Saturday, August 11, 2007


Somewhere within any work situation, you will find “slackers”, people who try to get by with as little effort as possible. Sometimes, they try to get out of the work altogether. The military is no exception!

Slacker number 1 - The flight returned from the firing range about midday about 3 weeks into training and got no response at the barracks door. Wondering what the holdup was, the DI pushed his way up the stairs to the entrance door, banged heavily at the door, and yelled for “Barracks Guard!” There was no answer and no one could be seen through the little 10-inch pane of reinforced glass.

The DI yelled down to one of his assistants and the guy ran off toward the Orderly Room where the First Sergeant of area had his office. Soon the DI’s assistant returned and handed the door key to the DI.

The DI entered our barracks area and made a motioned that told the rest of us to be quiet and wait in place while he checked out the situation.

Soon the DI came out and told us to follow him in but that if anyone made a noise he would have his ass. Therefore, we tiptoed, following his lead, back through the barracks to the rear emergency door.

There, slumped in a metal folding chair, was the Airman from Oak Ridge (I cannot remember his name) who had arrived with Woody, Tom, and me. At first glance, I thought something horrible had happened to him and my throat tightened.

The DI motioned for us to ring the chair quietly and we did as he instructed. That was when it hit me that the Airman was just asleep…asleep on duty – my stomach turned over!

When everyone was in place, the DI kicked the chair as hard as he could and yelled, “Airman, what the hell are you doing?”

The poor guy caught himself before falling to the floor, then settled back and looked red-eyed around the room. It was obvious he was very embarrassed, but could not prevent the corners of his mouth to begin a smile.

The DI yelled at him for a long time while we all stood by frightened for him. We were waiting to see the DI kill him right before us - it never happened. Instead, he screamed “Attention,” causing the Airman to jerk into position fighting for control over his nervous muscles.

Long story short, the Airman was marched out of the barracks and over to the First Sergeant’s office.

Later we found out that the troop was “sat back” 3 weeks, all the way to the beginning of basic training. He would have to endue his first 3 weeks of basic all over again with a new class or rainbows. I could not imagine how that must have felt and I resolved to try even harder to stay out of trouble.

Then there was slacker number 2. His transgression we handled our selves!

G.I. parties involved coordinated teamwork, work the Flight Leader was responsible for and answered directly to DI if not done properly.

The party consisted of different groups of trainees being responsible for specific areas of the barracks. Some took the latrine, others the dayroom, while others took on the entire tiled barracks floor. The latter was my group, and a job I preferred over the latrine, but it was still hard work.

First, we moved all the bunks to one side, swept, and mopped that side, before applying a wax that required buffing out. As I have said before, we had no electric buffer, so one or two guys pulled around on G.I. blankets substituted. One side being done, the process began on the opposite side.

I might mention that there were two sides of the barracks, each a long expanse of floor with two rows of bunks mirroring the opposite side of the wall that separated and split the barracks area. Therefore, what was happening on one side of the divider was also happening simultaneously on the other by another group. All this is to point out that there was a lot of work going on with Airmen running everywhere at top speed.

As my side was finishing one-half of its side, we notice a guy lying across his bunk, obviously asleep! What the hell,” someone said aloud?

The Flight Leader looked over and became furious, knowing it was his ass on the line. However, instead of yelling, he decided to teach the troop a lesson.

About six of us circled the bunk, reached down, got a grip, and then hoisted the bunk above our heads, forcing the bunk, and thus the troop’s face, directly under a large bright florescent light bank. At that point, the Flight Leader yelled “FIRE!”

The troop panicked and jumped to his feet in mid-air and crashed to the hard floor below!

We dumped his bunk upside down and laughed at the startled and how hurting slacker who lay looking up at us puzzled.

That guy never slacked again and I’m sure slept with at least one eye open for the next couple of nights.

This was actually a very mild group message. I heard of some flights that dished out “blanket parties” where the slacker or screw-up was ambushed, rolled up in a blanket, and beaten almost unconscious! One guy was even killed after either blindly stumbling or being pushed down a flight of stairs during a “blanket party.”

When the whole group pays for the transgression of a single member, the group takes things into their own hands.


~Fathairybastard~ said...

Man, you've gone from boyhood fun and easy times, to hard serious shit. Mirrors the actual experience of going from boyhood to manhood. Well done.

I did two years of Air Force ROTC in college, and got out just before they were going to send me to Lackland and put me through some semblance of this experience. I decided that I was really only in ROTC for my dad, and didn't want to try to relive his life. Looking back, I kinda wish I'd gone, but I would have had to give them four years of my life then, and that sounded like a hell of a lot of time at that age. I'd also found out that I needed glasses in my second year of college, and they couldn't let me into pilot training with those. That was probably the clincher. Silly, the choices you make, and the reasoning of youth. Maybe I would have enjoyed it, trying for some other gig. Who knows.

Hammer said...

I wish society handled our slackers and miscreants in the same manner.

Marie said...

Poor soul who went down the stairs. I'd hate to have that on my conscience.

BRUNO said...

I was wonderin' how long it would take you to gettin' around to the "parties"!

Like ya' said, when it's EVERYONE'S ass on the line for what ONE screws up, desperate measures do indeed rear their ugly heads! The offender either learns, or "gets-learned"! And when you're just a lowly enlisted, you have no say in the matter---that's why they have such a thing called ORDERS to follow...!

jan said...

Peer punishment can certainly be the most effective in changing behavior for the long run.

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Aw Mushy, I've missed you, my friend! Horrible yet funny times, eh? Peer pressure always works, sometimes (not always) for the better..

I love your writing, you take us there, right with you, it's a gift you have.

ps. Can't stop, still can't get that gold paint quite scrubbed off my arse..

Kuanyin said...

Hey it's been a while since I visited your blog. And surprise, you've had a blog make-over! Looking GOOOD! And of course, your posts are always terrific stories!