Tuesday, September 8, 2009


In 1953 my friend was in the army’s basic training at Fort Ord in Monterey, California.

I’m pretty certain I could not live through the rigors of basic training, and in fact, some have not, due to the strenuous endurance training our men in the military must survive before moving to the next step.

For eight weeks back in ’53, sergeants drilled our future soldiers who withstood heat, exhausting exercises, mentally fatiguing drills, and obstacle courses only the fit can complete. Without preparation, these can be near-death experiences.

On a hot, humid day, a platoon of men had to do double time during an all-day, on-foot exercise with their gear that included rifles weighing just over 10 pounds. Their burden was beyond tolerable and enough to kill an overheated, dehydrated man.

Miles into this exercise and after walking at a slower pace, the sergeant shouted to the men to pick up their speed, and they began marching at double time again. Many detested this sergeant, a large, surly black man, whose only emotion seemed to be irritation.

A young private, a white man, was noticeably fatigued and appeared to be close to exhaustion. Seeing this, the muscled, temperamental sergeant moved toward him, grabbed the young soldier’s rifle, and carried it for him in addition to his own, then ran by the private’s side for the rest of the exercise.

Such inspiration the sergeant’s action aroused, that all the soldiers had renewed energy and purpose and successfully completed their mission.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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