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The Last Hurdle (Read 430 times)
Rat Man
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The Last Hurdle
Mar 23rd, 2023 at 2:06pm
 
     I did army Basic Training in the Summer of1975.  The Marine's have their Hell Week.  We had something similar but we simply called it Tactical Bivouac.  After six and a half weeks of being tortured in more ways than you could possibly imagine unless you've endured it the final test was Tactical Bivouac. 
    It started with a week of bivouac, which is the army's term for camping out, except with extreme sleep deprivation, constant tear gassing, physical exhaustion, and of course a good dose of humiliation.  The grand finale was a twenty four mile forced march with full gear through the alluvial deep sand of Ft. Dix, New Jersey. 
     We started out sometime during the day... I don't remember exactly when.  The march required us to walk through the entire night.  By this time all of those not cut out for military life had been weeded out.  After all we had endured, those left were going to finish this march or die in the process.  There was no quitting at this point.  The prize was in sight. 
     The day was normal enough.  By now of course we were used to marching long distances with full gear in that deep sand.  Through early evening everything was OK.  But as the night wore on things started to get strange.  Guys started falling asleep while marching.  They'd just keep right on marching, off the trail and into the woods.  We'd throw pebbles at them to wake them up.  I couldn't imagine marching in my sleep until it happened to me too.  We also began to hallucinate.  No pink elephants or anything like that.  Most of the guys saw big purple spots in the middle of the trail blocking their way.  You'd see a guy marching and suddenly he'd veer off the trail as if something was blocking his way.  "Yo, what the hell are you doing?"  "Don't you see that giant purple blob in the road?" 
     In spite of our mental malfunctions we all made it.  By morning we were back at the barracks.  For our remaining days of Basic there was a different vibe.  The Drill Sergeants were no longer trying to weed out those who couldn't hack army life.  Of course we still had to endure the strict Basic Training discipline but we had made it.  From here there was nothing left but graduation. 
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« Last Edit: Mar 26th, 2023 at 2:01pm by Rat Man »  
 
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joe_meadmaker
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Re: The Last Hurdle
Reply #1 - Apr 2nd, 2023 at 12:35pm
 
Definitely an example of pushing people to their limits.  I was never in the military.  I was talking to recruiters after high school, but my mom really pushed me to go to college.  And I don't say that in any bad way.  She still left the decision to me.
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Rat Man
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Re: The Last Hurdle
Reply #2 - Apr 2nd, 2023 at 2:25pm
 
   For me the army was a good choice.  There was no money for me to go to college and my life was going nowhere.  I went to college afterward under the old Vietnam Era GI Bill.  I didn't serve in Vietnam but I signed up in time to take advantage of it. 
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Rat Man
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Re: The Last Hurdle
Reply #3 - Apr 20th, 2023 at 3:21pm
 
    I'd just like to add that though most people hated Basic Training I actually liked it.  Of course there were parts of it that I despised but overall I was happy there.  That probably sounds crazy but there was a sort of peace in the single mindedness of it all that I'd never known before.  For eight weeks nothing else mattered... not my sorry education, not my love life, not my future... there was only one thing to focus on.  Getting through Basic.  I was completely free from everything else.
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