Today's Journal excerpt from my Tales of Terror From Boot Camp Hell (Volume XXII) covers a moment I'm most proud of: when my disobedience to a tyrannical leader led to his quitting and becoming the source of ridicule in our company. I'm not one who desires to lead, nor am I follower. My life history shows a pattern of standing up to bullies and tyrants, and often that role falls to me because many people are too afraid to speak out. I, on the other hand, do not tolerate any form of abuse and learned early on that if I don't speak out, no one will speak up for me so I have to be the one who makes a stand.
APRIL 9, 1991 2-4 DAY TUESDAY
Today, I managed to do it--I threw up my breakfast on the PT run after four laps. I was coughing too much and up came this morning's waffles. After PT, we had an open group discussion where we could honestly state our opinions about what's going on in our company (lack of organization). PO1 Keenan was pretty cool about it and gave us some encouragement.
The biggest complaint was the lack of teamwork and the recruit staff yelling and insulting the rest of us rather than helping and encouraging us. They scream and insult us more than the CCs do. Some of the recruits said that we don't need to scream at each other because that increases tension within the company.
Several staff members were fired (Cornett--our MAA, Foulks, and Byars) and Bobst became our new MAA (Master-At-Arms--charged to keep the peace and I think he's the right choice because he's a muscular guy with a likable personality and not likely to let the power go to his head) and Nelson and Duncan assumed leadership positions.
It does seem that once the rank pin goes on the collar of their shirts, everything goes to their heads and they think they are better than us.
This evening there was a flare up between Section Leader Stringer and I because he yelled at me about my dungaree stack not being at the locker's edge.
Earler, CC Matthews checked all of our canteens to see if they contained water and Stringer's was empty. When he got on my case, I reminded him about his canteen and said that he has no right to yell at me when he screws up himself. He later quit his job as section leader and wrote a letter to the CCs about why he wanted to quit. He wrote that he would only take responsibility for himself and his wife and no one else. Somehow, the contents of the letter got around and he was ridiculed for that. But I was relieved. I wasn't sure how much a part I played into his quitting, but it couldn't have been easy for him in dealing with me. I don't like him and the way he treated us. He was a tyrant and reminds me of LT Fuzz in "Beetle Bailey"--an immature person trying to lead by bad imitation of how he assumed one would lead.
Our section appointed a temporary section leader. I wouldn't want any leadership position because I don't want to be responsible for another person if he messes up. Leadership also cause a camaraderie problem because of the punishment they get for something a regular recruit does. This causes tension within the company between the staff and the regular recruits.
We did get our pictures taken today and ordered our Memory book ("The Rudder") -- $11, and I even ordered a "class ring" for $50 -- which I was pleased that they offered it because I never got one in high school.
I marched behind Frank and noticed that he isn't doing good at all and messes me up by off step marching. I hate marching behind him. Those of us going to Class "A" School after Basic Training were given a study period in class today.
For lunch, we had chicken, even though it doesn't look or taste like it.
The CCs often remind us: "See all those Grinderbirds out there?" pointing to all the seagulls on the grinder. "That's lunch."
The convincing part of that statement is that there are less seagulls on the grinder in the afternoon than in the morning and it has everyone wondering...is the chicken really chicken?
The Division Personnel Inspection went terribly. I received UNSAT because I had two mess ups. The first one, I had a mental block when I was shown a flash card of a rank ensignia that I incorrectly replied "Chief Petty Officer." It had one star above the anchor, indicating "Senior Chief Petty Officer.' The other hit was the edge of my belt that was a little frayed. Surprisingly, the CC took the blame for that. About 20 or so were unsat. I was very upset and almost cried while waiting for the inspection to be done with.
I don't want to be set back in training and start over in a new company. Mostly because a bond is already forming and I enjoy this company. It would be difficult to have to go back to the beginning and start over. I've seen it in the recruit who was set back into our company last week. He was set back several times and said that if he gets set back again, then he's going to do something crazy so he can get out of here permanently.
Garner, who slept in the lower bunk next to me, left the company today for medical reasons. He'll be in a junior company or he might get lucky and be back in our company.
Everytime someone leaves, we all feel like we're missing something. For some reason, it lowers your morale to see a shipmate leave.
Wolfe threatened suicide in order to be bagged out of the Navy. He decided that he's had enough and wants out.
I expected a major cycling for our company for doing terribly on the P.I. but our CCs just talked to us about teamwork and gave us a kind, motivational and encouraging words in a normal tone of voice. I was surprised that our CCs could be that nice, but it does encourage me more than yelling or pushups ever will. We still don't have any priviledges.
In the evening, we had a loud thunderstorm, a fitting end to a rough day.