Misfit Soldier wins Soldier of the Month

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My only remaining photo from high school
My only remaining photo from high school
Pretty much my whole life, I’ve been a misfit. Maybe it’s because I was born a lefty. (Later on, my grand father trained me to be a righty; all the tools in his machine shop were made for righties.)
For the most part, I don’t fit in in the Army either. I think that the Army’s idea of humiliating people into being competent is barbaric and inefficient. I’m not “Hooah”, by any means. That doesn’t mean that I don’t see many good things, and Heaven knows we’re the best in the world at blowing the crap out of the enemy, but I think even that is because of pure logistics: No one but no one can move more firepower and equipment to a battle zone than America.
Army training is a step below what I experienced in law enforcement. It kills people’s confidence.
Every Soldier should be taught–as if he is an initiate in a  killing cult, because he is–that he is part of the greatest army this earth has ever seen.
But they are not taught this. They are told from day one that they’ll probably die in Iraq and their families won’t give a damn. Then the Army wonders why the suicide rate is the highest in its history, finally outstripping the civilian rate.
To hell with dying in Iraq. I’ll make those who want to kill me die first. That’s my job as George Patton defined it; not to die for my country but to make the other fool die for his. I admit that the Army took away a lot of my confidence because it treats everyone entering it as if they’re all 18 year old dunder heads. I’ve always had a lot of confidence, or I least knew that if I showed confidence on the outside it would translate to the real thing. The body can lead the mind as the mind leads the body. The times when I was nervous and timid, I’d force myself to get angry. Fear and anger can’t sleep in the same bed.
My confidence is slowing returning, because I see that I have a lot to offer the Army. I want to change it in small ways. To do that I need rank. As soon as I complete my bachelor’s I’m headed to Warrant Officer School.
My primary goals in life are to finally have a happy family life, and to be a good person. No man is an island–I don’t care how tough you think you are or how much of a player you’ve made yourself out to be. Everyone needs someone. I’m able to drive myself when I have others to live for. Living for yourself isn’t much fun; it doesn’t motivate, it drains. Making other people happy makes me happy. Making myself better in every way so I can be of use to others is what drives me now. I like what Kurt Vonnegut said about relationships: Woman want someone to talk to. Men just want someone who isn’t mad at them all the time. That’s fricken hilarious, because it’s true.
So last week, I attended the Soldier Of The Month Board. At the SOM Board, a Soldier is brought before several Non-Commisioned Offiers and drilled with questions about the Army, his uniform is critiqued and most importantly his confidence is challenged and observed. It amazes me that the army places such a high value on confidence but does everything it can to take it away. Even though I’ve lost some of my confidence, I still display more of it than most of the people of my same rank. Why is this? The Army’s doing things the wrong way, that’s why.
Anyway, I won the board over two other soldiers of my rank and was later nominated by a group of NCOs at the weekly training meeting to attend the Soldier Of The Year Competition in Mannheim, Germany. At the SOY, there’ll be another board, a timed ruck march, a physical fitness test, a rifle range and a land navigation course as well as a written essay. Ten Soldiers will be attending.
Really, my goal is to not embarrass myself or my unit. I have very little time in the real Army and was selected over another Soldier who has been in the army for 6 years. But she can’t ruck march because of injuries. She does however have more army knowledge than I do. I was chosen primarily because of my competitiveness and physical capabilities.
I’ll make sure to get photos and post them here.
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7 thoughts on “Misfit Soldier wins Soldier of the Month

    Daniel Griffin said:
    May 9, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Good for you!
    I see the same thing happening to me, the degraded self-perception, self-opinion, the little shell of my former self, the constraints placed on being oneself. The narrow path one must walk between doing one’s best and outshining your superior. All these NCOs that love the army more than the reason for the army…

    Warrant, heh?

    I have been thinking of going to the dark side a lot lately…

    kernunos said:
    May 10, 2009 at 12:28 am

    First of grats, but we all knew you had it in you. Secondly, maybe the training regiment by the Army is a little out dated. Word War II and maybe as recent at Vietnam required breaking the confidence of a soldier away and rebuilding them so that no order, no matter how extreme, would be questioned in the heat of battle. This is in reference to, say, taking out a machine gun nest with a grenade whilst suppressing fire is laid down. The new Army is very technical and has far more tools from technology than throwing men at a problem like wood into a chipper. Maybe they need to re-evaluate their techniques. Thirdly, most people are not as driven as you. To get enough people in the service that are A. driven, B. competent and C. available may be a problem. That being said our military is amazing even if not as efficient or as proper as it should be. By accident or by design it is what it is.

    magus71 responded:
    May 10, 2009 at 8:14 am

    As inefficient as our Army is, it’s better than all the others when we consider everything. Lots of money helps, of course.

    magus71 responded:
    May 10, 2009 at 8:50 am

    The thing is, Basic training came around AFTER WWII. We then proceed to get a draw in the Korean War and lose Vietnam. Something’s changed in the Army. The Soldiers are too seperated from the country they protect.

    Daniel, I’m surprised to hear this from you of all people. You were always the craven optimist. 🙂 Is it Bragg? Are the knuckle-dragging NCOs getting you down? Tell them to put down AR 670-1 and pick up a real damn book.

    Amos Volante said:
    May 10, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Ah, Army Regulation 670-1;

    How to avoid ruck marching, shooting, and learning how to beat a man down. Don’t forget the mighty Field Manual 22-5.

    Ask any soldier that FM and he will know what it is in a quarter second. Ask a soldier the FM number for the survival manual, or first aid. Now who knows?

    Stay focused on what you know is important and you will help guide your peers. When you think you’re down, these guys can’t even tie their boots.

    Great job on SOM!

    Now swing your sledgehammer on SOY. Wait til they get a load o’ you!

    kernunos said:
    May 10, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    The other problem is when you get a group moving in unison on a specific task everyone often thinks they are an expert. It is the modern way of things. Just look at blogs for an example. Confidence may be partially linked to questioning the process and reason for things around you. If everybody is always questioning or saying something along the lines of “…I think ‘blabbidy-blab’ would work better.” every five minutes then things become very difficult or time consuming to execute. Sometimes just doing executing a mediocre plan is better than arguing about it. Getting large groups of people to follow orders to the T is no easy task.

    magus71 responded:
    May 11, 2009 at 8:43 am

    kernunos,

    You’re exactly correct on making large groups of people do what’s needed. I understand that some NCOs are the way they are because they’re forced to be that way.

    I guess discomfort is always a driving force to improve one’s situation. The people who are comfortable when they first come in the Army have no reason to improve. So, when I finally do get that warrant Officer slot, I also get more money, better living conditions (ie–my own house/ apartment) more authority and more say. And most of all, just like with a police badge, and probably most important to me–less ability for the average Joe to mess with me.

    What’s not to like?

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