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Mr. D
06-10-2008, 08:40 AM
Another side of people who post:


The Drill Instructor

By Mr. D (1968)

I thought it might bring back some memories to a few of you older guys!


As the cattle trucks arrived, I began to wonder what possible reasoning process I could have used that led me, a supposedly intelligent individual, to choose to leave a safe, comfortable civilian life, and join the California National Guard. Then, the reality of the problem came back to me! It was the 60’s and the Vietnamese War was not going well! The politics of it made no sense to me. It was a repeat of France’s mistakes in the French Indo Chinese war! I didn’t want to die in a war I honestly couldn’t support, but I wasn’t the “wear love beads and take off to Canada hippie type” either! I was eligible for a college draft deferment, but that didn’t feel right either! So, I joined the California National Guard as a compromise I could live with. President Kennedy wanted the training of troops speeded up, so some of the older, senior paratroopers where sent to Fort Ord, California for a break and to train recruits!

Now back to the cattle trucks! Now when I use the term “cattle trucks”, I don’t mean people trucks on which you will be treated as cattle. I mean cattle trucks, as in t-bone steaks, top sirloin, or hamburger. We were loaded on the cattle trucks. Again, you must understand that when I use the word loaded, I am using it as one might when you load four more sweatshirts in your suitcase by having a friend sit on it, while you try to close the latches. We tried to take turns exhaling on the two mile trip from the Army Reception Center to the basic training barracks that was to be our new home. When the cattle truck finally halted, a Master Sgt. Drill Instructor appeared on the ground at the rear of the truck. As the tailgate was removed, a blood chilling fact became all to clear. We had to exit the truck by jumping to the ground in front of the most unfriendly looking member of the human species I’ve ever seen. Now understand, I’m not talking “The Vice Principal wants to see you!” unfriendly!”, or “Your Father’s upset with you!” unfriendly. When I say unfriendly, I mean,” Where do you want the body sent!” unfriendly! No one moved!

He was six foot five inches tall, and his name was Sgt. Mines. He had served in W.W. II in the Philippines, in the Korean War, and in Vietnam, and he looked it! His uniform was starched, and tailored to fit him like a fine leather glove. From spit polished boots to glassy black helmet, he was the ultimate warrior, not in the John Wayne movie sense, it ran deeper, much deeper! He had a look about him. A look of a man who had snapped, killed once too often, and had begun to like it! We all avoided his eyes for fear that to look into his eyes might be seen as a challenge. You don’t look into the eyes of man who has killed, and killed often, unless you don’t fear him. Anyone with eyes, feared Sgt. Mines! Sgt. Mines looked at us and slowly smiled! I don’t mean a “Hi there!” smile. I don’t mean a “I’m your camp counselor!” smile. I mean an “Isn’t it fun to pull the wings off flies!” smile. No one moved!
He began, “ I’m Sgt. Mines, and it’s my job to make an example out of one of you! You little girls are probably wondering what I mean by an example! You see, you snot nosed babies have probably been told that we can yell at you, but we really can’t hurt you! Wrong! It’s my job to find one of you who is a little too smart, a little too slow, a little too pretty, or just someone who I don’t like the looks of. We’ve found that once you’ve all seen some blood on one of your pretty, little girly faces, that the rest of you seem to begin to understand!” No one moved! Having said that, he smiled again. This time more like a cat with a trapped mouse, trying to decide when to end the game and eat it. He slowly reached around the side of the truck, with the look of an ancient executioner, and brought forth a baseball bat. Not just any baseball Sunday afternoon in the park baseball bat, but a 48 oz. Louisville slugger with red, white and blue circles painted in patriotic bands from end to end. No one moved! Hell, no one even breathed!

Somehow the fact that the bat’s colors reminded us of the American flag, the 4th of July, Mom, and apple pie, didn’t seem to make anyone any more interested in dying for his country, while his army style haircut, or scalping, depending on your taste in haircuts, was still fresh! With that, Sgt. Mines unceremoniously helped us down from the cattle truck. He grabbed the closest raw recruit, who must have seen all of his eighteen years of life pass before his eyes in a flash, and drug him off the truck screaming, “Will you be my example, will it be your young blood on the ground?” Having decided to reject the boy much in the way a farmer rejects a defective tomato, he threw the poor frightened soul in a cowering heap on the ground. The boy was not yet spared by the grim reaper with stripes. Sgt. Mines swung the bat at the owl eyed child’s head, just missing him with the accuracy you might expect from a five million dollar baseball player hitting .500, or a soldier of years of combat experience. By that time the front rows of those poor souls in the cattle truck were pushing backward like sand crabs into those behind them with such a force as to squash them together into one army drab green mass of back-pedaling, panic stricken children. Until that day, I had always wondered what it must have been like in German submarines when the depth charges ripped them open, and the water started rushing in!

I had never seen raw animal panic before! Most of them would have pushed their gray haired mother in front of them to avoid the dance of death with Sgt. Mines. As the Sgt. climbed into the rear of the truck he began to throw bodies to his left and right like green sacks of irritatingly useless trash, garbage bags of defective humanity. The ship was sinking, but no ships captain was necessary to sound the alarm “Abandon ship!”. The rats were going over the sides of the cattle truck with, or without lifeboats. Icy waters, sharks, the dark unknown were all preferable to the sure death that moved steadily towards them. As Sgt. Mines stalked them like an enraged animal, they threw themselves overboard. He swung at them viciously with his club of death, hoping to connect with one young head, and see it go over the centerfield wall! There most be some angel, or saint that looks over the young and defenseless, because we all escaped alive! This angered him to new heights, and he swore he would make us all pay, and pay with our bodies, pay with our souls! We spent that night running up and down flights of stairs in the barracks carrying our wooden foot lockers, rifles in full dress combat gear. It got worse, much, much worse! We learned to hate the very sound of his voice! He lived to make our lives miserable, and he was so very good at it! Days turned to weeks, and weeks to months. By now we had come to look at Sgt. Mines with through different eyes. He had done his worse to us. He had pushed us, ridiculed us, tortured our minds and bodies, and to our surprise we were better for it! He had lived through three wars, and survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines in WW II. He knew that if we ever did have to go into combat our only chance was to believe we could always reach down deeper, and there would be something there. Maybe that something was Sgt. Mines saying, “If you’re too tired to walk girls, run!”

It was graduation day, and he appeared as usual, starched and shining with black helmet, swagger stick and that arrogant look on his weathered face. He had just taken a pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket, and had not had taken the time to rebutton it. To a basic trainee, in Sgt. Mines company, an unbuttoned pocket received “The Mines Treatment”. I seized the moment. I had been through basic training with Sgt. Mines. He had thrown machine guns, mortars and grenades at me. What more could he do? Twisting up all my courage, I marched up to him and stood at attention, and said in a loud and clear military voice, “May I see your pocket knife Sgt.?” With a curious frown on his face he reached into his pocket, and handed me a small pearl handled knife with an army insignia on it. I said, “Thank You Sgt.!” I then proceeded, in a ceremonious fashion, to cut off the offending button to the breast pocket flap that he had left unbuttoned as he had done to so many recruits in the weeks before. He started to smile, and then caught himself and said, “Thank you Private!” He turned and walked away without looking back.

The cattle truck was there, and had delivered its new group of green recruits. It waited to pick up the boys it had left ten weeks ago, but those boys were no more. A more confident group had taken their place, occupied their bodies, and filled their spirits. They were coming out of the barracks, a little browner, and a little wiser. A familiar face was waiting at the rear of the cattle truck, but this time unusually quiet, and without the Louisville slugger. He didn’t say much at time like this, it wasn’t his way, the usual things, good-bye jokes and teasing, always the teasing. Towards the end, as it was time to leave, he became even more quiet. He shook our hands silently, because he was unable to speak. We understood. We didn’t try to get a response. We could see the tears forming in his eyes. Some things don’t need to be said. It was all there to be seen in his face. It was just time to go!

I put in my time in the National Guard and became a Staff Sgt. My unit didn’t get sent to Vietnam, but I came very close to getting it in the Watts Riots in 1965! Odd to see dozens of soldiers behind sand bags with weapons, pools of blood and gasoline bombs on the front steps of an American High School! The soldiers at the seiged school told me my 2 1/2 ton diesel scared the armed mob away because they thought my driver and I were reinforcements! It was the two of us with hot food and empty weapons! Had they known that, I wouldn’t be here today! Due to the brilliance of my C.O. all I had for defense was a Ruger 22 pistol hidden in my jacket. When I returned to the base I was threatened with a court martial for refusing to go back with no ammunition for our weapons. I won the argument! The 60’s were an interesting time to live though!

I didn’t fully understand what was going through the minds of men like Sgt. Mines until I had become a teacher and watched my first class of kids leave the school. You can’t go with them to help them through the problems that lie ahead. You can only hope you gave them a few tools and a good push in the right direction. I never saw Sgt. Mines again after that last day of basic training. I guess I didn’t need to, because he’s still with me today! Thanks for the push Sgt. Mines, wherever you are!

JerrySharrett
06-13-2008, 02:09 PM
Another side of people who post:


The 60ís were an interesting time to live though!

I didnít fully understand what was going through the minds of men like Sgt. Mines until I had become a teacher and watched my first class of kids leave the school. You canít go with them to help them through the problems that lie ahead. You can only hope you gave them a few tools and a good push in the right direction. I never saw Sgt. Mines again after that last day of basic training. I guess I didnít need to, because heís still with me today! Thanks for the push Sgt. Mines, wherever you are!

D, that reminds me of Sgt. Michael Marindino, January 1962, Ft. Gordon, GA. "Dino" didn't threaten anyone, he didn't have to. There is a better way, and no, it isn't the way it is done now either.

Think about it, the late 1960's is when we turned America over to the people who run it now and are determined to destroy it. Nope, it is not a Republican or Democrat thing. It is lethargy. A successful democracy is a participatory effort. A citizen must vote, send the successful candidate to the seat of government, then, then, must stay in touch with them to tell them what we the people want done.

Now most of the eligible citizens don't even vote let alone stay in touch with their government leaders. That practice will not last long.

tylerw02
06-13-2008, 02:13 PM
I don't know about you, but it appears to me the founders never intended us to have a democracy and I've seen no mention of it in the constitution. Democracy is a horrible form of government.

Mr. D
06-13-2008, 02:29 PM
Tyler,

I think you are using democracy in it's narrowest definition which most of us refer to as "pure democracy" where all the members of a small town get into a room and vote for each issue with no protection of minority rights. The most common usage of the word democracy is like of a republic like the U.S.

Democracy - a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

Mr. D
06-13-2008, 02:36 PM
D, that reminds me of Sgt. Michael Marindino, January 1962, Ft. Gordon, GA. "Dino" didn't threaten anyone, he didn't have to. There is a better way, and no, it isn't the way it is done now either.



In some ways it is a shame everyone male and female doesn't get to go through the service and meet a Sgt. Mines or Marindino. It was a positive experience for me. The kids in my English Class once said, "Mr. D, if it's so easy why don't you write about something in your past and read it to us!" :p So I did!

tylerw02
06-13-2008, 03:36 PM
Tyler,

I think you are using democracy in it's narrowest definition which most of us refer to as "pure democracy" where all the members of a small town get into a room and vote for each issue with no protection of minority rights. The most common usage of the word democracy is like of a republic like the U.S.

Democracy - a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

Yeah, that is why the word was NEVER used in the Constitution. And you would do well to also note, the "whole population" wasn't grated voting rights by the Constitution....and still haven't been. That is up to states to decide with the exception Senators and Representatives...original intent was only House Reps.

Mr. D
06-14-2008, 12:13 AM
Well, it is obvious that the high minded ideals of the Declaration of Independence didn't carry forward into the Constitution. Blacks and women had to wait quite awhile to be considered for equality. You could fight and die for your country in WW II, but still not have equal rights at a drinking fountain or public school when you returned home. Our country is a work in progress.

In any case democracy is a concept that predates the Constitution.