Saturday, July 10, 2010

ITR - More ITR - Old Smokey

I had no sooner posted my last entry when I realized I forgot one of the best things that happened in ITR (infantry training regiment).

Well, it may not have been the "best" thing, but it was certainly the funniest thing!  Far less funny for those poor bastards who were involved in it, but rolling on the ground funny for those of us who weren't.

One particularly gloomy and overcast morning we were making our way up the fire break that went over "Old Smokey."  "Making our way up" is a relative term because the ground was wet and slick, so we were actually struggling to keep going.  Walking, climbing, or crawling. But always upwards!  I was pretty much busy in my own little private hell, just trying to keep up the pace; one foot in front of the other.  The only sounds to be heard were the muttered curses and labored breathing of those ahead and behind me.  At least those were the only sounds until the all hell broke loose...

A guy uphill from me either lost his footing, his balance, or both.  All I know is he was rolling down the trail very quickly, and picking up speed as he went.  That was bad enough in itself, but he was knocking guys down as he rolled. As he rolled past me, he was screaming and had a look of terror on his face.  He wasn't actually "rolling," it more like a half roll, half bounce. He still had his pack and gear on and it made for a very rough ride down the hill.

Shortly after he passed me he knocked another guy over backwards...downhill...

The second guy joined him on his trip down the hill.  It was both terrifying and hilarious at the same time.  I know, I know...I'm a sick bastard, but I couldn't help it.  It was like these two were rolling down hill like human bowling balls, on some perverted bowling alley knocking down human bowling pins as they went.

They actually didn't roll that far, but there were plenty of bruises to go around. Thankfully nobody was badly hurt.  We laughed about the incident for the rest of our infantry training and beyond.

To go back to the previous post in this series, click here


  1. Hello Patrick.

    Thank you for becoming a follower of PICTURES JUST PICTURES. I'm feeling especially proud of my blog today because it now has a hundred followers - you being the 100th.

    I know you have a photographic blog as well as this one (I have been scrolling through the pictures there) but I've been reading some of your entries here too. Although I have never had much money, I have never experienced the marginalisation or alienation (nor probably all sorts of other 'ations'!) you have had to live through in your life. It is another continent. One of the wonderful things about blogging though, is the way it offers glimpses into lives which we would never have known about otherwise - and I value this.

    You say you are about to talk about your time in Vietnam. This has made me hesitate before becoming a follower here. I am certainly squeamish and easily frightened - the kind who would rather turn her head - but I also think it is important to know . . . even retrospectively. Not knowing doesn't wipe out history. Maybe, though, by knowing (forlorn hope!) we can help stop it repeating itself.

    There's much thought and emotion and work and all sorts apparent in this blog. I hope by writing it you are finding you are able to get lots of things 'out of your system' and to transform them. It is a brilliant way to leave a record for your descendents - both your family ones and those of your fellow citizens.

    I was wondering if you might find my photographs of leaves and boats and stones and things a bit trivial compared with what you have gone through - but I have noticed that a lot of ex-military people with blogs have taken up photography. May be 'seeing' the world and examining it through a lens is a particular way of valuing it and we value the world in a special way if we also know how easily it can be destroyed.

    Best wishes. And thanks for being 'The 100th'!


  2. Hi Lucy,
    Thanks so much for your words. First of all, I don't find your photos trivial ih the slightest bit. On the contrary I love them. I like to view photgraphs that reflect an item as it really is. It can be a leaf, a fence post, or a person. From my minds eye you are very good at that. I think I "saw" what you feeling as you took the shot.

    If you visit my spot occasionaly I think you'll see that I also try to "capture" a moment in time, or the history of that fence post, or the feeling a person might be having at a particular moment. I see that fence post, or gate, or buiding as something that has witnessed a lot in it's time. And those things tend to wear them down.

    To me the place that inspires that feeling the most in me is Japan. I hope you had a chance to check those out on site. I have many more.

    As to Vietnam, I assure you it won't be too graphic. The entries are primarily made up of short stories (all true) relating to more of the crazy things that seem to happen in my life. I also have many more stories from my earlier life that will find their way here...

    thanks again for spending some time both reading and commenting...


  3. I just read through your "bootcamp" series and the first two ITR posts (you're right - they're not showing up on my dashboard, so thanks for the heads up) and I've been struggling for the past two hours with what to write as a comment.

    I feel the NEED to comment - the story that you're telling is fascinating, and emotionally powerful but saying that (is flat and doesn't begin to be strong enough to express what reading it makes me feel.

    Part of the problem, of course, is that I don't have an adequate frame of reference for your story. Being Canadian, and being fortunate enough to have lived my life in a period when Canada wasn't involved in a major conflict, I've never done military service. I have relatives in both Canada and USA that have (including several cousins and a nephew recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan with the USMC) but the subject of military service doesn't really come up in conversation.

    That leaves books, movies, television, etc. Those sources are insufficient as well, as they lack the personal contact that a blog provides. Strange isn't it that, while we are strangers, knowing nothing more about each other than what we choose to share in writing, the fact that I KNOW that you are a real person, that I can comment on the stories, and receive answers to those comments, can create a feeling of personal contact.

    On my part at least - now before I start to sound too much like some psycho stalker, let me just say thank you for the story and give you my congratulations on having retained the ability to tell it despite a life that would have emotionally crippled many others.

    I look forward to continuing to read your posts. Sorry for going on so long.

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  7. I got your email and so here I am. The photograph is absolutely stunning. I love to see photos on blogs. This is one of the best.

    I'll now take a look at your boot camp experiences...

  8. I would have laughed. How could you not?

    Well I'm all caught up now. Thanks for letting me know about the glitch on blogger cause yeah none of these were listed in my dash.

  9. Neil - Wow! Thanks for the nice words and the thought you put into your comment. Truth be told, I was pretty "emotionally crippled" long before I went into boot camp. I' glad I took plenty of notes so I could recount a lot of the facts. I have a post coming up on how I remembered so many details.
    Thanks again Neil...

    Ann - Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Tim - I'm glad I figured it out. I knew I posted but I got exactly zero comments. Thanks so much for spending all the time it took to read and comment so much. I appreciate it, my friend!

  10. Just finished the last one and all I can say is "AMAZING!" I know they can't baby you, and must get you trained and fit for battle, but, how you survived is astonishing. Guess I need to talk to hubby more and see what it was like for him.

    Thanks for giving me the heads up on locating the missing posts!

  11. Lynn - thanks...

    Ms A - I thought some of them were lost. I agree about the toughening up, but the brutality was totally excessive.

  12. Patrick.
    You know how this is. I started reading from the first post on this series.. and did not stop till i finished it all.
    It is an amazing story and what makes it more so is the fact that it is personal. Your personal story through boot camp.
    I think it will make a great book too..
    Keep going.. Vietnam comes next.
    Have a great Sunday.

  13. This was funny. Wish I had seen the whole rolling down scene... LOL
    Love the picture. And thanks for letting me know about the glitch, Pat. Have a nice day.

  14. You had to be there to appreciate the total humor of it!

  15. Costas - Thanks! I need to go in and do some proof reading on the VN series. I pretty much posted it as it came out of my head.

    Mr. Stupid - It was pretty funny, the guy and all his gear clattering and banging down the hill.

    BD - You are right about that. The poor guy...

  16. Ouch, good thing they weren't going commando. Poort taste, right?

  17. Copyboy - Maybe poor taste, but FUNNY...

  18. Lovin' it. Mymother would stop the VW in a snow storm if she saw two walkers on the sidewalk taking headers on the ice....she of course would get out to ask if they were OK after her hysterics subsided....

  19. Haw, Mr Pat, I can just imagine all this! Hilarious and scary at the same time...that must have been quite a sight!

  20. A necessary thing, gallows humor. It has saved me a few times.

  21. Entre Nous - I know what you mean. Humor above all...

    Joe - It was an amazing sight. It must have really been something to see it from much higher up, but it was pretty watching him "bounce" by...

    altadenahiker - you are so right. It's a natural coping device.

  22. That is very funny, and you described it perfectly. I'm glad you weren't rolling on down with them, Pat.

  23. I don't beleve all these things happened to you!

  24. Robyn - I couldn't agree with you more. Although it was pretty darn funny, there were some cuts and bruises.

    Anonymous - I don't know if you mean "I don't believe all these things happened to you!" Or if you mean "I don't believe all these things happened to you!" If it's the first one, I can't believe it either. If it's the second one. I don't care what you think, assbite!

  25. These posts are like Lays Potato Chips-can't read just one. Are you going to do more? Have you done them and hidden them in a secret cave? I'd really like to read more.

  26. Thanks so much for the nice words. There a bunch of them under the "Boot Camp" page link (under the header).

    If you search Vietnam, I also have about forty stories about that fiasco. I should reactivate that page also. Thanks again!


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