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  • Mike Cramer

The Day I Was Drafted

On September 16 th. I remember it well. It was the day I was drafted into the Army. Wow, I said….how did this happen? Because you dropped out of college you dummy…and that was one of the only ways to get out of the draft! Moron. OK, self examination aside, the draft had a lot to do with the growth of college. Not because we wanted to go. We HAD to go or it was off to rice paddy #3 for us! But I digress, we can talk about the amazing growth of college later. On September 16 th I entered the Army and began a long, grueling training process. First basic training in beautiful Fort Benning, Georgia, which, might as well be a foreign country. It’s huge! And no one knows where it really is…and the language spoken there is similar to, but not quite…English. Then Advanced Training in Fort Gordon, Georgia. More training. More training. Much more training. And then finally I was off! Overseas! I was ready! I was trained to death! I was a lean, mean communicating machine! Until I arrived at my first post! My Commanding Officer immediately pulled me aside and ordered me to instantly and forever purge my memory of all training I had received prior to that day…April 15! Six months of training, every day……forget it! Now! He introduced to me to Sgt. Polk. Sgt. Polk screamed something unintelligible and began my real life, in the field, training. Within two weeks I had been transformed from a NUG (New Useless Guy) to a full blown member of an efficient, functioning Army unit responsible for virtually all of the electronic communications in our field of operations. The equipment, procedures, objectives of my training had either been made obsolete or was roundly ignored by the realities of the field. Being out there in the real world, where performance can actually make a difference…a really big difference, was quite a bit different than training in a classroom back in Georgia. There is another great example of this phenomenon in the movie “Platoon”. If you haven’t seen it you should…..Charlie Sheen’s character…completely trained and ready to go is passing out from heat exhaustion from all the stuff he has been told he will need in the field…on the job. William Defoe’s character, his commander, is stripping him of all the unnecessary equipment he is carrying and encouraging him to live instead…..Very poignant moment! Makes you think……

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