Just in Case You Run Out of Bullets...

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EDITOR'S NOTE: TIME Daily writer Frank Pellegrini, at a ripe 27 years, has taken a leave of absence to join the Army Reserve. He is undergoing basic training — boot camp — and then will spend several months in an Army journalism school. Given the difficulty the forces are experiencing in recruiting young people these days, we think his experiences and impressions are worth sharing. Here is the seventh missive; others will be posted as they arrive.

"Kill! Kill!"

It was Sunday, and the platoon was stuck with a training session because Saturday had been swallowed up in 16 hours of KP duty.

But this was about as good as it gets, at least so far: Bayonet drills. Fifty of us in an empty classroom, slashing, thrusting and smashing our way through imaginary commies, yelling "kill" with every move and tossing out the creeds in unison: "Blood, blood, blood makes the green grass grow, drill sergeant!" and "Kill, kill, kill with the cold blue steel."

Goddamn right. I was sweating, my eyes were saucers. Every fourth or fifth yell I'd remember Burnham the hippie in front of me, and get a little sheepish. But it never lasted. This was what I came here to find.

See, so far our rifles, some well-worn M-16's, have been a little disappointing. Mostly we just carry them around — our first trip to the range is weeks away — and our first attempt at zeroing our sights, on Friday, was a disaster.

Our Basic Training unit is the guinea pig for a new laser-based sighting technique that's supposed to speed up the calibration and learning process. Our one day with it proved only that the drill sergeants aren't any better at learning our tricks than we are — and probably worse. It was total chaos, and half our platoon never even got to switch the things on.

But it's amazing what an eight-inch blade will do for an empty gun, even sheathed, and what a little savagery will do for a soldier-in-training who's beginning to think he's going to maid academy.

Kill? Goddamn right. "Kill!" Oh yeah, this was the stuff.

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