From the Soldier side: The question came up: "Can you drive a stick shift?"
Yep, I can. When I was a very, very, very young soldier in a land far far away...I was told I was going to be a driver one day. Why me? Because I liked to drive and my platoon sergeant in the Army Infantry platoon I was in knew I could read and write well. Why was reading and writing important? Because I was stationed in West Berlin, Germany. (C/2/6) To be a driver in Germany you had to not only take the silly Army driving test, but you had to pass the German road sign and rules test. So one morning a group of 25 of us went to take the written test after breakfast.
By lunch time, there were only 3 of us left. 22 soldier failed the test. I'm not a genius or nothin' like that, but I guess I can read crap and remember it if I want to. So, I became a driver for something called a "Gamma Goat" truck. It had 6 wheels, a very noisy 3 cylinder engine behind the cab and it could cross water....sort of. It also had a 4 speed stick shift-- with high and low range/ 2 wheel-6 wheel drive. (check out the Gamma Goat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoXxYMbTBTk&feature=related thanks to P.)
I later got licensed on the Army 2 1/2 ton truck (also a stick shift- 5 speeds with high and low range.) a bus, a tractor trailer, the jeep and staff car.
Later in the Combat Engineers I was trained to be a driving instructor for the 5 ton dump, the HEMTT, the M-113A1 APC, the SEA, the loader/backhoe, and the good old HUMVEE.
Yep, I can drive a stick shift. The photos are from some of the fun training we did at Ft xxxx before deploying to Iraq. I was asked if I could drive a 5 ton cargo truck...yep. This model I had never actually driven before, but after about 10 minutes I figured it out. And it had an AUTOMATIC transmission! The training this day was on the weapons range...they wanted me to drive up and down the range so troops could shoot out the back and then dis-mount and shoot from the ground. I said I could do it, if I got to shoot each time. I did this all day long and it was good.