From the Soldier side: Sometimes looking back on my National Guard days, I often asked myself: “Why did you stay in?” Remember I had been in the Regular Army in the old Berlin Brigade. In Berlin, we were spit shined all the time. We had highly polished boots, sharp creases in our uniforms and enough starch to stop a bullet. (well not really)
But, the National Guard in 1989 was nothing like that. We had some guys whose only job was the “One weekend a month” when they came to drills. It was easy to see why many of them couldn’t hold a regular job the rest of the month- they were too messed up. Many were drunks, lazy, slobs, or just dumb. Some were all of the above.
…All except the platoon I was in. Somehow I ended up in the best platoon. (Well, we had a few heavy drinkers, but they were “functioning alcoholics”.) It was good to be on a good platoon, but guess who they called on when they needed something done and done right? Our platoon.
Did I mention we had some heavy drinkers? We did. I think the worst were the cooks. Now for those who’ve never been in the military, you may not know that they actually send people to school to learn how to cook for other people. But, in our case, I suspect most of our company cooks fell asleep in cook school.
The first time I went out into the “field” (that’s where we’d camp out in the woods for the weekend) I found how bad our cooks were. Now write this down: “50% of doing any job well is just showing up!” Well, most of the times our cooks were too drunk to wake up the next morning or they forgot to come to drill one weekend a month.
…so there we were, bivouacked (military term for camping) in some woods near our armory. We had been running around all Saturday digging holes and stuff. When it came to dinner time, we were told that there was a problem, so we’d be eating MREs. The next morning for breakfast, we were expecting eggs, coffee and stuff…and we were told that there was a problem. So my platoon sergeant called me over to the hood of his Jeep. He opened up his ruck sack and took out a camp stove, instant coffee and a box of Pop Tarts. He said: “It’s another Pop Tart Breakfast.”
I learned that day to NEVER count on anybody to take care of my men or me. It’s happened in the Army and in Police work many times. Our cooks were drunks and when they finally woke up, I suggested that we tie them to the Jeep and drag them around in the woods.