Monday, October 8, 2007

Humps, Creative Motivation, and Patience

Popeye was this one Marine that developed my near superhuman patience. His name here is Popeye, because that is what he looked like. He had mentioned once that his Drill Instructors, noticing the resemblance, had given him standing orders to do the Popeye laugh on command, for the entirety of boot camp. He could do it pretty good, too.

I don't really remember meeting Popeye for the first time, it just kinda seemed that he was catching hell from the beginning. He wasn't a shit-bird (our name for the Pvt. Pyles of real life), but he had his moments. Good hearted, a little bit naive, a nice guy deep down, but the boy could seriously test my patience at times. A number of times...

One of his particularly memorable moments came during a training hump.

During the course of this particular hump, I found myself in the standard situation. We, as the crew-served weapons platoon were at the rear of the formation. I guess it was meant to shame any riflemen that fell beck far enough to see us suffering under the weight of additional crew-served weapons components. Being at the rear also meant that as the formation naturally contracted and expanded while traveling the back roads and dirt trails, we found ourselves fast-walking or actually jogging down the trails in our effort to stay up with the rest of the company and maintain proper platoon dispersion.

With the condition that we were in (tired), the pace of the hump (kinda fast), and the additional weight (Ung!), it wasn't long before a few Marines began to fall back. I would then slow down until the platoon passed me up and I was on line with the Marine lagging. I would then take his additional weight and advise him that I was going to run to the front of the formation. I figured that if I could run faster than him, with his assigned additional weight and mine, I would then store said additional weight in his butt-hole.

The guy falling behind would usually find the motivation to get to the front, at least just before I did. I would then give him his stuff back, caution him about falling back again, and then go back to the rear to do it all over, with someone else.

Sometimes I would mess with any riflemen that had fallen back. These were the guys that were usually not carrying anything more than a full pack and their rifle.

I would start this by running one of my Marines up to the front of the platoon, hand them back the mortar tube or base plate, and then just... stop.

The platoon would keep on marching.

Just about everybody knew what I did on the humps, so nobody thought I was slacking off or falling back. When the platoon was a little bit up the road, you could see individual Marines that had fallen back from twisted ankles or poor conditioning, struggling to keep up. I would wait until I could see the last Marine from my platoon, or the vehicle that would always trail the hump formation (if one fell back far enough, you had to get in the vehicle. This was only sometimes legit if you had actual bone sticking out of your body. Anything less than that... stand by, the Gunny wants a few words with your poor, pathetic, soon to be dead ass.) As my last bubba would pull up along side with me, I would hold out my hands, and they would hand off their component(s). We would begin to jog to the front of the formation. As we would pass other Marines, I would offer words of encouragement to the other weapons platoons Marines, talk some trash to other guys playing the part of motivators, or down right threaten guys who were continuously falling back. As we would pass some of the riflemen, I would quickly grab another mortar component or two (or three) and run past him, not saying a word, just giving him the stare down as I jogged past him carrying a full pack, one 81mm mortar tube flung over the top of my neck, a base plate in one hand, and with the hand used to balance the tube, an A-bag dangling for extra effect. I would glare from under the mortar tube forcing my head down at his little pack, rifle,.... (and nothing else) and just snort. Sometimes, it actually motivated them enough to speed up and catch back up with their platoon.

Towards the end of the hump, everyone was hurting. The amount of time needed to run people up to the front of the platoon had greatly increased, and I was sucking wind. Falling back once again, I noticed Popeye and another Marine trading off a mortar component. At first I thought that perhaps Popeye had fallen back to help out his team-mate, like I was doing. On another pass I realized that while that might have been the original intent, they were both now falling back more and more. I then fell in step with them and took the mortar part, to help them out.

At this point in the hump there was no way in hell that I was going to be able to run, a fast walk was about all I had in my tank. It was usually at this time of any hump where you just had to grit it out, take it one step at a time, and keep moving. Thankfully, the pace of the whole unit had slowed to that of a casual stroll, albeit one with a full pack, feet fulla blisters, and sleep deprivation.

As we approached the outskirts of the base, everyone began to pick up the pace, in anticipation of finishing this damn hump.


Needing to rest my shoulders, neck, and just about everything else, I look at the other Marine. This guy barely looked alive, just plodding along. When I turned to Popeye to see if he could spell me, but he was nowhere in sight. I actually stopped and turned around to see if he had passed out on the road and nobody had noticed as we were literally at the ass end of everything. Where the hell had he gone?

As I did this I heard Popeye, from THE FRONT OF THE PLATOON FORMATION start yelling out "Come on, Cpl., get up here!! You can do it! Don't quit on me now!!!"

The little fucker had left us, literally, in the dust.

When I had taken the mortar piece and slung it over my shoulder he had taken off like a shot. No more extra weight for him!

As he was trying to 'motivate' me to get back with the rest of the formation, one Marine tripped (or passed out and died, whatever) and went flying. As his mortar, weapon, and/or miscellaneous crap hit the deck, a number of my buddies confessed to me that they heard the sound and had a mental picture of me listening to Popeye, finally snapping, and just throwing my shit down so I could free up my hands to strangle the little bastard.

Hmm, a pleasant daydream at times, sure....


Mark said...

How about a Beverage Alert next time :)

William the Coroner said...

I'm sure that's against the UCMJ, somewhere, somehow...

Hammer said...

Great story. I could picture it in my head.

R said...

HaHaHa. That little backstabbin' traitor! That would officially put him on my shit-list for eternity!