The sign outside the building read: “12th Evacuation Hospital”, however the building didn’t resemble a hospital at all. The roof was pitched like a house, yet the ceramic tile roofing was an odd contrast to the tar roof tiles back in Chicagoland. Also, the building itself had plenty of windows. The discolored stucco paint on the outside walls of the building was peeling off in large unmaintained sections. I knew, before I even entered the building, that this was the barracks. Old, crusty and dilapidated barracks.
I walked through the door and approached the white female soldier sitting at the desk. I purposefully dropped my duffle bag then snapped to the position of attention. I loudly exclaimed, “Private TwistedMedic reporting as ordered.. um.. private”. I hadn’t noticed that the female sitting at the C.Q. desk was also a private. She just shook her head at me in disgust and replied, “you may want to work on that before you report to the C.O.”. I just assumed she was being sarcastic.
I reported to the C.O., a Major, who brushed off my attempt to report with a wave of his hand. He told me he was proud to meet me. He asked me general questions about where I was from and how was my flight. I stumbled through the rigorous interrogation, giving honest answers then was told to report back to the C.Q. desk for my room assignment and a tour of the base. As I approached the C.Q. desk, the sarcastic female soldier had a friend with her. A black sarcastic female soldier. The white soldier exclaimed, “Oh boy, here he comes again. You should watch this, he has no clue what he’s doing”. I purposely didn’t report a second time. My no reporting attitude caused them both to laugh uncontrollably.
I was given my room assignment and key to the room. I climbed the stairs to the second floor. These barracks, I noticed, were very old. The hallways smelled old. The paint looked old. The door to my room looked old. I inserted the key and turned it to unlock the door. I noticed the door even sounded old. I opened the door and noticed only two beds partitioned by two wall lockers. A two man room! I was so happy to be in a two man room that I couldn’t hold in the enthusiastic “Yes!” I feared that the next five years of my life would be spent living in an “open bay” type barracks. I had become accustomed to the open bay during Basic Training and Medic School. This was more of a small, non descript studio apartment with old paint and an old smell. I could work with this. The rubber insulated floors, however, were extremely shiny. The Army, so it seemed, believed that shiny floors produced victorious battles. The discolored yellowish paint on the walls was peeling off, in large sections, revealing surface mold on the underlying swath wood structure. The aroma of sweat and mold floated in the air like a greasy burger fart but, Goddamn it, the floors were shiny.
I put my duffle bag on the unoccupied bed, glanced at the organized occupied side then changed from my Class A uniform into my B.D.U.’s. Once I was dressed, I head back to the C.Q. desk. The two sarcastic females were my tour guides through base over the next couple of hours. I noticed several N.C.O.’s, of all colors of skin, bustling through the first floor office rooms. Apparently, the first floor was business and the second floor was barracks.
My escorts showed me the chow hall, the movie theatre, the small P.X. (Post Exchange <the army version of a grocery store/clothing store>), the chapel and the Eagles Nest(Enlisted Club).
As we walked around post I learned that they were both supply clerks. The white soldier was from Indiana. The black soldier was from Texas. The Indiana soldier, a PFC (Private First Class or E-3), was the lead. She explained, through her sarcastic point of view, about life on base and in the 12th Evac.. The black soldier, a PV2 (Private or E-2) seemed to be flirting with me. I could never tell, with southern women, if they were flirting or not. She referred to me, in a deep southern drawl, as darling. Either way, I was cautious of flirting because they both out ranked me. I didn’t want to get into trouble of any sort. At least not on the first day.
I felt comfortable enough to ask them questions about what I would be doing day to day. They looked at each other as if a wrong answer could get them into trouble. Indiana decided she would field the question once Texas became mute.
Indiana explained that all medical personnel were in the “Motor Pool”. The Motor Pool was where all equipment and vehicles were stored and maintained. She went on to explain that there were several different platoons in 12th Evac.. A maintenance platoon, supply platoon, HQ platoon, X-Ray/O.R. platoon and Medic platoon. Medic platoon, according to Indiana, spent “every damn day” in the motor pool. She was unsure why we spent every day there but expressed absolutely no desire to find out. She said Medic platoon held the meanest N.C.O. in the company. SSG Hunt.
I found it odd that she pointed out a mean N.C.O.. The N.C.O.’s throughout basic training and Medic School weren’t exactly delicate little flowers. Then I remembered her and Texas were supply. This was all interesting and different to me. The whole thing seemed different. I liked their laid back sarcasm, however, I didn’t consider them like the girls I went to H.S. with. These two women had sharp creases in their uniforms and their boots were shiny as hell. They both seemed to be my age and were very attractive. I remembered childhood jokes, from grade school in Chicago, referring to mamas who wear Combat Boots. Nervously, I became aware those jokes were referring to these two women.
Upon completion of the base tour, Indiana told me to hang out in my room until 1700 formation. She would escort me and introduce me to my Platoon Sergeant 15 minutes prior (1645).
She told me, under no circumstances should I ever be late to a formation. Tardiness to formations means that soldier is A.W.O.L. (Absent With Out Leave), and that is punishable under U.C.M.J. (Uniform Code of Military Justice).
I had no idea what that meant, but it didn’t sound like something I wanted any experience with.