As someone who has never been in the military, I can only assume that those first days, weeks, and months are fraught with plenty of anxiety, among other things.
When people are under pressure, though, some of them respond with humor as a defense mechanism – and I imagine those are the moments drill sergeants live for.
They’re the moments these 16 sergeants couldn’t forget, at any rate, so please enjoy their tales.
16. An unfortunate name.
I feel bad for the guy but I gotta say it. His last name was Smellie. As in, “smelly”.
So when I had him come into the class for the orientation/admin day the very first day, I ask everyone to stand up and give their rank, name, serial number. So when I heard “Private Smellie”, I lost it. I felt so bad for the guy.
I don’t know what fully came of Smellie, but this was back in 2007 and I had heard he didn’t make it through BMQ, and VR’d (voluntary release). This was in the Canadian Forces.
I have terrible vision. I had SUPER-THICC BCGs. During our super-lunch before leaving BCT and going to AIT, one of my Drills sits across from me and says:
“Private, those are some dense glasses. Can you see the future with those?”
“Yes, Drill Sarnt”
“OH!? What’s in your future Private?”
“Pushups, Drill Sarnt”
14. He rewrote it all.
We had a strict rule to write official documents with a blue pen. It is a NATO standard and has its excuses but all in all, it’s one of those things.
I had checked about 200 lines of weapons check-outs and in’s when at the bottom of the page(it has 50 on one side of the page) there was one entry in black. As you would imagine I found out who it was pretty quickly. Given the entry had his name and weapon number staring right at me.
Now the military has this thing where you go through ‘basic training’ for everything. I mean if you are given a pair of speakers, you are mandated to read the safety and usage instructions and give a signature for it, so they can’t be held liable to some degree.
This absolute piece of twig and sap looks at me with the most uncanny look when i confronted him about it. After a bit of friendly banter in-front of his whole room i ask: “So what is your excuse for using black ink?”.
“Sir, i’ve yet to get the formal safety and usage training for the blue pen, sir!”
He rewrote all 100 entries in blue pen that evening after being the only soldier to get training to use a blue pen instead of a black one. But man. That was a special moment where all the muscles in my face were fighting not to laugh.
The reason he had to rewrite 100 is due to the system in place for keeping track of weapons and ammo. Can’t say much but there are certain ways to get info faster if you set it up in a certain way.
But also because crossing out something was also a big no-no with weapons logs. So it screwed up our system to keep track of stuff and also made my commanding lose his brains when someone crossed something out.
I’m not gonna get into the combination of black ink and crossing out with my CO.
13. You have to salute.
One of my buddies has some amazing stories from DS time.
My favorite was about a pair of trainees walking down the sidewalk towards an officer. The one trainee (A) was carrying a large box with both hands, and the other (B) was walking to his right and had nothing in his hands.
The officer was getting ready to return the salute he knew was incoming, but the two trainees were visibly freaking out – how could A salute with both hands occupied?
B got the bright idea to salute with his right hand, appropriately, and to salute for his buddy with his left hand and a resounding “GOOD MORNING SIR”. This really needs the visual, but picture a Ginyu Force/Usain Bolt arm position.
The drill sergeants were falling over each other to go tear them apart, stifling laughter the whole time.
12. That’s how you work together.
Our DS called us a bunch of $$sholes who were not team players. So we came up with a cadence that had us yelling “week to week. Cheek to cheek. Us a$$holes stick together”.
The DS would try to hide his smiles when we pulled that one out.
11. A bit concerning.
I ordered the platoon to form up facing West. One troop asked, “Master corporal, our West or your West?”
I just walked away angrily and let his peers sort him out. I came out of my office and they were facing East…
10. Everything is sweating.
Crying while doing push ups, gets asked “Why are you crying?”
Answer: I’m not crying sir, my eyes are sweating.
9. What a numbnuts.
Not a DS but doing my best to translate ranks etc. from Finnish military: I served as an instructor for new conscripts during the latter half of my own conscript service.
We were testing how well the new conscripts had learned the ranks of our military. They would wait in line and when it was their turn I’d show them a piece of paper with the symbol of a rank in it. They would adress me properly, tell their name and say the rank. For example: “Sir Corporal sir, conscript last name, a Captain.”
The rank depicted on the piece of paper I showed was Corporal, which was also my rank and thus on my jacket, very visibly. The new conscript first adressed me “Sir general sir”. I raised an eyebrow and he quickly tried to fix his mistake: “sir second general sir” (a rank that would be right below general if it existed, which it does not).
The conscript behind him made a chuckle so he fixed his mistake again saying “Sir corporal sir, conscript last name, I don’t remember the rank you are showing”. I said “You just said it.” He went quiet in thought for a few seconds, then happily said “a conscript!”
8. No wrong answer.
My dad tells me this story all the time.
Back in the 80s when he was doing basic training the DS was going down the line asking why everyone joined and my dad was like “oh s*%t, I don’t have a good answer for this” and was nervous
DS goes to the guy next to my dad, asks the question and the guy says “TO DEFEND MY COUNTRY SIR”. DS goes “THAT’S BULLS*%T, YOU’RE HERE FOR THE MONEY AND THE EDUCATION”
And that became everyone’s answer
7. Kind of the point.
I had a particularly troublesome private who (for a long, complicated set of reasons involving – and this is key – a lack of judgment) I had required to stand fire picket outside of a port-a-john immediately adjacent to the brigade CP I was running.
I gave him a clip-board with an approved access list and required him to log all authorized visitors in and out of the john, which was the only real (read not a hole in the ground) facility anywhere for at least ten kilometres. He didn’t much like his job, but that was kind of the point.
Being the CP for the whole FTX, VIP visitors were to be expected. We had the brigade commander pull up and take the usual tour of CP – she looked at the master event list, checked where everybody was, called someone on the radio “to make sure that it worked” but really just to call herself Sunray etc.
That done, she excused herself to take advantage of the only toilette in the AOO. She returned a surprisingly long while later, made a cryptic comment about the facilities, collected her sergeant major and left.
It was at that point that I remembered that I’d left a borderline idiot posted up outside of the s*%tter. When I asked him what had happened, the following interaction occurred:
“The colonel wanted to use the john, sergeant!”
Fine, I told him, but what took her so long?
“I refused her access, sergeant!”
I was about to ask him why the apocryphal f**k anyone would do such a thing when I saw his white knuckles on the clip-board, and the answer became obvious: he had questionable judgment and she hadn’t been on the access list. Trying to keep my cool, I asked him what she had thought about that.
“She was very nice sergeant, said I was right to challenge her on that!”
Ok, I said, and then what?
“Then she told me to get the fuck out of her way or she was going to take a s*%t in my hat, sergeant.”
And did she take a s*%t in your hat, private?
I swear to god I think I saw him start to check. It was lucky for us that she had a sense of humour about it, but maybe not so lucky for him.
6. In the guide.
We had just finished our obstacle course and we were lined up in the squad bay getting ready to be hazed for sure, the guide was just fired he couldn’t complete the course. Drill instructors were pissed!! (Guide is the guy who is up front with the flag in the platoon – Marines)
Drill instructor asked “who in here wants to be the guide??”
Everyone quiet, you could only hear the previous guide getting quarterdecked (they make you do exercises and yelling at you) and sounds of things slamming and other recruits yelling in other squad bays.
Out of nowhere this dude says “I think “The Rock” should be the guide”
Drill instructor snapped a turn and got right on his face. Then asked him “who the f**k is The Rock??”
At this point I closed my eyes and I just said under my breath…… “fuck”. I had no idea it would be so obvious even at boot camp. People had always told me I looked like Dwayne Johnson.
This guy proceeded to say my name and then the drill instructor got right on my face and asked me to do the eyebrow.
Normally I would do it joking with friends and family, but this time it was an order. It felt different, I knew I couldn’t laugh after.
He had the hardest face while looking at me, and I proceeded to do the eyebrow, his Campaign cover snapped down so fast as soon as I did it, you could tell that he was holding his laugh and a few recruits couldn’t hold their curiosity and also smirked. I could tell as my eyes wondered for like half a second.
He put his fingers up to my face without saying anything, his Cover still down, you couldn’t see his face. He walked away. Everyone was quiet, nobody was moving.
A minute later he comes back with the other two drill instructors. And proceeds to ask me to do the eyebrow again, all looking at me like they hate me.
I did the eyebrow.
They all smirked and tried so hard to not laugh and proceeded to walk away toward their office as fast as they could. Once in there you could heard their laughs again and again and how the whole mood change for everyone that day.
We still got hazed and yelled at. I became the Guide and The Rock in the same day.
5. No answer for that.
Recruit fired all his blank ammo during “ambush response” training. He crawled in ditch to opposite where the aggressors were, and started throwing rocks at them.
DI came running in middle of the road blowing his whistle and screaming “what the f**k are you doing?’. Recruit screamed back,” throwing hand grenades drill sergeant.’
With out missing a beat, the DI screamed “out f**king standing.” and walked away.
4. Stop it.
Marching the troops back to the barracks after lunch, I noticed a recruit with a white stain on his hip pocket. I halted the platoon and got in the recruits face. Me: “recruit, that white stain on your shirt better be because you are excited for this afternoons training”
Recruit “no Sgt. I am saving my snack for later”
Me: “what snack are you saving?” Recruit “ice cream”
3. A perfect crease.
Back in basic there was a huge amount of importance put on ironing creases. This was back before the Navy switched from Utilities to Digis.
Anyways, our RDC was a turbo-harda$$ 9 year Senior Chief; Chief Faulise (I think I spelled that right). So we’re all doing morning inspection, having ironed our clothes sometime during the night, when Chief sees some random recruit just walking though the hallway looking like absolute s*%t.
Chief called the recruit into our compartment, and had him take part in our inspection. This recruits uniform looked like it had been balled up and steamed. To this day I still can’t fathom how he managed to look so f**ked up.
So Chief looked at this kid and his f**ked uniform and started laying into him with the usual. “You look like hammered dog s*%t. I’ve seen smoother nut sacks.” etc… when Chief asks him “Did you iron even a single article since you’ve arrived” and the recruit replied “CHIEF, I IRONED MY SKIVVIES, CHIEF!”
Keep in mind we’re all standing at parade rest as this was transpiring. That means you couldn’t move or make a sound.
So Chief, hearing that this kid ironed his skivvies (underwear) made him dress down to his skivvies and march around the compartment saying “I IRONED MY SKIVVIES, CHIEF!”. We almost f**king died from holding in the laughter.
There was another time during basic that was pretty good too. Chief Faulise, like many RDCs, had a whole arsenal of insults at his disposal. But his favorite was definitely calling someone a bag of d*%ks.
So this guy is running track, and he’s struggling to keep a good pace. Chief starts motivating him with insults. I can’t quite remember the earlier ones, but eventually Chief called this guy a pu**y. That’s when this recruit replied “I’d prefer a bag of d*%ks, Chief!”
Basic was some of the most fun I had in the military.
2. Pack everything.
Planning a ruck sack March a private asked his section commander what he needed to pack. The Sgt said pack everything on your kit list.
As we are out on a 16km (10mile) March I look the private up and down and note his ruck looks a little light. I whisper to my friend ( his Sgt) this fact. At the next rest break The Sgt goes over and picks up the private’s rucksack.
There appeared to be nothing in it.
The Sgt (who’s 6’3”, 240lb and mean and ugly) goes to the private and after a few expletives asks him to empty out his ruck. The young private pulls out a piece of paper and says, “ you told me to pack my kit list Sgt”.
It took every will in my being not to lose my shit at that moment. Needless to say the young private had remedial ruck marches for the rest of the week.
Afterwards us section commanders had a great laugh at the audacity of the young lad.
Man I miss those days.
1. Quick thinking.
But I was US Infantry, serving in Korea. We were part of a mixed US/Korea unit, and during a briefing, one of the Korean soldiers fell asleep. Our sergeant wakes him up and begins screaming at him.
The soldier said “No Sergeant, you got it all wrong. In Korea, it’s a sign of respect to listen with your eyes closed, because then you have no other distractions.”
The sergeant bought it, and as soon as the meeting was over and the sergeant was out of earshot, we all cracked up.
Y’all these are downright hilarious.
I still don’t want to join the military, but I am amused.
If you’ve got a similar story, our comments are open!