My Drill Instructor

Officer Candidate School, Pensacola. I sit in my rack, my bed, listening to the early Florida morning. Soon, the drill instructors will arrive. I know — I heard the gouge from years past. My eyes close, but refuse to let me sleep.

I slip from the lower bunk to the floor. Grabbing my new Bible, I pad out of Squad Bay to the bathroom. It is 0345 (3:45 in the morning) and I expect bedlam in two hours or so. The lights in the head are blindingly loud. I squint through their pinch and nod at a guy shaving over the sink. He is a Naval Flight Officer wanna-be; we had emailed confidently before OCS. Now we have nothing to say. Because we said it all. Nothing left but the hollering and execution. We are both prior enlisted, but he looks already tired. Really, he is just resigned to our fate. Unlike me, who stupidly can’t resign.

I lean on the windowsill and rifle through the pages of the stiff Bible. It seems to know me, this new book. It senses I need a crutch and won’t play easy. The coy sheets flip closed after I press them open. It stares up at me mutely, to ask if there is some mistake. I plow through whole sections. Looking for that piece, peace to hold on to.

Read the rest at the American Thinker.

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14 thoughts on “My Drill Instructor”

  1. The thought occurred to me while I was reading this on AT…women go through the same training…isn’t that right??? Well, you got to see both sides of what the Navy (and I would assume, the military for the most part) does to instill discipline, team spirit and goal orientation …it’s much harder on the officers because much more is expected of them…I was right about you, Ace…we’ll be needing all of you when the consequences of the last three years are laid before us…to pick up the pieces…another four years…Hell, no…people like you carry on behind the scenes and make us stronger…I thank the Marines too…I have always loved them for their fortitude, strength of character and just pure integrity…k

    1. Yes Kris, we had at least a half-dozen women (the DIs called them females) in our class. And I am glad to see my joking posts have not scared you away!

  2. (Cross-posted from my About page)
    Larry Brown said:
    Loved yer AT piece .. .brought back memories of Pensacola sand and crabgrass .. .and poopy suits .. . and my first salute 45 years ago last spring from Gunnery Sergeant Jim who gave it all in Viet Nam .. .
    New to yer site. . .keep up the good work .. .


    Bette said:
    Your article today, My Drill Instructor, brought tears to my eyes. It must be, because I appreciate the struggle the so many have made in order to qualify to defend the country; so much physical and mental stamina required in order to serve others. Bravo to all servicemen!

  3. BTDT, in AOCS… They WILL wear your ass out, and then stomp a mud puddle in it, but if you are truly trying, you WILL make it, and give and receive that first salute. Well done!

  4. “Then my grandmother asks Gunny how I did and he shruggingly replies: He was a good one.”

    Navy One you are a “good one.” Thank you for serving.
    Big hug coming your way.


  5. Old NFO: I had to look up BTDT. Been there done that, Roger! That first salute, as you know, is sweet. . .
    Lauren: Thanks for the thanks and thanks for the hug! Here is one for you. . .

  6. (Cross-posted from my About page)
    Colonel B on September 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm said:
    I finished last in AOC class Zero three sixty-nine. I wanted to quit everyday during a grueling 16 weeks before receiving a commission. After an additional thirty-two and one half years service, I can honestly say that my Gunny was better and tougher than yours. But then the best squadron I was ever in was the one I just left. The self-discipline and tenacity instilled in me and others by Gunny Pilger carried me through many of life’s battles and then some. Your tribute to Gunny W and all the rest is fitting. Thanks!

    I replied to the Colonel with:
    Thank you, Sir! I remember someone telling me before OCS: they can’t kill you, nor can they eat you. I was neither killed (much) nor eaten!

  7. (Cross-posted from my About page)
    THD on September 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm said:
    Great article on AT. I’m a staunch conservative military retiree. Your comments about your DI remind me of my first flight instructor! He chewed me out from the very moment we got on the flight line. He was a former Naval aviator who had flown off Navy carriers during the Korean War. That was over 50 years ago and I’ll never forget his name! Not only that, he drove a ’57 Thunderbird with chrome spare tire rack on the back. He chewed me out because he thought that those of us who were officer pilot trainees were spending toooo!! much time at the O’Club and not enough time studying our flight manual!!
    Back then it was all:”Duty-Honor-Country”, “Yes Sir, No SIr, No Excuse Sir”

    I replied with:
    THD, it is still Duty, Honor, Country. Always.

    (I am cross-posting these from my About page, because I find them interesting. And even though folks are commenting over there, you {the reader} may never go over there to read them. It is not every day I get some of the above folks on my site, commenting about their experiences or expressing thanks as they are.)

  8. Well done, Navy One! Your DI sounds a lot like my TAC back in the day (late sixties) at Benning. He was from Louisiana and not a “yeller” but we ate plenty of grass. Like you, I would have gone with him anywhere … he had it. One of the NCOs who had sneered at me for six months as a “Candidate” gave me the first high ball and got a dollar. He then told me that I had two missions from that day on – (1) “keep your mouth shut and listen to your NCO’s until you know what it’s all about and (2) ALWAYS take care of you rmen FIRST. The military is a marvelous fraternity. God Bless all of you serving today.

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