Ain’t Released Me Yet
Memoirs of a REMF
Copyright© 2016 by Robert B. Martin, IV
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the copyright owner, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. I have attempted to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them.
More PT, Drill Sergeant!
"A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood."......... General George S. Patton, Jr.
Basic Training was extremely physical. We ran almost everywhere and did more push-ups and sit-ups than you could count. Balancing the correct number of calories, grams of protein and fat, vitamins, minerals, etc. with the amount of energy expended in training was similar to maintaining a well-oiled machine. Most of us would be in top physical condition by the end of training. I know I was in the best shape I had ever been in or ever would be. Those that obese were in the worst possible shape and had one hell of a time keeping up with the rest of us. I did feel sorry for them but there was nothing I could do. I had enough trouble taking care of myself. When we ran, the fat guys would fall behind. They would moan and cry, stumble and fall. A DI would get behind them and kick them in the butt while screaming about what “sorry lard-asses” they were and what Charlie (aka the Viet Cong) was going to do to them once they got to Vietnam. It was cruel and unusual punishment. I still find it difficult to believe that the Army could get away with mistreating trainees in such a manner.
A picture in the yearbook, received at BCT graduation, showed trainees doing push-ups with the caption, “I don’t think I’ll ever forget the Army drill #1, especially exercise #6 - the push-up…” That is probably the most accurate statement in the entire yearbook. I hated PT, especially Army drill #1, exercise #6. During a session of PT, I would anticipate with dread the inevitable command, “Assume the front leaning rest position!” It was a misnomer as there was nothing restful about it. Once in this position, it was “Up one, up two…” We became very familiar with the front leaning rest position.
Most punishment, as I have already mentioned, was in the form of pushups that were usually done in groups of twenty-five. After six or seven weeks of training it was not very difficult to drop and pump out a hundred pushups.
I was a bit skinny and somewhat deficient in upper body strength when I entered BCT. I was also about seven years older than the average trainee. They were right out of high school and were in decent shape. I had been drinking beer and growing soft during the almost seven years since graduating from high school. A few push-ups were bad enough, but fifty or a hundred at a time were pure hell for me at first. But by the end of BCT I was very proud of the number of push-ups I could do.
Another exercise, which was extremely difficult, was the horizontal ladder. It required a great deal of upper-body strength. You held onto the rungs of a horizontal ladder eight feet above the ground and moved from one end of the ladder to the other and back again by “walking” with your hands from one rung to the next. The rungs were metal and even though extremely cold, gloves could not be worn during the exercise, making it even more difficult. We were also wearing winter clothing and combat boots.
There was a PT version of the “Goon Platoon” called the “Fat Platoon” where trainees would be sent if unable to perform PT at the level required. This was not the same as being recycled. The trainee remained in the training class but was required to spend extra time in PT in hopes of increasing the trainees’ strength to a point where he could be expected to pass the dreaded PT Proficiency Test at the end of our eight weeks of training.
I remember having a PT test almost every week in preparation for the final PT Proficiency Test. A certain minimum score was required to prevent being recycled. The tests were brutal but I passed them all. After the first week’s PT test I wrote home “the final event was the mile run, that was the only thing I did worth a damn in. I ran it in 7 minutes flat for a score of 83 points out of a 100.” Seven minutes may not sound so hot, but remember what we ran in. Not sneakers and shorts, but combat boots and a lot of clothing.
After our first PT test the Senior Drill Instructor (SDI) decided we weren’t in good enough shape and took us out after supper that night and ran us hard for about half an hour. We were almost dead when we finally got to climb into our bunks that night. The next day a rumor was going around that the SDI was going to wait until just before lights out that night, when we were undressed and ready for bed, to take us on another night run. Just in case the rumor was true, we all sat around fully dressed in our boots and cold weather gear so that if he did come we would be ready. It was good that we were prepared because he did come. He took us on a seven-mile hike that night.
To be continued in Chapter 11, This is My Rifle, This is My Gun!….