During basic training at Fort Leavenworth, our sergeant asked if anyone had
“artistic” abilities. Having been an architectural draftsman in civilian life, I raised my hand. Then the
sergeant announced that everyone would get a three-day pass … except me. I would stay behind and neatly print each soldier’s name onto his Army-issued underwear.
Steven Silver, Scarsdale, New York
The steaming jungles of Vietnam were not my husband’s first choice
of places to spend his 21st birthday. However, the mood was brightened when he received a birthday cake from his sister. It was carefully
encased in a Tupperware container and came with this note: “Dick, when you’re finished, can you mail back my container?”
Kathy Wilson, Chaska, Minnesota
We were inspecting several lots of grenades. While everyone was concentrating on the task at hand, I held up a spare pin and asked, “Has anyone seen my grenade?”
SMSgt. Dan Powell, from rallypoint.com
The military has a long, proud tradition of pranking recruits. Here are some favorites from rallypoint.com:
• Instructed a private in the mess hall to look for left-handed spatulas
• Sent a recruit to medical-supplies office in search of fallopian tubes
• Had a new guy conduct a
“boom test” on a howitzer by yelling “Boom!” down the tube in order to “calibrate” it
• Ordered a private to bring back
a five-gallon can of dehydrated water (in fact, the sergeant just wanted an empty water can)
My 90-year-old dad was giving
a talk at our local library about his World War II experiences. During the question-and-answer period, he was asked, “How did you know the war was over?”
He replied, “When they stopped shooting at me.”
Lynette Combs, Norfolk, Virginia
In college, my freshman-year roommate was in ROTC and came from a long line of military men. Trask (his last name) used that
heritage to lord it over me. But I had the last laugh.
One night, he returned to the dorm in his perfectly pressed
uniform, his newly acquired name tag in his hand. Reluctantly, he showed it to me. In large gold letters was printed: TRASH.
Gary Severson, Nooksack, Washington
1) In World War II, a German
U-boat was sunk because of a
2) American combat dolphins,
deployed in the Persian Gulf,
surrounded and captured an
3) The pen used by the military meets 16 pages of military specs.
4) At the real-life Topgun program—the one the film was based on—
there is a $5 fine for any staffer who
references or quotes the movie.
5) The Franco-Prussian War
ended in a stalemate and had to
be settled by a winner-take-all game of backgammon played by the two countries’ prime ministers.
Answers: 1-T; 2-F; 3-T; 4-T; 5-F
After my niece returned from
her second tour in Iraq, I remarked how beautiful her complexion looked. “What do you use on your face to keep it so smooth?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said. “I’ve been sandblasted.”
Wanda kaltreider, Wrightsville, Pennsylvania
During orientation at Fort Sill, in Oklahoma, our first sergeant stated that if anyone lost his locker key to see him, as he kept a master key in his office. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I lost my key. I walked into the orderly’s room and asked Sarge if
I could borrow his master key.
“Why, certainly, young man,” he said, as he reached under his desk and handed me a large pair of bolt cutters.
John Dannar, Pasadena, Texas
• We made a private sweep all the sunshine off the sidewalks. It took the poor guy all day. —benSavageGardenState
• Our squad leader was yelling at a soldier when he abruptly stopped and said, “I’m done yelling at you. It doesn’t work.” He stormed off and returned carrying a small potted tree. “You will carry this tree with you wherever you go. If anyone asks you why you’re carrying this tree, you will say, ‘It’s to replace the oxygen I stole from everyone else.’” —Tain01
• A recruit thought he was special because he was an Eagle Scout. The drill instructor picked up on this and took him into the woods and made him build a nest. Then he had him squat over it in order to keep his eggs warm. —V_E_R_S_E
When a soldier came to the
clinic where I work for an MRI, he was put into the machine by an
attractive, young technician. Sometime later, when the examination
was over, he was helped out of the machine by a far older woman. The soldier remarked, “How long was
I in there for?”
Joanne Korman, Bedford, Nova Scotia
Coffee tastes better if the latrines are dug downstream from an encampment.
While in Kuwait, shortly before we deployed to Iraq, a major general told our meeting that we should
expect to cross “into Iraq in less than 24 hours.” He then opened the floor to questions.
A lieutenant stood up and asked, “Is that 24 hours our time or 24 hours their time?”
Jesse Kane, Iowa City, Iowa
My gunnery sergeant and
I were inspecting a Marine training exercise when we spotted a second lieutenant ambling about. “Where is your foxhole, Lieutenant?” I asked.
He snapped off a salute and
responded, “I don’t know, sir!”
Turning to the sergeant, he asked, “Gunnery, where is my foxhole?”
“You’re standing in it, sir,” said
the sergeant. “All you have to do is remove the dirt.”
Ret. Lt. Col. Joseph Como,
Greenwood, South Carolina
“Halt!” shouted our drill
instructor. He had noticed that, for the umpteenth time, a recruit kept going to his right on a left command. Our instructor approached the
directionally challenged Marine
and stomped on his left foot. “Now,” he said, “when I say ‘left,’ it’s the
one that hurts.”
Wayne Schroeder, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
It was sheer brilliance. The ship’s operations officer entered
the messdeck, his eyes bleary and at half-mast. He grabbed a bagel and took a seat. Unfortunately, the sun was shining through a porthole right onto his face. Rather than move, he called the bridge: “Hey,” he said, “can you shift the ship 15 degrees? Thanks.”
Students are great about
sending our troops letters, and the troops love ’em. You can see why:
“Dear Soldier, If you’re having
a rough day, remember the most
important thing in life is to be
yourself. Unless you can be Batman.”
“Dear Veterans, You rock more than AC/DC or Metallica or Red
Hot Chili Peppers.”
“I am so happy you are risking your life for the USA! My grandpa Bob was in the Navy. Now he likes peanuts.”
Sometimes I think war is God’s way of teaching us geography.
Comedian Paul Rodriguez
My friend, an Air Force officer, was riding his scooter when he passed an airman who didn’t salute. My friend stopped, turned around, and glared at the airman.
“Thanks for coming back for me,” the airman said, jumping on the back of the scooter. “Airmen’s mess, sir.”
Savita Singh, Noida, India
I was working in Army security when a VIP from another base called to ask to whom he should address an important letter. Knowing my tough-to-spell last name would give him fits, I said, “Just put down Sergeant Gary, as my last name is too hard.”
The next day, I received a letter addressed to Sgt. Gary Toohard.
G. C., via mail