Laughing at a Military Enlistment – X Marks The Spot

People have been asking for samples from various books. My buddy and I wrote one about some pranks that were pulled during time spent in the military. This is just one of many of the stories told in the book Laughing at a Military Enlistment.

I hop you enjoy, and if you do, buy the book. It is funny from cover to cover.

Chapter One

Anyone who has ever been in an armor unit will know a fundamental truth of life.  A large part of your career will be spent in a motor pool working on any of the hundreds of little (and some not so little) things that will go wrong with your mechanized gear. This is especially annoying when you are stationed in the middle of Texas, and it happens to be the middle of a summer because, well it gets pretty damn hot.

In one particular instance, this time spent in the motor pool, combined with the heat caused some enlisted men with too much time on their hands to get, well, slapstick crazy, and more than a little silly. This is worsened inside those nice ovens known as track vehicles. The low part of triple digit temperatures would be considered a mild day inside those damn things. It makes you tired, sweaty, and caused your mind to start looking for a way to think about anything else.

Now that the stage is set, so to speak, when a cherry shows up in an army unit, any army unit, the enlisted guys immediately get to work having fun with them. A cherry, to a group of enlisted guys is a special thing.  That is the FNG (freaking new guy).  It is a soldier who has yet to be violated, for lack of a better term. In other words, someone who has yet to have their cherry popped.

All of that being said, when a new guy shows up on one of these hot days, well, it isn’t his fault that it was his first day, but he is going to suffer…juuust a little bit.

The medical tracks for combat medics during the time this took place were all old M113A3 models that had been converted for medical evacuations and treatment. These are metallic shoeboxes on tracks, and for lack of a better term, about as ugly as any vehicle could possibly be. They are louder than a Metallica Concert (we speak from experience), and slower than Christmas when you were a kid.

One of the most hilarious ways to mess with a cherry who had never worked with track vehicles before was to convince them to check the armor for soft spots.  What this means is you take one dumbass, a four-pound hammer, and convince him to work his ass off in the sun doing something that has absolutely no purpose, other than making him sweat, and other people laugh (hopefully behind his back).

This begins by convincing the FNG to take the hammer and whack the shit out of the sides, top, front, back, bottom, and every other surface of the damn vehicle and mark with a big assed X anyplace they thought the armor was “soft.”

To add insult to injury you give him a pink piece of sidewalk chalk. Why not just give him a girl color on top of it all?

Boys will be boys.

On one hot, mid-summer day we had an FNG enter the platoon. The poor bastard was a Staff Sergeant (E-6), who was transferred in from an Aviation unit.  How the man had avoided armor units until he made E-6 no one was sure.  At that point in the afternoon no one cared, we had a cherry to mess with, and we really needed some stress relief, so we started to have some fun at his expense.

What else can you do?

It is a vital part to platoon morale to mess with the new guy.

That is our story, and we are sticking to it.

One of the co-authors of this book, and the perpetrator of this particular prank, was a Specialist at the time (E-4) and had spent his entire career in armor units. That did not work in favor of the FNG when he innocently asked what he could do to help with the weekly PMCS (preventative maintenance done on all vehicles).

Anyone see it coming?

Perhaps the FNG should have known better given how long he had been in the Army, so really this is all his fault if you think about it.

He was told that someone needed to check the armor on this particular track as it was the “Queen,” then to move on to the others in the section. So, it should be added that this was done within earshot of absolutely everyone that was in the area at the time.

If the FNG had listened he could have heard any number of people snickering, coughing, or doing things they could use to cover up the outright laughter. Perhaps he could have saved himself some suffering, but this was not his lucky day.

The man was handed the heaviest hammer within reach as well as some chalk that just “happened” to be lying around, then a demonstration on how to check the armor ensued.

In the front of the vehicle, on the slope of the track, the armor was tapped in a spot where one of the interior bulkheads met the outer armor and thus, you get a nice solid “tink, tink, tink” sound.  Then the E-6 was told, “This is the sound you want.”

Then, in a second area, not backed up by a bulkhead is whacked with the hammer and a more hollow sound is heard. This area gets a bright pink X.

The hammer is then handed over to the FNG. He was asked if he had any questions, and since there were none, the perpetrator who got him to do this headed off for other vehicles to do real maintenance.

The higher-ranking man, the E-6, or FNG, just said that, “of course there are no questions.” He told the lower ranking E-4 miscreant to get his ass back to work on the other tracks.  Then there was some obligatory remark about the E-4 having scuffed up boots.  The son of a bitch E-6 even dropped the perpetrator (told him to do some pushups) for the boots at this point.  This was when everyone still wore black leather jump or jungle style boots that required polishing from time to time.

Anyone with experience can tell you that no matter how shiny those things are at the start of the day after four or five hours of crawling on, in, and around the vehicles they are scuffed to crap if you have done any real work.  So, feeling less bad about pulling the prank the E-4 perpetrator got to work saying something along the lines of, “Very well Staff Sergeant, and I want to thank you for your help.  I’ll leave it to your experienced hands,” as he headed off suppressing a laugh, with any feelings of guilt gone.

The perpetrator even thought, pleasantly, ok roto-dick (a derogatory term for a helicopter maintenance guy), I got your number.  This won’t be the last prank, and I won’t let you off the hook anytime soon. I hope you drink a boat load of water and avoid dehydration, the sweat bath is about to begin.

For most of the rest of the day many people, including some of the senior enlisted (who knew exactly what was happening because they had done this back in their more junior days), came by to check on the new E-6.  Not one time did anyone let on that there was something not exactly right about his tasking. It actually became a sort of game to go see the “Queen’s” new paint job, and to compliment the FNG on the job he was doing.

All afternoon you could hear, “tonk tonk tonk”, followed by a “shit this track sucks,” or “fucking piece of shit’s armor blows” among other, more obscenity laced rants.

To add insult to injury it we feel compelled to mention that this was the battalion motor pool. That means there are a whole bunch of people walking by offering suggestions, or constructive criticism to the E-6 on the outstanding (or crappy, depending on the person commenting) job he was doing.

Four hours after this began it was time for the close of business formation.  This was held down in the motor pool where everything, and yes that means absolutely everything, is inspected by the First Sergeant.  This includes cleanliness, straightness, proper parking alignment, or whatever the hell else the senior most enlisted guy in the formation wanted to screw with the junior guys for.

Now, in this formation, is the entire headquarters company for the mechanized infantry battalion.  Well, almost everyone, a new Staff Sergeant was missing, and there is a First Sergeant out, walking around, doing his normal checks on the vehicles.

While everyone was waiting, pretty much in silence, all of the sudden the Top (First Sergeant) explodes.

“Staff Sergeant, what the fuck do you think you are doing to that goddamned track It looks like a fairy farted all over it, then shot its load all over the sides.  What the fuck is the matter with you?  Are you fucking with me? Is this just a joke to piss me off at the end of the day? Damnit pimp (he called everyone pimp) get your ass off that vehicle and in formation.”

So now, there is one very, VERY pissed off Staff Sergeant, and around three hundred other people who could hear the First Sergeant yelling across the motor pool, (sergeants take a class on how to yell properly). Those three hundred people were doing their level best to not laugh, which is much harder than it sounds, and one man was contemplating murder.

It is especially hard to not laugh as this messed up E-6 comes toward the formation.  Not only is he drenched with sweat after doing this made up, absolutely unnecessary activity for four hours, for which you have to admire his dedication, but he is covered in a very fine chalk dust that has made his jungle camo uniform a very lovely shade of pink.

Needless to say, from that very first day, the nickname rotor-dick stuck with him for the rest of his time in the platoon.  While this may have been the first prank played on him, it was not the last.  He was a prime target of everyone because of his constant “in my last aviation unit” comments.  It may have also been that he was constantly making other such complaints like “mech infantry sucks,” or “I want to go back to Aviation.”

Whatever it was, he was the butt of many, many more pranks.



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