Thursday, July 13, 2017


When I joined the military, I was a skinny kid. Not exactly sure what I weighed at my induction, but when I got married a year later I had to undergo a physical and they listed my weight then as 137 lbs. I was just over 6-3. Yup, a walking Majdanek survivor.
I was healthy though, and I ate well, believe me, very well. When my metabolism slowed at about age thirty, I packed on weight. Lots of weight. I was active. I'd worked on the farm, and then in construction after dad retired. Physical stuff, and we went long hours.
Any way, after I got on active duty, I was assigned to an armor unit at Ft Riley, the main reason I'm called a Kansas redneck not a Minnesota redneck. I'd been there a couple of months when they put a road march on the training roster. To tread heads, that meant going for a ride down range in 60 tons of malfunctioning metal. WRONG, this was going to be sixteen miles hoofing it, over hill over dale, Hey, some one help Dale before he gets trampled any worse.
Being I was the unit commo guy, guess who was going to be humping the PRC-77? I was also the unit Guidon bearer, fun times. Now, tankers don't have much need for small arms, most of the guys in the company only carried a 1911 and one guy in each tank had a grease gun. Me? A 203. I should be glad we left the crew served stuff in the arms room. This weight is starting to get serious, plus this was in summer, and we were going in full MOPP gear. I don't remember what our rucks were supposed to weigh, change of uniform, mess kit and a few other assorted items,maybe 40 lbs. I'd love to say it was 80 lb rucks, but I'd be a liar. The PRC with battery was close to 20 lbs, and I carried at least two spares. This was starting to get up there for a 135 lb split rail.
Well, off we went. Some where just past mid point, we stopped for lunch. As I recall, the mess sent out sandwiches and apples. All of us had pogie bait, and I had a six pack of Coke. They did a foot inspection, Battalion medics were kept busy applying bandages, lancing blisters, and making sure every one had plenty to drink. In my guard days most of us had metal canteens so we could have booze. Not here, although a few of the guys could have used a stiff one.
Once we got back to marching,  the CO decided that a little running with that guidon would do wonders for morale. He wasn't going to be the one running though, you can bet on that. The CO was a Texas A&M grad. He'd played football for them, I don't think he started, just on the roster, but he was in fair enough shape. No, it was the skinny kid with the three pack a day habbit who was gonna boost morale. Let me tell you, an Armor Company spaced out in standard road march configuration stretches for just a few yards. We had close to 80 men, and spaced out and staggered, is close to a quarter mile. That's OK on the trip down the line, they are coming at you so he first leg goes rather quickly. That return trip is a little longer. Plus, I was expected to keep the guidon above my head, spinning it like a helicopter.
After I'd made a trip, the CO's driver took it for a lap. Several of the NCO's also made the journey, but by that point, most of the DATs were feeling a little worse for wear. Still, the CO kept rallying us. Had to look sharp for the Battalion CO if he decided to make a tour.
At some point in there they hit us with CS. It wasn't bad, since Kansas on a still day has winds in excess of 5mph, it was a minor inconvenience. We still had to keep the dang masks and gloves on until they deconned us at the RP. Then it was in the deuce and a halfs back to the unit.
When we got back, almost every one was at the point of dropping. It had been hot, none of them were used to walking, and certainly not in full gear. The CO made a couple of passes through, then headed to his office. The rest of us had to clean our weapons and masks, then turn hem back in. They also had the medics there looking at every one's feet. most of the soldiers switched in to shower shoes. I had to return the radio to the commo shop on top of all that, so didn't bother with switching. I hated shower shoes any way so just stuck to the boots.
Pretty soon, its Hey Jeremy, go check with third platoon, not all their weapons are in. Up the stairs I went. Then it was hey Jeremy, first platoon hasn't turned in their protective masks. I think at that point I was the only one physically moving unless forced to.
Then the first shirt asked me to get a head count from the platoons, some of the guys had gone to the TMC for additional treatment. When I returned to the 1SG with the report, he motioned me to go in to the CO with it. He had his boots off and was treating his poor feet. I walked in tot the CO's office, and he had two trash cans full of ice that he'd plopped his feet in. Acted like I'd caught him selling pot to grade school kids. When he saw I still had my cruit boots on, his attitude got even worse. He yelled at Top who yelled at the medics who came in and demanded I remove my boots for a blister check. What the heck? This is mandatory? Yes, how did you miss that? I was returning the radio to the commo shop. My feet were fine. I was the only one in the company with out any blisters. For all his bravado, the CO had a ton of em.
My explanation? I walk a lot and I enjoyed walking. Whether hunting or just being in nature, putting one foot in front of the other was something I did a lot of.
When I PCSed to Germany a year later, I walked a lot there. One one occasion I walked from Ramstein to Eselfurth, then back to base. Another time it was Kusel. Caught the bus back from that one.
I still like to walk. My weight has doubled, one of my knees has gone bad, but it is something I enjoy, a chance for peace and quiet, alone with nature and my evil inner thoughts. Running? Meh. It was ok when I was young.

No comments: