By David W. Asche
In the days of yore when our country was embroiled in World War Two, my father told me they were given a "quick trip" through recruit training, also called "basic" by some, "boot camp" by others, but there wasn't a whole lot of reason why to worry about. Everyone was pretty well informed that the Japanese had bombed hell out of our fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Adolph Hitler and his gang of thugs had also ran roughshod over half the world and was leaving death and destruction in his wake and this pretty well took care of any "reason why" questions.
The reason was simple: They had to get the men and women ready to face the enemy and be able to give them some "payback" and the ones running the place had a pretty good idea on how to do it since many of them had already gone through World War One and had a taste of what happens in a war zone. They knew about torture, being a prisoner of war, seeing the blood, gore, dismembered bodies and all kinds of bullets and shells coming at them. The training was to help get our troops ready for the carnage ahead of them.
When I went to recruit training, my father told me, "Your ass belongs to Daddy now." Which was basically telling me I was in the Navy and I could wind up as a crab feast on the bottom of the ocean, or in some kind of a combat situation, including possibly being a prisoner of war, tortured and locked in some rat hole of a P.O.W. camp. I knew that as I had been watching the news and such each night. I knew about the S.A.M. (Surface to Air Missiles) that were being used to knock down our B-52's and other aircraft that were attacking the communists invading the republic of South Vietnam.
I saw the soldiers wading through rice paddies and heard stories about the booby traps the Viet Cong were setting all over the place to maim and kill our men and women that were there. There were news clips showing the metal coffins being unloaded off of airplanes that had some ones son inside it.
Recruit training was geared to cut the "apron strings" and get us thinking about being a unit and working together as a military body, with education, tests to see what we knew, physical training to build our bodies up to be better prepared to serve our country better and face the challenges of a war situation.
All around us, we had posters and slogans that we would see and read and teach us about the possibilities we would face. One set of posters were "I am an American Fighting Man" and had rules to live by when we were in combat. We had to learn eleven General Orders and we had to KNOW them. Memorized. We had to recite them even when we were in the gas chamber and had taken our gas masks off. Burning tear gas in our eyes and throats, we were all reciting the general orders. All in preparation to face the combat ahead of us.
We were inoculated to fight the diseases we may encounter wherever we went. We were checked out to be sure we could be healthy and fit to go into a combat theater and not have to worry about some medical problem.
We marched everywhere. We each had an old Springfield O-3 A-3 rifle to carry and we drilled with it. We were taken to a rifle range and they put an M-1 Garand in my hands and two clips of ammo. Then they gave us a .45 auto pistol and two magazines of ammo to also shoot. These were real guns, real bullets. We were preparing for war.
This was the reason for recruit training.
After recruit training, each of us was given our orders to proceed to the next place of our service, wherever it was, so we could serve our nations needs and do whatever the job was. Some guys went to service schools based upon the selections they made in boot camp, but also based upon the results of the classes and aptitude the men showed while in boot camp. Some men went straight to ships "in the fleet" to serve on those ships as crew, doing the jobs they were given when they got there.
There have been changes to the results of "why" we have basic training now days, and I wonder if it is working out as it was intended to be.
A lot of recruits now call home to complain that they are being "abused and mistreated" in basic training. There is a lot of concern over the role of females in the military, as to whether they serve in a combat position or not, and a lot of concern over homosexuals in the military.
It seems it is getting to be a matter of "Social Acceptance" rather that preparing for war with the enemies of our country. It seems we now have to be nice to each other and not to worry if Steve and Bill want to hook up down behind the aft uptakes.
What is going on here? Is this attitude going to be better to guard and protect our country from those who want to bomb, maim and kill our citizens? We don't torture prisoners. We have to provide our prisoners with all kinds of amenities such as special food, their favored biblical materials, and allow them to perform their religious rituals while they are imprisoned.
Have we forgotten how the enemies of our country have treated OUR soldiers who were captured? What kind of war do these people want to have? Are we now expected to sit down and have a nice chat over tea and cookies?
How are the citizens of our country going to repel our enemies if we have a socially acceptable armed force who is incapable of providing a defense against those who seek destruction of our people and our country?
These types of things are or were taught to us in recruit training. God help us all if we no longer are able to fight a war against those who are dedicated to having blood in their eyes and death in their hearts.