Not everyone is meant for the army. These military men recall the moment they knew another recruit wouldn't make it through training. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
What Not To Say To A Drill Sergeant 101
“For the Army basic, you have a roster number (at least my group did), so they’d either call us by last name or roster number. And I will forever remember the ‘215’ guy. It was 2015 when we were out doing our land navigation course, and it had two parts: Day land navigation and night land navigation.
During the night phase, 215 was out trying to navigate to his points with his partner. He, for some reason, felt it would be a good idea to take off his cover (hat). Well, the Drill Sergeants were like ninjas in this area. They’d straight up materialize from behind a tree just to surprise you with a, ‘You LOST, private?’
215 was spotted by a Drill Sergeant, and his lack of cover was noticed.
The Drill Sergeants called out, ‘Private! Where the heck is your cover?’
Poor, silly 215 called back, ‘I left it at yo’ momma’s house!’
The Drill Sergeant instantly got ticked off.
He yelled back, ‘What the heck did you just say?!’
215, that crazy kid, didn’t catch on to the unfolding plot. So he yelled back, ‘I said, I left it at yo’ momma’s house!’
For the next month, that particular Drill Sergeant would hunt for him in the formations. You could feel 215’s will to live deflate every time we heard, ‘Hey! 215, where you at?’
He’d have to answer, ‘Here, Drill Sergeant!’ and then prepare for as many push-ups and v-ups as the rules would allow.
Surprisingly, 215 ended up making it through his ordeal.”
He Was Only 17
“There was a 17-year-old kid who was in my platoon in boot camp. For the first couple of days, he was the loudest, most obnoxious kid in the platoon. He wasted no opportunity to tell us what a rockstar he was. On the day our real drill instructors came on deck (in Marine Corps boot camp you spend the first couple of days with recently graduated drill instructors who are much more easygoing than your actual drill instructors), he pounded on our Senior Drill Instructor’s door in tears shouting something like, ‘SIR! I’M NOT READY FOR MARINE CORPS BOOTCAMP! PLEASE, SIR! I’M ONLY SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD!’
He spent the next two days spending all day sitting on the floor facing a mirror until the Miliary police came on deck, handcuffed him, and dragged him away crying and screaming.
Another time was when I rented a room in my house to an Air Force kid who had no idea how to use a washing machine. He spent all of his downtime playing ‘World of Warcraft’, and had no idea how to cook so would eat takeout for every single meal. He’d look at me like I was a wizard when I’d come home from the grocery store with fruits and vegetables.
Once while I was cooking dinner he came into the kitchen and out of nowhere said something like, ‘You know my junk is bigger than yours right?’
I think I punched him. He ended up moving out not long after. That was about ten years ago and the last I heard he developed diabetes because of his terrible diet.”
They Called Him Snorlax
“I served in a conscript army. Most everyone served, but generally unfit people did not go to combat units. We had one kid who transferred from a job into our unit for basic training. He said he wanted to be a fighter and that his ‘super secret’ unit that he worked for in human logistics wanted to send him to our basic training and then bring him back so he could serve in their ‘super secret special forces unit.’
The kid was 6’6 feet tall and at least 360 pounds. An absolutely huge guy. He couldn’t run, couldn’t work out, and couldn’t carry anything substantial. So basically, he couldn’t contribute to the team. We can call him Snorlax.
One night after a long ruck march, we were forced to stay up all night and prepare for a company inspection. This was pretty normal. We would stay up and clean all of our gear, get everything in order, and go through various levels of inspection. By the time the inspection came around, we had been up for about 36 hours or so. We had marched and worked out in that time and everyone was hurting pretty bad. We were only two or so months into training at this point and still weren’t used to the army life.
The hardest part about this whole inspection was having to stand still information during the entire thing. We were all beat, barely standing up, keeping just the minimum level of acceptable when Snorlax started crying.
He started crying in the middle of the formation. Then he started complaining that his legs hurt and that he couldn’t stand up. No duh, your legs hurt. My legs hurt too. Everyone’s legs hurt. Everyone wanted to be done with this stuff, but we weren’t whining about it.
The Company Commander (a captain) stopped the inspection. Uh oh, this was already painfully slow and now we were at a standstill.
The crying, blubbering, ginormous baby then had the nerve to sit down while in the formation.
The Captain looked at me and said, ‘Pick up Snorlax and help him stand for the rest of inspection.’
Darn, I could barely pick myself up at this point. My entire platoon gave me the biggest look of pity I have ever seen. It took three of us to lift Snorlax off the ground and leaned him on me. He was a total deadweight. My knees were shaking. I was barely able to hold up this mammoth of a man
And the inspection continued. The Captain walked over to me and started inspecting my gear. My gear was normally perfect. I took pride in making it that way. The entire company used my gear as an example of how to do theirs. During my fiasco holding up Snorlax, I had accidentally kicked one thing out of place.
The Captain saw it. He opened his mouth like he was about to chew me out. But he stopped. He looked me in the eyes and saw my disdain for him. Pure hatred. I was almost begging him to yell at me. I don’t know what I would have done, but my anger chakra was raging.
He looked down at my gear. Back into my eyes. Down at my gear again.
He said, ‘Perfect job, solider.’
I replied, ‘Thank you, sir.’
The inspection went on. Snorlax never stopped crying. When it was all over, I dumped Snorlax on the floor, put my gear away, and went to sleep.
Snorlax dropped out about a month later.”
“We Had To Have The Staff Watch Us Shower”
“In Basic training, my camp was split into four companies. Two of these companies were designed to train soldiers joining the technical trades of the British Army such as Electricians, Engineers, and Specialists.
Basic training for most people is an attendance course, you wake up in the morning, get messed around during the day, and then back to bed. Repeat for six months. Most people found this easy except for the recruit. The recruit was a complete moron.
The recruit didn’t shower. After complaining to our training team, the staff asked him to shower. He even ignored the training team until they had to force him under a shower. We had to have a member of staff watch us shower in the morning to make sure he did it properly.
He once ran down the platoon lines exclaiming he had waterproofed his water bottle. He fell over into the corner of his bed and knocked himself out clean. Once he took a dump so hard he passed out on the toilet. Rumour has it that he was found on the floor of the toilet with feces all up the wall and the other recruits had to clean it.
Sometimes he would forget his ammunition on a section attack. Honestly, this kid was a complete mong.
He is now a serving Royal Engineer. He builds bridges for tanks. I don’t know how well he is getting on now though.”
Inside The Life Of Private Fir
“In my country, the military works by conscription, which means that almost everyone gets to serve their half a year to a year there. That naturally means that you’re going to meet some pretty decent and smart people, but by god do you get to also meet the very bottom of the barrel we call humankind. One was my not-so-bright company mate, private Fir.
It was near the end of our two-month basic period, on a practice session where we had to put on our gas masks, raincoats, and such to protect ourselves from poisonous gases and such. Taking off your helmet, putting on a gas mask, raincoat, and rainpants, and changing our water bottle’s cap into one that fits into a socket on the gas mask is a procedure that is not supposed to take more than two or three minutes. And it doesn’t, not after two months of basic when you’ve been training this stuff. Unless you’re private Fir.
I had the misfortune of standing next to him in the row we were training this in. I had already put my gear on, including the gas mask, as these events were unfolding next to me, which had the fortunate effect of shielding my face from our non-commissioned officers, since it was covered in expressions I could only compare to the ones on the guards’ faces in ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’, while Caesar was telling the guards about his friend, Biggus Dickus.
We were in raincoats and gasmasks on this hot gravel field in the middle of the summer, going well into the tenth minute of this two-minute exercise of putting our gear on. Everyone was finished except our friend Private Fir, who had, during ten minutes, managed to take his gear out of his backpack and almost put his raincoat and pants on. He of course hadn’t done this well, as our non-commissioned officers went to his face and started to check his equipment. As everyone probably knows, raincoats as well as most other coats, have a piece of string going around the edge of the hood, which you can pull to tighten the hood around your face. This string also has a couple of plastic tighteners, which you press when you pull the string, and that keeps it tight instead of letting it just fall back into the hood. Basic life skills most of us learn by the age of four. Except you know who, who learned it at the ripe age of nineteen, by a non-commissioned officer shouting it at his face in the army. This wasn’t the end of it.
Preparing for a gas attack also included changing the cap on your water bottle, which he had not done. The non-commissioned officers told him to do it, and Fir began to search for his gas-mask-compliant bottlecap, which he did not find. This had a specific place in an extra pocket attached to the water bottle pocket of the combat harness, information which Fir learned right then and there, despite being told numerous times in the two months prior.
So the bottle cap wasn’t there, and it wasn’t in any of his other pockets for small this-and-that. Keep in mind it is the non-commissioned officer searching through his pockets, while Fir was suggesting him check some other pocket on his harness next. Finally, the cap was found in a magazine pocket on his harness, which was supposed to hold ammo, not bottlecaps.
Fir carried on with changing the bottle cap on his water bottle and managed to lose the other one in the process. This was quite a feat, as the normal cap on the water bottle was attached to the bottle by means of a plastic ring, but he managed to take it off and drop it on the ground. He did not notice this, and didn’t catch on while the non-commissioned officer started doing the ‘is anything missing from this bottle’ routine. This was the point in which one of the other non-commissioned officers, who had managed to relatively keep his calm about Fir’s antics through a couple of months prior, had a mental breakdown, half shouting that he couldn’t it no more.
Unfortunately, even correctly putting on gas masks didn’t suppress the laughter that well, as every guard had to face his Incontinentia Buttocks someday.”
The Homer Simpson Moment
“One dude had a total Homer Simpson moment. He was 19 and his mommy did his laundry at home, so he had no clue how to do laundry. We said, put your greens in one, and the whites in the other. So, being a genius, he threw his brand new, bright red hoodie in with the whites, and was stunned to find all his Physical Training clothes were pink. We all laughed our behinds off because he was also a rude, entitled, rich prick, so we let him swing for a lot of his stupidity.
The next morning, 500 troops form up in front of the base Regimental Sergeant Major for group Physical Training, and from hundreds of meters away, he pointed to Homer Simpson in the pink shirt.
‘YOU!’ he shouted.
He had to march up to the Regimental Sergeant Major and explain his idiocy. Then the Regimental Sergeant Major yelled at our course staff for not sorting him out. After the staff got jacked up by the Regimental Sergeant Major, they decided to pay him lots of extra personal attention from then on.
He ended up releasing from the military.”
“You Do Realize You’re In The Marine, Right?”
“When I was in the Marines, we were doing house-clearing exercises with simulated grenades. Basically, they’re just a hollow shell with a firecracker inside, so they work like real grenades but just make a loud popping sound instead of actually exploding. So we came up to the door to this little shack, and the way it was supposed to work was our fireteam of four guys lines up along the wall next to the door of the house we are about to breach.
The first guy (me) stands right at the door frame with his weapon ready in case anyone comes charging out, while the second guy in line (our squad’s resident fool) is supposed to hook a grenade around the first guy and through the doorway, then you all wait until the grenade goes off and storm into the room right after the bang.
This was the first time this guy tried it and he threw it too far forward; instead of going into the house, it hit the doorframe on the other side and fell to the ground right at my feet, and went ‘pop’. The instructor looked at this guy behind me and went, ‘Congratulations fool, you just killed your entire team.’
Then he gave him another fake grenade and said, ‘Try it again.’
This time, he got it through the door, but instead of throwing it at an angle like you’re supposed to so that it bounces off the walls and rolls around inside, making it hard for anyone that might be inside to grab it and throw it back out, he threw it straight in the doorway so it hit the far wall and bounces straight back towards the doorway. It came rolling out the door, landed at my feet, and went ‘pop.’
Now the instructor just had this look on his face like ‘What am I even supposed to do with this guy?’ But all he said, ‘Alright, moron. Do you remember how they told you to do this in the training class?’
The moron replied, ‘Not really sir, I wasn’t really paying attention since I didn’t think I’d ever actually had to know it.’
The instructor was clearly pretty ticked over this. He said, ‘You didn’t think you’d ever need to know how to use a grenade? You do realize you’re in the Marine Corps, right?’
The moron replied, ‘Well yes, but I play the flute.’
The instructor asked, ‘You play the flute? What does that mean?’
He said, ‘I’m a musician in the Marine Corp band. The flute is my instrument.’
The instructor just stared at him for a moment, and then I could almost see the moment when he just gave up on this guy. He said, ‘So you’re telling me that since you don’t think you’re ever going to have grenades in real life, you don’t take this training seriously?’
He said, ‘Uh. Yes sir?’
At this point, the instructor just grabbed him and threw him on the ground.
He said, ‘You just got taken out by a sniper. You’re dead now.'”
Uh Oh! Operation Golden Flow
“In 1991, I had just arrived at Great Lakes for Boot Camp. We were standing in line for our first introduction to what is known in the military as ‘Operation Golden Flow’ or our first urinalysis test. As I was standing in a very long line and tip-tapping around because I had to pee so bad, a guy standing behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked what we were waiting for.
I looked at him and told him, ‘A urinalysis.’
He looked at me and asked, ‘What’s a urinalysis?’
I said, ‘To see who has taken any illegal substances recently.’
He nodded, shrugged, and said, ‘Well, I guess I shouldn’t have smoked that crack last night.’
He was dead serious. That was when I knew he wouldn’t make it through boot camp.
Now, he officially wasn’t fired that first day, but about two weeks later when his results came back, he was. So yes, you could say that he was fired that first day but had to suffer for a few weeks until officially let go.”
He Snapped Part One
“I was one of the few combat Military Occupational Specialty recruits in my Basic Company at Fort Knox (where the tankers and other armor units used to train before they all moved to Benning) and we had one kid who made it in somehow with a 28 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. This being 2008, when there was a huge push for more bodies, he was allowed in and was a light wheel mechanic. Well, things being what they were, the Drills decided to put all the combat Military Occupational Specialty guys in the same squad. Most, if not all of us, were 13-F and were all headed to Fort Sill after Basic Graduation and we were all super glad. Because we were 18 and stupid. Most of us were even in pretty good shape for new recruits, so the Drills left us alone for the most part, outside of the usual reindeer games and other assorted stuff.
Then the drills, in their wisdom, assigned this kid to our squad. This guy was maybe 5’9 feet tall and 170 very round pounds. He couldn’t run, couldn’t push, couldn’t ruck, couldn’t stand at attention, couldn’t break down his weapon properly to clean, and the list went on and on. So the drills would smoke us instead of him to hopefully encourage him to get better. Pricks. To the surprise of no one, he continued to suck at anything resembling military skills. And we continued getting smoked. Talk of a blanket party (or a Full Metal Jacket) was soon brought up but was quashed by one of the older guys in the squad. So things continued to be from the red phase to the blue phase and we went to qualify with our old M-16s.
The guy literally couldn’t qualify, not even at a basic level. I think he went up to line time and time again, the Drills magically found extra magazines to slip him. Still, nothing. He scored in the low teens over and over again. So, at this point, the guy was sobbing. He wasn’t bright to begin with and this had overwhelmed him utterly. So, the Drill Sergeant took his M-16 and qualified for him, hitting the bare minimum of targets just to get him off the range. When we arrived back at the barracks, we were smoked more, for his failures. We were pushing in full battle rattle as he practiced trigger squeeze for hours.
We tried, oh how we tried. I have never worked harder to help another human being before or since. I was tired of getting smoked. I was tired of watching this little moron mess up everything, but there was nothing we could do. Each day became more like the last, the drills smoking us for an hour, attempting to try and get the guy into some sense of military bearing.
Finally, after eight weeks of smoke sessions, we prepared for the final field day exercise. The guy hadn’t shaped up at all and the drills were tired of him and us. He was left in our squad, but we finally had peace. Much like the Drills, we began to ignore the little moron as well and I think this was what might have broken him. The guy snapped, a weird sort of way.”
He Snapped Part Two
“The moron stopped caring. He stopped trying. He went up to the doctor and said he was having mental issues. The doctor promptly took his weapon and his boot strings. The Drills once again noticed him and began tormenting him again. Now, this wasn’t right, obviously, but I believe they were of the thought that he was faking. Turns out, the moron was faking crazy.
Everyone knows the little elbow-shaped flashlights the military issues. They are really cool little things, that come with a variety of issues. This was to be his new ‘weapon.’
When we left on our final field training exercise, he was forced to carry it like an M-16. Not only that, but on the ruck out to the site, he was placed squarely in the middle of the road with a Drill right next to him. We left in the dark, to avoid the heat of a Kentucky day. All of our flashlights were equipped with red lenses. His, on the other hand, had a blue lens that made it easy to differentiate him from us, no matter where he was in the formation.
At one point during that miserable ruck, he began treating it like it was a lightsaber, complete with noises. The drills basically ignored him until he decided to make a break for it. He took off for the tree line (slowly) and was screaming bloody murder the whole time.
Our small Hispanic drill simply said, ‘Oh no you don’t, hero’ and booked it right after him.
It was too dark for us to really see what happened, but that Drill had a split lip afterward and the idiot had a very bloody nose. No doubt caused by being tackle in the trees.
After that, they bundled him into a Humvee and drove him on the bivouac point. But his fun times weren’t over yet. Showing resourcefulness that no one had ever seen before from him, he slipped out and stole an M-16 from another company that was sharing the site with us. Of course, no one noticed until the morning, when it all went downhill.
He had stolen the M-16 and completely stripped everything he could out of it, throwing the parts all over the camp. They might still be there for all I know. We knew it was him. The drills knew it was him, simply because he still had the lower receiver to the weapon stashed in his truck, which they found.
One of the junior drills literally forced the guy to worm his way through the gravel with his nose millimeters from the ground, searching for the many small parts of the weapon. This went on for two days. Again, I kid you not. Finally, someone from Headquarters came and took him away, to chapter him out of the army for a failure to adapt.
That moron looked me up on Facebook in the months following graduation. He admitted to faking all of it, so desperate he was to get out. I have never been so ticked off in my life. But I guess it was good that he got out before he got stuck and didn’t manage to hurt anyone on our own side.”