The First Drill


It was raining when they pulled through the gates of Lackland Air Force Base. I was feeling nervous because I was not certain to expect during basic training.

The sign over the guard station read, ‘Gateway to the Air Force,’ and I thought, “That’s pretty catchy.”

During the flight from California the group had been load and boastful. Suddenly they were quiet.

The silence grew more and more severe as the hours on the bus increased. At the airport a sergeant had screamed at us and called us names.

It was no longer a great adventure, it was now serious business.

The bus made a noisy hiss as it came to a stop. To the right was a yellow building with several doors.

They were all open and the fluorescent lights threw their bright white light out onto the puddle water of the asphalt parking area. The door to the bus opened up and on stepped a man.

He wore a green poncho and smoky bear hat covered with clear plastic, “Alright ladies, off your asses and on your feet!”

A terrible tremble develop in my knees, but I did as told.  It took only a few minutes to get the bus unloaded.

And within those few minutes everyone but the sergeant was soaked. He stood there looking at us, slowly moved his head to the left to right, both hands on his intimidatingly on his hips.

Soon another bus pulled up in place of the one that had just deposited the wet group standing on the wet asphalt. They too unloaded just as quickly, which was not quick enough for us.

“Alright, Ladies,” the sergeant bellowed, “Pick up your bags.”

As quickly as we could we picked up our bags. It was not quick enough we soon found out.

“Put them down!” the man shouted.

Then as quickly as he finished the first order, he said, “Pick them up!”

Again we tried to get it right. And again we failed.

The rain beat down on us so hard that it splashed back up into our faces after it struck the asphalt’s surface. This routine continued for nearly two hours.

“Pick them up,” the man in the poncho and smoky bear hat would shout. Then “Put them down.”

Over and over this continued until he was finally satisfied that we had done it in unison. From there he counted we off in fours and allowed us into the building where it was dry.

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