

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