A Veterans Day Story – Part 3

Snaps heels together, pops right hand to eyebrow, left hand at side, thumb down, eyes front.

salute

TO THE VETERANS OF THE U.S., I SALUTE YOU.

To Honor Veterans Day, through a series of posts, I have written a short but very true story of my experience as an Air Force recruit… This is Part 3. I hope you enjoy it!

PART 3

So… what is a chow runner? A chow runner is the unfortunate trainee who has the privilege and horror of presenting the flight (that’s what the AF calls a group — like a platoon) to the ‘snake pit’ (which is a table of nothing but venomous T.I.s waiting to strike the poor recruit in the jugular with their fangs). Yes, every morning, afternoon, and evening, I had the not-so-delightful experience of utter terror — standing in front of the snake pit reciting a prepared speech, which I had to memorize quickly.

This tall guy standing at attention in his civilian clothes is an unfortunate Chow Runner
This tall guy standing at attention is an unfortunate Chow Runner. The table is usually full of Instructors. He’s lucky, there’s only one and what looks like his T.I. coaching him.

Now, on the first day, because I was cocky and confident and happy, I memorized it. But by the time the snake pit got done with me, I couldn’t remember a single word of it, not even my name. I had to pull out the index card on which the spiel was written, and read it. It was difficult too, because my hands were trembling so much I could hardly steady the card. They scared the crap out of me. My knees were knocking. I was stuttering. And they all got a kick out of it.

As the chow runner, I was the first person in the chow hall but the last person to sit down to eat. That means, I had to inhale my food because I had to be finished eating by the time the last person seated had finished. Keep in mind, I couldn’t even get my food until the last person had already been seated. I learned to eat very fast and efficiently.

Poor guy. Chow Runner standing in the snake pit. I did this every day, three times a day, for six weeks!
Poor guy. Chow Runner standing in the snake pit. I did this every day, three times a day, for six weeks!

I remember after the first night, sitting on the floor beside my footlocker reading my contract trying to figure out how to get out of it. I couldn’t IMAGINE doing six years of pure hell. What had I gotten myself into? And, being punitively assigned Chow Runner only made my hell that much more petrifying.

By week two (certainly by week three), I was an old pro at it. The snake pit was like a little compost box — just worms doing what they do. I could even snicker at the newer recruits who had somehow fallen victim to being Chow Runner. It was a rite of passage that let me know I could do just about anything I put my mind to.

Room inspections. Also brutal.
Room inspections. Also brutal.

The Obstacle Course

The obstacle course was the physical final exam so-to-speak to graduate from BMT (basic military training). For six weeks, ultimately, we prepared for this physical test. Here are some pictures of the actual course (I couldn’t find one that showed all of the obstacles but here are a few). Yep, we even had to crawl under the barbed wire (couldn’t find a picture of that one).

I will admit that your girl (me) fell into the water as I swung across on the rope (see that dirty little pond there in the first pic — yeah, I fell in that). Couldn’t hold on any longer. So, I had to complete the remainder of the course (at least more than half of it) soaking wet!!

[End of my story of being recruited into the United States Air Force]

HAPPY VETERANS DAY (which seems like such an odd thing to say because a great percentage of veterans have lost so much serving this country and have received so little for their sacrifices).

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