Saturday, July 25, 2015


We were arranged by alphabet, last name. My platoon had all the guys whose names started with P or R or S, like Phillips, Schuppan and Rooney.

Private Rooney should not have been sent to the Army, but some well-meaning numbskull thought it would "do him good." The Drill Sergeant asked me (errrr, not exactly how he said it) to teach Rooney some basic drill commands. Left face, Right face, About face. Well, Rooney didn't know his right and left and About Face was similar to the golf swing described as an octopus falling out of a tree.

Not my job, but I told the DS that Rooney was not capable of learning this stuff, and I was absolutely positive it was not faked, but genuine.

One really hot day, when every part of your body and uniform was soaked, it was time to "test our gas masks." It was founded in something a lot more sadistic than that, I am sure. Instructions: Put on your gas mask. Walk into a concrete block room. Stand in lines. When the Drill Sergeant gives you the command, remove your gas mask, state your name, rank and serial number, salute, wait for the return salute and the command, Excused, and walk outside.

By the time I got to the front of the line, my skin was burning, especially where the CS gas got into creases, like your neck or your elbows. Taking that breath after saying that stuff was awful. By the time I got outside, I thought I would drown on all the fluid coming from my eyes, mouth, and nose. Coughing, gagging, and it persists.

Meanwhile, Rooney ended up in the back of one of those lines. When the first guy was instructed to take off his mask, Rooney thought they were talking to him. And he just stood there for a while until somebody noticed that he was going to die in that enclosed room and got him out of there.

They took him off to sick call, and we never saw him again. Hope they didn't think it would be a good idea to recycle him.

Among life's little learning experiences, I learned that if they wanted me to demonstrate and tear gas was threatened, I would just cheer from the sidelines, far away from that stuff.

No comments:

Post a Comment