We spent most of our time “in the field” training with a ferocity of battle hungry warriors. On average, for every four weeks in a month we spent over three weeks in combat like conditions. Multiple rotations through N.T.C., weapons qualifications exercises, F.T.X.’s (Field Training Exercises) and a medical support role of the “swamp phase” of Ranger School were our primary focus. It was easy for any soldier to “burn out” on our training regimen and Medics were the first exposed to such soldiers.
We spent very little time in Garrison (the home base of soldiers not deployed to training or combat). The time we did spend in Garrison was spent mostly in the off post bars and clubs hunting for quick romantic rendezvous with local females. The local female population was aware of our hunting rituals. Armed with the knowledge of our pay rates and pay schedules, the “female local” was an equally determined hunter. This particular extra curricular activity was a delicate endeavor considering all the schools and units assigned to Ft. Benning. The base itself held the entire 3rd Brigade of the 24th Infantry Division, the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger), Infantry School, Airborne School, various other small specialty combat training facilities and a Latin American language training academy. Competition was animalistic and ferocious.
The off post selection of places to hunt was a vast smorgasbord of themed drinking establishments. There were sports bars every where. The problem we found with sport bars was higher ranked soldiers liked to frequent them. A career soldier was more likely to unwind over a few beers watching a televised athletic competition than go to a dance club. His presence usually attracted an older “milf” type of prey. The retro clubs also were home to older milfs. Being mostly in our early twenties, my friends and I would not frequent these places as much. C.J., however, liked to capture his prey through intelligent conversation about world events and literature. The retro clubs were his home away from home.
I found myself hunting mostly with the younger guys in my platoon. We found an ideal place in The Chickasaw, aka The Bucket of Blood. The Chickasaw played modern music and drew the younger females. Competition was fierce for both male and female hunters and the locale averaged ten fights a night on the weekends; hence the nickname. Training and planning for nights at the “The Bucket” was just as serious to us as preparing for battle. There was an ideal two hour window for arrival at the Bucket: between 10pm and midnight. That two hour window found the “not too drunk not too sober” female prey most prepared for us. Our uniforms of choice was loosely fitted coordinated clothing which served both romance and hand to hand combat situations. Lastly, we should have consumed at least a 40 oz. of Colt 45 each before leaving the barracks. C45 was the beer of choice and kept every soldier, no matter his ethnicity, happy. Plus we got deals for buying in bulk on base.
I found the “slicing the pie” method of hunting to be most useful at The Bucket. I would search the dance floor perimeter for “her”, the bouncers and any circling large competitor. Second, l would plan my attack, my words of introduction and escape route within five minutes of entering the facility. We would always have a rally point established before entering The Bucket. More times than not our rally point was the Hardee’s located two blocks away. Rally points were important in case we had to defend our prey’s honor, steal her from a competitor, fight our way out of the club or got caught in the not so rare full bar brawl. Hardee’s had a greasy menu and a clean latrine.
My newfound relationship status, stark raving single, plus my willingness to fist fight at any time garnered my permanent off post platoon rank of leader. The guys, once established in the Bucket, would keep me posted of their whereabouts at all times. We utilized the pack mentality of hunting and watched each other at all times. Never did we prey on the same female. Once we figured we had accidentally crossed lines of fire on a target the “first to spot” rule was in effect. We pooled our money to buy food, drinks, taxi rides and the like. We needed each other more than the prey or the money. We were a unit. We fought as a unit, ate as a unit, slept as a unit, shared our prey (if she was willing) as a unit and returned home as a unit. When we ran into infantrymen from our Battalion they would buy us drinks and identify us as “the Docs”. We were expected to join their unit for fighting purposes if we were needed and did so on a regular basis.
This glorious way of coming to age was what molded my way of seeing the world and the people around me. What I didn’t notice, however, was my appetite for violence and debauchery was growing at an alarming rate.