A to Z Challenge 2013

Friday, April 15, 2011

A To Z - Lost In The Woods

Many years ago, I went through Basic Training in the Army at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri (or as we more affectionately called it "Ft. Lost-In-The-Woods").  Okay, so it's a stretch for an L post, but I've got some fond memories of the place, even if it was rough at times.

If you've never been in the military, you may not understand how I can look back so fondly on a time when I was basically treated like crap - on purpose no less - for 8 weeks straight.  They tell you when you're in Basic Training that those 8 weeks will be ones you look back on and remember the most.  They're not wrong either.

Most soldiers have a ton of stories and probably half of them revolve around Basic Training.  For me, Basic was when I learned to grow up a little and believe in myself a lot.  People that knew me in high school can't believe how much I changed.  It wasn't all fun and games though.  For example, I had to buy back my M-16 rifle from one of the Drill Sergeants after leaving it leaning against a half wall on the grenade range (I heard them call for chow time and my brain never properly engaged, I guess).  The payment consisted of holding this 10lb weapon straight out in front of me as MY Drill Sergeant regaled me with the longest tale ever about some soldier who had left his weapon in a latrine during WWII (or something to that effect).  I thought my arms would fall off by the time he let me relax.   I never left it anywhere again though.

Then there's the time when a fellow soldier and I got busted for being at the Main PX (aka Walmart on base - before there were Walmarts) on Memorial Day.  See, we weren't allowed to go there, but four of us soldiers had gone into business (sort of) taking keepsake pictures of our fellow soldiers and sell the prints to them directly from an Insta-matic camera.  We ran out of film and didn't want to miss out on the potential sales (I guess), so we took a chance and went to the PX anyway.  Of course, it was my own Drill Sergeant who busted two of us while the other two hid.  To this day I don't know why, but my Drill actually stood up for us when we had to go before the Captain for an Article 15 hearing (a form of discipline where you can be demoted or even lose money from your paycheck).  Because of him, we only got 15 days restriction and extra duty.  To say I was relieved was an understatement.

Or how about the reason I can't stand barbecue sauce is because of Basic Training.  See, we were out in the woods on bivouac (aka camping Army style) and the first morning we had to wake up about 2 A.M.  They handed us breakfast in the form of MREs (Meals Ready-To-Eat).  And back then they didn't have all the cool ones apparently available nowadays.  No burritos, no pizza, etc.  No, my first meal was cold barbecue beef chunks in a plastic sleeve.  I was so grossed out I couldn't even take more than one bite.  I suffered along with no food until the sun rose so I could get a good look at the rest of the meal, which thankfully included an awesome chocolate bar and some of the thickest peanut butter I've ever encountered.  I tossed the latter on the former and gulped it down, followed up with a delicacy we used to call Ranger Pudding (coffee and cocoa mixed together with just enough water to make...well, pudding).

I could go on and on, but that's probably enough.  Suffice it to say that Lost-In-The-Woods was a great experience, even if I did get tired of doing push-ups.  Oh, and I know I'm behind a letter but I'll catch up tomorrow.

What is one of the favorite places from your past?  And why is it memorable?


Huntress said...

An eatery in Arkansas is a memorable place for me where people signed their names on the low ceiling and the cooks served platter-sized biscuits.

Love your blog! A to Z Challenge struck again, leading me to a wonderful site.

Great story :)

Keena said...

Loved your stories although I almost gagged about the ranger pudding....LOL

Eric said...

Huntress - Oh wow, that sounds so cool. You should send me an email to estallsworth at com cast dot net and let me know where in Arkansas that is. My parents live near the border in Missouri and they'd probably love to go check that out.

Keena - LOL, awww it was really good actually. Thank you though. Glad you enjoyed the stories.

Matt Conlon said...

I'd have to say a buddy's cottage in NH. I caught my first fish, I rode in my first canoe, I went water-tubing for the first time, met my first girlfriend and subsequently had my first kiss, saw my first shooting star, saw my first deer fawn carcass that had been half eaten by someting, had my first (and first thousand) ticks, attended my first bonfire, had my first whipped cream pie shoved in my face, split and stacked my first chord of wood, repaired my first dock, laid my first wood floor, took a car out onto the road for the first time, bought my first slingshot... I'm sure there are lots of other first, but that's all the comes to mind right away. :)

Great post! I love memory stories! (In case you couldn't tell from most of my A to Z posts! :D )