Friday, January 22, 2016

Tormenting a PFC

A jarhead friend and I were comparing basic training experiences (telling lies) which prompted a trip down memory lane.

In 1963 I was about to enter the Army. A friend in a nearby town had just completed his AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and shared some fresh intel with me. A stand up guy, he didn’t try to set me up.

One point he made was that recruits were always being hustled for money. He said any individual demanding money for anything was a hustler.

Fast forward to the first day out of recruit center and in the C/1/1 Basic Training Company. A PFC entered the barracks with a large box of metal coat hangers, the cheap ones you get from the dry cleaners. He informed us we needed to give him $2 for enough hangers for our uniforms. Yeah, right. Having already formed some friendships on the train ride from Denver and the days at the recruit center, I gut punched the PFC and threw his ass out the back door and down the steps. My buddies promptly distributed the hangers. Turns out the PFC was, among other duties, the mail clerk. This will make sense a little later.

When he went whining to the Corporal who was our Platoon Leader, he was asked to describe who punched him. Question? Is there a more anonymous group than Army recruits, shaven heads, new uniforms and no name tags? How much more can a Corporal fuck with recruits to get answers than is already built into the program? Did the Corporal even care?

Towards the end of Basic, said PFC gave us a lecture as to how we were required to give everyone our forwarding address because he was, “Too damn busy to forward your fucking mail”. I had spotted an ad in some old magazine gathering dust in the “Day Room” offering to put your name on 1,000 mailing lists for a dollar. Talked eight or nine guys into subscribing. Two years later I was still getting mail that had been forwarded from unit to unit.

This PFC loved to fuck with recruits. Not that smart. Several of us were sent for AIT about two miles away to the Combat Engineer School. After two or three weeks we got PX and beer garden privileges. Guess who we saw at the beer garden? We surely weren’t the first cycle to have “issues” with him.

My jarhead friend’s description of Marine Basic sounded tougher that the Army. That said, anyone who thinks circa early 1960’s Army Basic was a walk in the park has their head up their ass.


  1. I think, at the time, all basic and AIT were difficult on us. It was so foreign to what we were use to. I admit, some was much more physical than others, but, still, we had to adjust. That being said, my boot in the Navy was so damn easy. My high school football practice was more physical than boot camp. The Navy built lovers, not fighters.

    1. Physically I had no troubles but I was a ranch kid, a high school wrestler, and was slinging beef in a packing plant just before I went in. They kept us tired. Four to six hours sleep. Other than meals in the mess hall and receiving instruction we never got to sit down.