For anyone who has contemplated joining any branch of the military, I have one piece of critical advice for them:
"If you can't function well without sleep, forget it."
If there's one thing that the military absolute HATES, it is sleep. Whether it is war or peace, the military operates on a 24/7/365 basis. Various governments and individuals have tried various drugs over the years to extract more non-sleep from their service members and themselves, with the German’s widespread use of a form of amphetamine called Pervitin during WW2 probably among the more infamous applications. Elvis Presley was allegedly on speed while in Germany, the speed-freak Krauts providing a potent over-the-counter amphetamine called X112, which came in liquid and tablet forms. During the 1991 Gulf War, U.S. pilots, feeling the need for speed, were also jacked up with some form of meth.
When soldiers are in garrison and in their own barracks (or billets, take your pick), not a day goes by when they aren't being babysat by the Charge of Quarters, or CQ. The CQ was usually a junior Non Commissioned Officer ("NCO") who was assigned one or two enlisted men who were called CQ Runners. In addition to the babysitting function, the CQ handled any off-hours business that affected the unit, such as alerts. The arms room, of course, was checked frequently. After the final formation and everyone who lived off-post went home, it was usually fairly boring and uneventful during the week, but the weekends were usually the total opposite. The following is a fairly typical example of what happens during weekend CQ duty, which lasts for 24 hours; neither the CQ nor the runners are supposed to sleep during this whole time.
Shortly after I had Corporal stripes pinned on me (the worst rank in the Army), I got CQ duty. One of the reasons I was “promoted” was that the unit at the time had a shortage of junior NCOs to pull CQ, among other things. The duty kicked off at 0800 when I read the previous log (DA Form 1594) and discovered that a FISTer (Fire Support Teamer, also known as a forward observer), on leave and apparently drunk, went berserk and called in, threatening to kill the Battery Commander (“BC”), the Executive Officer (“XO”), the First Sergeant (“1SG”), and a few select others.
The day was fairly routine, except during the last formation; someone who had just separated (but whose wife was still active-duty) and reeling drunk, dropped by to loudly cuss out the BC. Nobody intervened because everyone hated the BC’s guts, including the officers. His ex-section chief and a few others managed to remove him from the scene, and we all got a good laugh, as the BC was a total dick. If the guy had physically attacked the BC, nobody would have intervened, not at first, anyway.
The night (a Friday) was fairly typical. It was relatively quiet until about 2100 (that’s 9:00 PM), and after that, the games began. Among the troops going out were two new guys in my section, one of whom was named McClellan. McClellan was a strange dude, who was always kind of spaced-out. He was a mediocre soldier, mostly because he was completely devoid of initiative, which made me laugh, as the Civil War Union General McClellan evidently had the same problem. I called him a voice-activated robot, because he would literally do what he was told; nothing more and nothing less. At first I thought he was messing with me, but others who went through training with him said that’s just how he was. OK then. I advised them to stay out of trouble.
As the evening went on, I had a woman who kept calling for someone else who eventually settled on me to try to have phone sex with. I had another one who called every ten minutes looking for someone who wasn't there, and was accusing me of hiding him. Three black dudes in the , a tall one, a medium one, and a short one ditched a cab earlier, and I had an angry cabbie trying to recover his fare. Although I knew exactly which three he was talking about, I explained to the cabbie that it was an old trick for someone to be picked up from a different building so they'd be more difficult to track down after ditching the fare. The cabbie described them perfectly, among other things as being tall, medium, and short black dudes. The cabbie eventually left, empty-handed. As the barracks cleared out for the time being, I spent most of the next couple of hours alternately dealing with Ms. Phone Sex and Ms. I Know He's There.
Around midnight, one guy came in staggering drunk, and we put him on the drunk bunk next to the CQ desk. A drunk bunk is a bedframe without a mattress that excessively soused soldiers are put on to keep them under watch and to prevent them from doing things like choking on their own vomit and/or setting something on fire. After that there was three different loud verbal and physical altercations within a few hours; two in the parking lot and one in the barracks. All over women, and all involving alcohol. While checking the arms room, I noticed a car full of our guys in the back parking lot with the unmistakable aroma of marijuana smoke billowing out of it. I noticed the Staff Duty Officer (“SDO”, which is the officer’s version of CQ) on his way and shooed them off. Just then, someone in the barracks starting cranking Metallica at maximum volume on their stereo. Running up there, I unlocked the door to find a guy passed out drunk, with a pyramid of empty beer cans on a table in addition to the ones strewn about the room. Drunk bunk candidate #2.
I had just killed the stereo when the SDO came in; he proceeded to chew my ass over that one, but I pointed out that it was a pretty busy night, but he didn’t care (“The maximum effective range of an excuse is zero-point-zero meters.”). After that settled down, I found myself playing a cat-and-mouse game with a mousy-looking soldier who was trying to smuggle some pussy up into his room. Females were strictly forbidden from being in the rooms, but I felt like a total hypocrite by enforcing it, as I had also smuggled chicks into my room on a couple of occasions. I was content to sweat him, which I successfully did.
Around 0400 or so, things began to quiet down. Everyone in the barracks was crashed out by this point, and when the phone didn’t ring for about ten minutes, I figured everyone had finally called it a night. Around 0500, two of the guys I had seen leave earlier came back, but without McClellan. According to them, McClellan “got lucky”, and some chick took him home, which I found hard to believe for some reason, but whatever.
Just before I got off duty at 0800, McClellan came staggering in, looking like he spent some time in an industrial dryer but otherwise OK. I asked how it went, and he was lost in thought for several seconds before finally blurting out his answer:
“I fucked her in her mouth, I fucked her in her tits, I fucked her in her pussy, and then I left.”
After recovering from the mild shock, I said, “And she told you to do all of that too, didn’t she?” He nodded his head slowly, and solemnly said “Yes”, before blankly walking off to his room. A few minutes later, my relief showed up, and I was finally off duty, or so I thought. For the first time in a couple of hours the phone rang; it was the relief runner, who needed to be picked up from a motel after being cleaned out by a whore. I had to stick around for another half-hour before finally hitting the rack. Another CQ session successfully completed.