If you spend more than a day in the Army or Marine Corps you will have a story about your privates, and not just the ones that you play with in the latrine. Like any NCO will tell you there's the right way, the wrong way and the Army Way. It's not that all Privates are bad, I'd even argue most are pretty good, but, there are those. . . doesn't matter which way they go they just can't get it right. It doesn't help that the Birth Control Glasses will no doubt make these men and women look like giant nerds.
To the unenlightened, or uninformed, they will say "they're new, they don't know any better." So to make sure that there is no doubt in your mind that privates are a special breed, I'm going to tell you some stories from my own experience, and hopefully you'll learn just how hopeless these sad sacks can be.
The first story happened rather early on because well in Basic you're surrounded by Privates. Lets call our first private Private S. Private S looked Asian but he also looked really inbred too so there's that. now the first thing you noticed about Private S was his giant adams apple, and his massive overbite, to be thrown in with the fact that the dude was seriously a stick figure, and had some teeth that needed some serious work. Private S, also had a rather bad habit of leaving his weapon everywhere, and when he wasn't doing that, he was dropping it. The drills tried everything, dummy cording, giving him a Brain (giant brick) and dummy cording that, and in the end in exasperation one drill from another platoon tired him up like a Christmas present, and somehow or another while on a ruck march all those various points of attachment came loose and Private S dropped his weapon into the bushes.
To make matters worse Private S was also not the brightest pea in the pod, and had a battle buddy who we called Urkle. Sadly both Urkle and Private S had a bad habit of complementing each other's screw ups. Once while on a live fire buddy move range, Urkle fell asleep. When S noticed the Battalion Commander coming he tired desperately to wake him, sadly this did not end well as Urkle had an ND when S threw a rock at him, thus waking him up. All in full view of the BC. Private S was also hopelessly inept at his gas mask, I had to show him one of the tricks I had learned from a drill, and he still took an unGodly amount of time getting the damn thing on. This lead so some hilarity on the FTX when he (again) dropped his weapon, and when he couldn't get his gas mask open simply ran out of the Area of Effect of the CS grenade the Drills threw into our chow line. Private S, though will forever be endowed in my mind for the way the platoon had to push pull, and almost carry him the last mile of our last ruck march, feet Clomping along the whole time.
the next story comes a bit later on in my career. Private F. Medics have a bad habit of bullshitting, and our bullshitting is actually a bit Macabre. So I'm now a full bird Special Ass (Emphasis on both depending on the situation) and I read that this guy in Russia died after taking a whole bottle of Viagra and tag teaming his lady friends for 12 hours strait. They high fived, he got the money had a massive Myocardial Infarct and died. Wow says I that's a hell of a way to go. The conversation progressed and people threw out ways they wanted to go, and me being me said I heard some folks take a bottle of barbiturates in a bathtub and just kinda pass out go beneath the surface and drown. Well this clown has a WTF look on his face and I kinda laugh, go on and do the 20 odd details I've got to do to go home for COB. Fast forward 2 days. Idiot calls Staff Duty saying I'm screaming about killing myself. Keep in mind I'm watching South Park on my computer and laughing my ass off.
CQ is running all over the barracks looking for a screaming suicidal soldier, my chain of command is calling me, (which I didn't know because my phone was charging) and they're pretty much getting everyone from Company Commander on down working the phones looking for me, and trying to stop me from killing myself. I must not have known how much I wanted to kill myself because I was laughing my ass off when someone thought to knock on my door. This is the first time that anyone has actually spoken to me, and I had no idea why they were there. What proceeded is about 4 and a half hours of me calmly going before anyone that would listen trying hard not to laugh about how ridiculous this is, that this was actually the first I'd heard about trying to kill myself.
As if to add insult to injury I didn't get back to my room till 0230, and when I had PT the next day dipshit didn't even apologize to me. It all came to a head when I had to get the Ambulances to the Wash Rack and some genius in the Motor Pool had misplaced the Keys. I had gone all over the motor pool sent Private F to every possible location that they could be (I found out later that he didn't go to the office he said he did which low and behold the keys were) so I had to go all the way to 1SG to get permission to cut the locks. It being a time crunch because I'd just wasted from 1300-1500 looking for keys, and for some reason the wash rack closed at 1600. . . I told Private F to cut all the locks and we'd deal with it later. I get to the Ambulances with my brain bucket ready to go, and. . . the locks are still in place. WTF says I. Well . . . says he. I kinda blank on what he said here. Stop. 1SGo said its ok. You got the Bolt cutters like I said?
Would you believe it, he had not. Where did he look. One place then gave up. Fine. I throw my K-pot at him and tell him to be ready to go. I'm only going to have time to do one vehicle now, which just irks me because I would have had time to do 3 of the 6 if he had cut the locks when I told him to. So I went to the Company, got bolt cutters and with all possible haste go to the motor pool (which was a no running zone for some reason). I cut the Lock on the first Ambulance. Ok ready to go. Throw on your brain bucket lets go. . . oh you left it in your room . . . at this point my squad leader was there and he saw the look that crossed my face as I told him regardless of the no run policy he better double time with that helmet. as soon as he was out of ear shot my Squad leader looked at me and says Bailey, I know. Please please PLEASE don't kill him. I think I fully understand the Angst of being an NCO after one day of being in charge of PFC F.
The last story is of course me. Well I was a Private once. Well My Bde Commander in my first tour Col Lloyd L. Miles, was one high speed dude, but I didn't realize how high speed. I mean how often does a Medic PFC talk to an Infantry Col? See I heard this story about the Col that he had lost a leg at a grenade range, apparently someone had lost a grenade and rather than call EOD the OD wanted to do a sweep. Well someone kicked it, the spoon flew off and pow, Col Miles next remembers the Medic being over him saying he'd be ok. Well I called Bullshit on that. I mean Cols aren't up front leading battles like days of old but still they're not going to let someone with an artificial Leg into Iraq. Right. . .
So I get my chance to meet him. Somehow I had managed to be where he wasn't for most of the tour, and I wanted to keep it that way. He came to visit Dibbis and I was sure I had managed to stay as far as the official party as possible. I see a bunch of guys clustered tops off so I assume its safe. I walk up to them and there's this short Asian looking guy sitting on a box (that DCU totally hid him till I was up close!) I snap to attention, and he tells me to relax. He asked if I had any questions. Only one popped into my head.
"well Sir, I heard this craaazy rumor you had a Peg leg" I knew I'd screwed up when Chief Dawsey rolled his eyes and looked to the heavens asking if that had seriously just happened. Col Miles smiles and pops up to show me a very silver and very artificial leg. My jaw drops.
"Ah. . . I am SOOO sorry Sir."
He was a good sport about it, and was laughing. I lucked out that it took a while to get back to the FOB or I'd have had a nice little Article 15 waiting for me. 1SG Roared my name, and said
"Did you seriously ask the Col about his leg?"
"uh. . . yes 1SG"
"Fuckin Bailey. Get out of my office"
See what I mean. Give a private a chance to speak and they WILL put their foot in their mouth. Give a Private a mission and they WILL find a way to screw it up. Thankfully this condition is temporary, but, until it passes, remember all Privates out there, you are the Bane of all Logic Reason and Sanity. Try to remember that when you can see an artery throbbing in the temple of your NCOs and it looks like they really want to choke the life out of you.