If you live in the barracks...

on base, you live under a microscope; you and your room mate must police or clean up your own room and you’re every move is being watched. If you live in base housing or “out in town,” you, as the brown bagger, will be expected to participate in the ‘junk on the bunk’ and uniform inspections as everyone does. For base housing, the housing inspector visits all neighborhoods weekly to ensure that the exterior is clean and in good order otherwise; you will receive a nasty-gram but your command will receive a copy even sooner.

It was some time later after getting into a routine; my unit would be tasked to participate in a joint exercise which meant that we had to convoy all of our vehicles and equipment to Fort Whatchamacallit. We had many extended bed 5-ton trucks and new high mobility, multi-purpose wheeled vehicles (#HMMWVs) to haul missile launchers, RADARS, and vans (box-looking equipment from which missiles are launched) that were mounted to the bed of a few trucks. It was the heat of summer in July when my unit convoy left for Georgia, traveling at 45 mph and no air conditioning. This was my first operation or exercise with the unit so I was labeled a “boot.” I was a newbie with the unit and because I have never attended this particular exercise.

My unit soon settled into a bivouac area where we would operate and be camping out and soon, I and all of the other newbies would be subjected to a mock trial. There we were, everyone gathered in a semi-circle with one of the tallest guys in the unit presiding as the judge. One-by-one, each newbie was brought before the judge only to be found guilty of anything including that of a “newbie.” I was specifically found to be guilty because I am a ham operator and a geek. It soon became apparent that we were going to be punished according to how many charges we received – for me; my hands were tied together and, in turn, they were tied to the pintle hook on the back of a HMMWV vehicle. I was dragged through the woods and mud puddles for about 20 minutes before being released; “Welcome to the unit.” Back then, this formality was commonly referred to as “slamming” but by today’s standards, it’s called #hazing.

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