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Army Airborne School

After two months of basic training, and three months of AIT, I was sent to Fort Benning for parachute training, known as "jump school". Jump school was to be three weeks, and was a required course for my future Army unit. I was looking forward to the training, and to get a chance to jump out of airplanes.

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to play with plastic toy soldiers, and I would make parachutes for them with plastic Wonder Bread bags and string. I was also a fan of the movie "The Longest Day", and enjoyed the part where the paratroopers were parachuting over France in the middle of the night to fight the Germans. It was these things which motivated me to ask my recruiter for a job in an Airborne unit. Almost a year after walking into the recruiting office, here I was, arriving at Fort Benning.

Our bus had a mix of young men on it. Many of us were going to jump school, infantry school, or other schools, while there were a few new recruits on their way to start basic training. The bus was noisy with many conversations, the more experienced soldiers giving advice, or telling horror stories to the recruits, or bullshitting among themselves. For everyone but the recruits, it was just another bus ride.

Our bus first dropped off the recruits and infantry trainees, and eventually ended up at the jump school. As we approached I could see the tall jump towers in the large field which is right across from the jump school barracks. There was a monument in front of an old C47 transport plane, and the Airborne Museum. I was told that I would be assigned to Bravo company, which would begin training the next day.

I reported to Bravo company, and handed over my paperwork. The orderly looked at my paperwork and frowned. He said "the results to your physical exam aren't here". He then told me that I couldn't begin training without my physical exam records. I thought that since I had just completed basic training and AIT, that it was obvious I had passed my physical exam. But apparently the standards for Airborne training were higher, and they needed proof that I met those standards.

So, I could not train with Bravo company. I had to go get my physical on Monday morning, and afterwards report to Alpha company, who would begin training in two weeks. I dreaded the two week delay, because it would not be a holiday, it would be full of details which were usually crap jobs no one else wanted to do. In this, I was right.

I reported to Alpha company. They assigned me a bunk, and issued me bed linens. I found my bunk in a four-man room, empty as of yet, I was the first one to arrive. Since I was the first, I chose the bunk I wanted, unpacked my gear, and arranged my new wall locker. Then I took a look around the barracks, getting to know where everything was. Then I reported back to the orderly room, but as it was the weekend, they had nothing for me to do until Monday, when I would have to report for my physical exam.

I then went for a walk around the Airborne school, looking at the towers, the buildings, and the monuments. I passed by the OCS school, and a cadet there who was on police call jumped to the position of parade rest, and said "good morning private". It was the first time I had ever been addressed with respect in the Army. It turned out that officers candidates held no rank whatsoever, and that even a lowly private like myself was higher on the food chain than they were. But the day would come soon when the tables were turned, and I would be showing the cadet respect once he became a 2nd lieutenant.

Monday came, and I took and passed my physical. I was then assigned to various details over the next two weeks. These included cleaning the cabins at the recreational camp grounds, painting the benches at the place were Airborne ground training was performed, waxing and polishing the floors at the headquarters (I got high marks for this, I was in charge of the floors in basic and AIT). I also had a detail at the parachute rigging building, which was the most boring detail. I also picked up trash on police call, which gave me a chance to explore more of the post.

As the days went on, more and more people showed up for the next class, and the barracks began to fill up. Unlike basic training and AIT, in jump school there were soldiers of almost every age, many ranks, enlisted and officer, and from every branch of service. We got to meet experienced soldiers, some of whom had recently returned from the Gulf War. I was surprised at how large the class was, Alpha company would have far more men (and some women) than my basic training or AIT companies.

We met our instructors, who were called "black hats", as instead of wearing berets or field caps, they wore black baseball caps with their jump wings and rank pinned on the front. When we addressed them, we had to say "Sergeant Airborne". Instead of "yes" or "no", we had to answer with "clear, Sergeant Airborne", or "not clear, Sergeant Airborne". Our instructors were very motivated, many were former Rangers or combat veterans, a few had a gold star on their jump wings, denoting that they had made a combat jump. Our company First Sergeant was a former Marine who had served in Vietnam, before changing services to come to the Army. Our captain was a former Ranger instructor, who had gone to OCS after reaching the enlisted rank of sergeant first class. If anyone was curious about what a "real man" was, there were plenty of examples to be found among our company cadre.

We had our meals in the company mess hall, and the food was not a bit different than basic or AIT, which meant mediocre. When we were out on details, we often had MRE's, which were less than mediocre. If I could, I preferred to head over to the Burger King, and get my meals there.

Eventually it was time for our class to begin. The barracks was full, everyone was ready to start, and training would begin bright and early on Monday.
 
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What year was this written? I would assume this took place last week but some some of the verbiage used is not used by someone who recently graduated basic and AIT.


Edit : Nevermind. I saw the post about basic training. Halfway through page one. I recently changed jobs and my new MOS has a demand for Airborne qualified people. I passed my physical and volunteered to go, just to stay in NC and they said nope your going to Texas.
 
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Training did not begin bright and early, it began dark and early. We formed up for PT wearing BDU's, and not PT clothes. We were told to hold up our arms, and roll back our sleeves. This was to check to see if anyone was wearing a watch. Watches were forbidden, and anyone who was wearing one had to hand it over, and drop for pushups. I was one of those who was caught. The black-hat in charge of my squad wore my watch for the rest of the day.

The instructors don't tell you why you aren't allowed to wear a watch, but I suspected it was so we could not time our runs. Jump school companies were mixed, and we had about 15 or so females in our company. We were supposed to run at a nine-minute per mile pace, but I was pretty sure they ran us faster than that. We headed out onto the road, and began our run; "Jesse James said before he died...", etc. We generally ran laps around the tower field, singing Airborne cadence songs. The run was challenging for me, as our PT at Fort Sam had been quite easy. In jump school we had to run everywhere, no walking, falling out of two runs would disqualify you from jump school. I wasn't worried about falling out, but the run was not as easy as I had hoped. Surprisingly, more than half our female trainees fell out of that first run. By Friday, we had only one left.

We did PT in sawdust pits, which were roofed to keep out the rain. The sawdust was itchy, especially when you are covered with sweat, and had shaved only an hour before. We soon discovered that there were large beetles and grubs in the sawdust, which alarmed a few of us, especially the females. The PT was not especially hard, the usual pushups and sit-ups. But added to these were pull-ups, something which I had not done up until then. We had to do pull-ups because the old parachutes we would be training with did not have steering toggles, and to control them, we needed to be able to pull down on whichever riser would make us go in the direction desired.

After PT was breakfast, and then we began ground week. Ground week consisted mainly of PLF practice, or parachute landing falls. Military parachutes descend rather quickly, the purpose being to get paratroopers on the ground quickly, and not allow them to be picked off in the air by marksmen. Not knowing how to hit the ground correctly would result in broken bones, or worse. We started by simply jumping forward a short distance, and falling on the ground using the 5 points of contact in order. If you mastered the PLF, you could probably jump off a one-story building without harming yourself. Eventually we moved on to one-meter platforms, and could hit the ground smoothly, and without injury.

Runs grew progressively longer, and possibly faster, and more people began to fall out. My fitness was returning. Unfortunately, someone fell out of the run in front of me, and cut across in front of me to get out of the formation. I fell over him, hitting the ground poorly (despite all the PLF practice), and hurting my ankle. I was sent to the hospital, and was put on a profile for one month. No more training for me, at least for one month.

This didn't mean that I would sit around and do nothing. I couldn't run or jump, but I could still walk easily enough, so there were plenty of details I could be assigned to, so, many details were assigned to me. As my class progressed, I helped arrange and clean up the facilities before and after, and when jump week came, I was assigned to work in the drop zone, where we were to watch for people falling into the trees, and if they did, to get them out. We had only one private land in the woods, getting hung up high in a tree. Getting him down was a major feat. Luckily he was unhurt, but the tree had to be cut down to recover the parachute.

My friends graduated, and my recovery was moving along. I would have to be recycled, that is, begin jump school again from the start. In most cases I would have been sent to another company and train with them, but the length of my profile coincided with Alpha company's next class. I would go through the same company, the same platoon, the same squad, once again.

At the end of the graduation ceremony, most graduates left. But a few remained, these were the few who were taken by the Rangers. The RI's (Ranger Instructors) showed up the day after graduation, wearing black berets and green jungle boots. Those going with them lined up on the cables (the company area is covered with gravel, with cables stretched across for squads to line up on), with all their gear. I watched carefully because I knew that in a few weeks they would be taking me away too. The wannabe Rangers were treated exactly like recruits in basic training, lots of verbal abuse and pushups, before they were marched to the Ranger compound not so far away, I heard them sing as they marched out to the street, "I wanna be an Airborne Ranger, I wanna life of sex and danger..." and the song faded out as they turned the corner.

Thanksgiving dinner came during the downtime period. There were a few people who had shown up for the next class, and we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner together in the mess hall. The black-hats and officers also came to dinner, in their dress uniforms, some green, some blue. As I had now been in Alpha company for 6 weeks, everyone in the cadre new me, and I ate with my squad leader and platoon leader. They had brought their families with them, and we had a good time. Though the usual fare at the mess hall was so-so, Thanksgiving dinner was amazing. There were giant turkeys, which the cooks carved from, as well as large hams. There were real mashed potatoes, amazing pies. A good restaurant could not have served a better meal. I was amazed that they could cook such a meal for one day, but cook what they usually cooked the rest of the year.

As the cadre knew me well (and didn't dislike me), during the detail period I was assigned to linen issue, which meant I had to be at the linen room one hour each morning, and one hour each evening. The rest of the time I was free to do what I wanted, though I usually stayed in the dayroom and helped the new arrivals as they showed up. I was addressed by the cadre as "private Airborne", which caused other trainees to look at me with a little confusion. I got a new room on the first floor in the far wing of the barracks, a private room with it's own toilet and sink, it was beyond imagining. Compared to sleeping in the the four-man rooms or larger bays which held 12 men, it was like palace.

Our First Sergeant, the Vietnam vet and former Marine, a black man born and raised in Mississippi, had a pet peeve against men who pierced their ears or other body parts. He carefully scrutinized every ear and nose which came in, looking for evidence. Any hole would be paid for with a minimum number of pushups, and God help the trainee who came in wearing an earring. Fair or not, he took a special interest in weeding out anyone with piercings. Though most made it through, more than one found the extra "attention" too much, and dropped out.

Training began again, but this time there was something of a change. A huge number of people had shown up, more than could be accommodated in our barracks. There was an especially large number of young men who would be going to the Rangers. In addition to this, there was some kind of policy change which gave priority to regular Army personnel. Those who were guardsmen, reservists, or not assigned to Airborne units would not be allowed to train. A fair number of men (and a few women) dropped out of the formation, and none happily. Many had waited a long time for a slot to open up for jump school, and to be turned away after going all the way to Fort Benning was rather unfair. But the Army didn't care, these unfortunates all when back to wherever it was they had come from.

Training started again on the next Monday, identical to what it had been when I first went through it. I was in the same squad, with the same black-hat instructing us, our student squad leader was a 2nd Lieutenant. Training was identical to what it was when I first went through some weeks ago. But the run was tougher, partly because my profile had prevented me from running, and partly because the cadre wanted to thin out the class by causing as many people to drop out of the runs as they could. This they accomplished; every single female in the company dropped out of the first run, and quite a few men as well.

I had a lot of practice with ground week, and did my PLF's flawlessly. The week went by, and I became accustomed to running again. The next week would be tower week.
 
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Memories were sparked today...

I had been in the Army for over ten years before being stationed at Ft Benning in the mid 90's; I completed Airborne School during the tour.

I didn't mind the Alabama side, but being on the lighter side I usually ended up closer to the tree line than the intended DZ. I remember failing to release a shoulder harness after my first jump and the wind dragging me for a bit.

I enjoyed the thrill of Airborne SchooI, as I did Air Assault School. 20+ years and no regrets.

If you're not the Lead Dog, the view is always the same......
 
Tower week started out with the usual PT in the mornings, as usual, but a little faster on the runs, and a little further. Every day at least a couple of people dropped out, but we still had a large company, so many that the training would have to be changed a bit. We wouldn't be able to use the 250' towers, there simply wasn't enough time for everyone to use them. We were disappointed, as we had watched soldiers from the other companies use the towers, and to us it looked like fun.

We did a lot of exit exercises, and spent a lot of uncomfortable time in the suspended harness. The suspended harness is a parachute harness hung on a pivoting metal disk, and we practiced trying to control the direction of our descent by pulling our way up whichever riser was necessary. It was an uncomfortable exercise, but it was a good workout. Those students identified by the black-hats as troublesome would spend a bit more time in the harness than others.

Then we did practice from the 34' towers. We were told that the height of 34' was scientifically proven to be the most difficult to jump from. Higher towers put the ground too far away to frighten those having to jump, lower towers put the ground too close to be frightening. We had to climb up the stairs, hook up to a harness, and when our turn came, we had to yell out our roster number to the black-hat sitting below. We then jumped, and were judged on our exit technique, or body position, that we correctly grabbed our reserve chute with our right hand on the handle, kept our chins tucked into our chest, counted off "1000, 2000, 3000, 4000", looked up to check out our chute, and, last of all, kept our eyes open the entire time. To pass, we had to do five consecutive jumps perfectly. If you did four in a row, and messed up on the fifth, you had to start over again.

I found the 34' tower to be difficult, and in the end, I made 18 jumps until getting five in a row. Some people could not do five in a row, no matter how long they tried. The worst example was a captain in the Marines, he could not do a single correct jump, he was terrified of the height. I have to give him credit for actually jumping out each and every time, but when he did he would sometimes cry out, though he tried to muffle it, or cover his eyes with his hands. As he was an officer, they gave him an extra day to qualify, but he simply couldn't do it, and his jump training ended.

Most people go to jump school because it has prestige among the different services. Jump school itself is not very difficult, but the act of actually jumping out of an airplane is. The black-hats and cadre were rough-and-tough men who loved to talk about how wonderful it was to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, how paratroopers were God's chosen, and got all the girls (by this time, there were no more females in our company). We didn't believe most of it, but as the training went on, we couldn't help but look forward to jump week. We were impatient to jump ourselves, to become paratroopers; God's chosen, and beloved by women or not.

Tower week ended, a full 20% of our company had dropped out of training. Jump week would begin on Monday.
 
Monday dawned wet and cold. The aircraft were sitting on the airfield with their engines turning. There were two planes, one C-130, and a C-141. We looked at the planes with a sense of wonder as we marched toward the airfield. One of our fellow soldiers saw the airplanes, and froze. He was pulled out of formation, and we later saw him in the harness shed. Once he saw the planes, he realized he wouldn't be able to jump. His training ended at the last step.

Our squads had been divided into sticks, and we went in sticks to the hanger to draw our parachutes. After drawing our chutes we had to run to the harness shed, not an easy task because the run was a race. I was running neck-and-neck with the lieutenant, and the black-hat screaming "private-Airborne, move your butt!", and then "Sir, you better not let the private-Airborne beat you!". But the lieutenant was about 5 feet tall, and the parachute weighed half as much as he did. I got to the shed first, he was dropped for pushups at the doorway.

We geared up in the harness shed, putting on our parachutes and reserves with extreme care. In accidents it is almost never the parachute which was the cause, but mistakes in putting on the harness or static line. Once our parachutes were finally strapped on, we sat on tables, and waited. The harness shed is called a "shed", but it was enough for a company of soldiers, and in our case, impatient soldiers. The weather was terrible, rainy and windy, and we were praying that it would clear up. First, we wanted to jump, second, sitting on a table with a tightly strapped on parachute, reserve chute, and helmet is not comfortable. And we dare not scratch or touch our equipment in any way, otherwise it would be put on again, this time by the instructors, who would tighten the straps until you could barely walk or breathe.

After a couple of hours the planes shut down their engines, and we took off our chutes. No jumps for us that day. The next day jumps were cancelled as well, though of course we went to the trouble of drawing chutes, racing back to the harness shed, and waiting for hours in complete discomfort.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny, and there was no doubt that we would be able to jump today. We were all smiles and cheers. We went through drawing the chutes, racing the harness shed, and gearing up with pleasure. We could smell the exhaust coming from the airplanes as we sat upon our tables. As luck would have it, ours was the very last stick, so we resigned ourselves to being the last ones to jump.

The First Sergeant called out the first stick, but to our delight, he went down the list in reverse, we would be the first to board. We hopped off the table with giddy smiles on our faces, while the other sticks looked at us with frowns and envy. We left the harness shed feeling on top of the world, and walked up behind the our plane, the C1-30, with all four engines turning. We walked up the open ramp, and sat down on the webbed nylon "seats". We high-fived each other, and waited for the plane to fill up.

With the all-clear given, and everyone properly geared up, loading the aircraft and getting them off the ground went smoothly and quickly. We were all smiles until the plane left the ground. At that moment we realized that it was real, we weren't jumping from platforms or 10 meter towers, we were jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, flying 1000 feet in the air. The plane was noisy, and became noisier still when the heater was turned on. The flight to the drop zone was short, and the doors were opened immediately. The change in pressure, and the rush of cold air caused a quick fog in the cabin, which was quickly sucked outside.

Since ours was the first stick on the plane, we would be the last ones out. We would jump on the third pass. I was hit with airsickness, the flight was not smooth, I was as nervous as I had ever been in my life, and would have to jump soon. We received the directions from the jump master, who happened to the black-hat from my squad. I was standing a few spots back in our stick, he saw the roster number on my helmet, which, unlike the other solders, ended with an "A". He called out "private-airborne *****, do you want to stand in the door?". "Not Clear Sergeant Airborne!" I yelled back. He unhooked my static line, brought me to the front, and then hooked it up again. "Stand back sir!" he said to the short lieutenant, "You shouldn't have let him outrun you!"

The jump master stuck his out the open door, pulled it back in, and cried "one minute!", which we repeated, calling out over our shoulders. Then he cried "thirty seconds", which we also repeated. Then he told me "Stand in the door!". I moved up, put the toes of my right boot over the edge, put my hands on the sides of the door, and looked out at the horizon. I could see a highway, some buildings, lots of trees, and a few farms in the distance. I dared not look down. Next to my hand was the red light. It flashed to green, I felt a slap on by backside, and the jump master yelling "go! go! go!". I leaped out as I had been trained, tucking in my chin, grabbing my reserve, and keeping my eyes open. I could see the plane pass over my shoulder, the lieutenant jumping out, and then another soldier behind him, then my parachute opened violently. One of the risers rubbed across the back of my neck as it pulled tight, nearly knocking my helmet off. But I was out, my chute was open, and I was descending smoothly.

The only pleasant part of a parachute jump (to me, anyway) is that short time between jumping from the plane, and hitting the ground. Pity it was so short. I could hear black-hats on the ground screaming helpful instructions through loudspeakers "hey, yeah you, feet and knees together!". I tried climbing up the riser to change my direction, and found that it worked, I could change the direction of my descent. But I didn't have time to try anything else, the ground was coming up fast. I set up for my PLF, and hit the ground without getting hurt. Once on the ground I vomited uncontrollably. Better there than on the plane, I thought, not knowing that it was not the last time I would throw up that day, and that I would in fact throw up on the C-141.

We did three jumps that first day, including our night jump. I had terrible airsickness, not helped by the lunch, which was MRE's. On the side of the box I saw the words "not for pre-flight consumption". To this day I cannot eat corned beef hash, even reading the words make me remember how sick I felt. The bus ride back to the airfield was almost as sickening as the flight. Were it not for the airsickness, the experience might have been better.

The next day we had our two final jumps. After our last jump, our wings were pinned onto us in the field. As we had missed two days due to bad weather, there was no time for a graduation ceremony. On the last jump, I took a maroon beret with a 1st of the 507th flash attached to it, I kept it in my cargo pocket. After the jump and the bus ride back to the airfield, I put on the beret. Those of us who had completed our jumps relaxed behind the harness shed, sharing our first jump stories. The shed still had a number of soldiers waiting for their last jumps. From time to time, one would run by on his way to the latrine. For the fun of it, I would drop these guys for pushups. Since the guy yelling at them was wearing jump wings and a beret, they obeyed. The First Sergeant walked among us, and saw my beret. He said "hey private-Airborne, why the hell you wearing that pizza hat?", but didn't tell me to take it off. After completing 5 jumps, we were Airborne, not dirty rotten "legs".

The next day was Friday, and the mad rush of soldiers, Marines, Air-Force para-rescuers, and Navy Seals all headed to their buses or flights. The barracks emptied out again, though there were still a lot of people who would spend another weekend there.

Those of us of use left behind were mostly for the Rangers, who would be picking us up bright and early on Monday morning. To my surprise, there were about 150 of us.
 
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I flew in C-130's and C-141's and can't imagine what it would be like to jump from a 141. A couple of times I stood at the open door of a plane and cringed at the idea of diving out - hard to believe that it's become a pastime now days.

These posts are great reading. Thanks.
 
I flew in C-130's and C-141's and can't imagine what it would be like to jump from a 141. A couple of times I stood at the open door of a plane and cringed at the idea of diving out - hard to believe that it's become a pastime now days.
I didn't like jumping out of the C-141 as it flew faster than the C-130. When the doors are opened, wind deflectors are pushed out to cushion the blast, and decrease the strong vacuum at the doors. When you jump from a C-141, you stand back a small distance from the door, as you jump the vacuum will grab you and pull you the rest of the way out.

One of our guys was standing at the door of the plane as we came up to the drop zone. The ride was rough, the plane bounced, and he slipped and fell on his rear. His feet went out the door, the vacuum grabbed them, and he was pulled out the rest of the way. The jump master looked out after he was sucked out, gave a thumbs up, and we all jumped out as well. The guy who was sucked out landed safely.

When you standing on the ground and watching jumps from the C-141, you can see a puff of dust blown from the uniform of each soldier as he hits the wind.

The easiest aircraft to jump from is a helicopter.
 
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On Monday we were picked up bright and early by our RI's. The RI's were sergeants, wearing black berets (which only Rangers wore at the time), jump wings, Ranger scrolls and Ranger tabs on their uniforms. A couple wore scrolls on their right shoulders, showing that they were combat veterans. The RI's were not as intimidating at Drill Sergeants, we all had developed a fear and respect for anyone wearing "the round brown" (campaign hat). But a RI is not someone to mess with. They teach by example, not direction. In every run, they would be at the front, with every pushup, they would be doing them with you as they counted them off. Anything we could do, they could do better. A Drill Sergeant is a highly motivated professional who turns boys into men, an RI is a partially insane sadist-masochist who turns men into Rangers.

A sergeant-first-class stood on a platform and yelled "I want two copies of your orders, and your dog tags with no silencers, tape, or cord on them, you have 30 seconds, move!" I knew they would ask this after watching the previous class leave, and had spread the word, so most of us had our orders and dog tags ready. But as is usual, not everyone got the word, and a few who did, but didn't take it seriously. As a result, we were dropped for pushups several times. Some of the faces of our fellow trainees turned bright red, as though they were almost ready to cry, which encouraged the sergeants to make us do even more pushups. We were then told that we weren't doing pushups correctly. Rangers did not put their feet on the ground when doing pushups, they put them on something higher up; on a tree, bench, wall, or in the hands of someone standing nearby. In jump school the term for pushups was "beat your face", in the Rangers it was "elevate your feet". Every one of use had to put our feet up on the side of the building at waist level, and do pushups from that position. Instead of the 10 pushups we were limited to for "remedial" PT in the past, we did 27. 25 pushups for ourselves, one for the regiment (or battalion, depending on where you were), and one for the Ranger in the sky.

Then a first sergeant took the platform and told us what lay ahead of us. We would go through something called the Ranger Indoctrination Program (well-known already to us as R.I.P.) He told us the training would be hell, that most of us would quit, and those who did make it would only go through more hell later on. He then asked if anyone wanted to quit. To our surprise, two men fell out. The first sergeant thanked them for not wasting his time.

To be fair to many of those who quit, most were not Infantrymen. Many were trained as supply specialists, legal specialists, armorers, a cook, and a few medics like myself. In training we were told that we were not going to be Rangers, we were simply being assigned to a Ranger unit, and, if we were lucky, we would get a chance to go to Ranger school. This was untrue. Every person, no matter what their MOS, had to to through RIP. After RIP you become part of a Ranger battalion, and while you were doing whatever it was you were doing, you went through what was called "pre-Ranger" training to prepare for Ranger school. RIP, though it was only 3 weeks, was tougher than Ranger school, and had a higher attrition rate. The cook made it through.

Our first day of PT gave us a glimpse of what lay ahead of us. We fell out in the morning in December cold, ours would be the last class before the holiday break. We went out for our run, and I was stupid enough to volunteer as a road guard. The run was insanely fast after jump school and my laid back AIT. I could not get ahead of the formation to block the roads, so my light and vest were handed to someone else. We ran to cardiac hill by the air field, passing other formations from various units running in different directions. We were ran up and down the hill until some of us started vomiting alongside the road. The formation then ran in a large circle at the bottom of the hill, giving the stragglers a chance to catch up. Then we had to find our Ranger buddy (bunk buddy), and carry him to the top of the hill on our shoulders at a run. Then our Ranger buddy had to carry us up as well. In my case, my Ranger buddy was over 6', and outweighed me by 50 pounds, so we cheated a little bit by trading places a couple times on the way up. That was considered "teamwork", so it was overlooked.

As we were going up, a mixed battalion run from another unit ran down the hill. When we finished our fireman's carry, we ran back down the hill and joined the others who were running in a large circle waiting for us. To my surprise I saw a pony tail among our runners, and our PT instructor saw it to. An unfortunate young lady had accidentally gotten mixed up in our company as hers ran around it.

The RI screamed at her "What are you doing in my formation?" I didn't hear her reply. The RI screamed again; do you want to be a Ranger?". I heard her yell back "No Sergeant!". Our sergeant went through the roof. "What do you mean you don't want to be a Ranger!" He added "Today you're gonna be a Ranger!", and with that he ran our company up and down the hill a couple more times with her included.

When we got back to the bottom, he pulled her out and sent her on her way. At least we had got to enjoy a little entertainment to take our attention off our PT. and a moment to catch our breaths. We were run to the top of the hill once more, where we did grass drills on frozen grass (which quickly turned to cold mud) and then ran back to the company area where we would do PT. Along the way we passed by the unfortunate young woman, who was running wearily along.

At the company area the RI was on the platform, and said "Since it's y'all's first day, I'm gonna take it easy on ya!". "We're only gonna do 16 pushups today, you think y'all can do 16 pushups?" He got us in the front leaning rest, and began with "one!", then "one, two", then "one, two, three". We did this until we got to 16, and then from 16, we had to go back down to one. When we got to three, we had to do our pushups with one arm. 16 pushups actually meant 272 pushups. By that time were was no one other than the instructor himself who was still actually doing pushups, the rest of us were grunting, sweating, and moving in every way except in the correct pushup form.

The rest of the day I won't write about, other than to say that it was the toughest day of work I had ever done in my life, and worse days were to come. I thought that I had bitten off far more than I could chew, and that there was no way I would be able to get through two and half more weeks of this crap. I very much wanted to quit, and I looked for chances to do so.

But one thing kept me going, and that was to avoid the shame of quitting in front of my friends. They thought of me as a good soldier, and when things got tough for me, they helped. These were guys I helped square away in jump school, and they returned the favor. On the last day had a couple of them not more-or-less carried me for a short distance on the road march, I would not have made it. The final road march was 12 miles, with a 50 pound load, and a three hour time limit. Fully half of what remained of our class failed to finish in time, and did not graduate.

An interesting thing about our training was that we had a few leg Rangers in our company. These were Infantrymen who had gone to the 8 week Ranger school in the past, and were now going to join one of the Ranger units. Though they had Ranger tabs, they could not be attached to a Ranger unit without passing RIP. These men were all NCO's who thought they were better than anyone else, and because of their tabs and age, they were assigned as student leaders. We didn't care very much for them, and didn't shed any tears after they all fell out.

We started with 150 men, on the last day only 42 remained.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

BigFoot

It was a Stratocaster with a whammy bar!
Moderator
OK there are two Moderators working on this. I know you y'all want it realistic but the language has got to go. I think it is a worthwhile read so we cleaned it up.

Any more infractions and the entire thread goes bye bye.

Thanks guys
 
I am completely missing the point here. Why is he writing this? Why are you reading it? Swearwords are the least of this thread's problems...
 
I am completely missing the point here. Why is he writing this? Why are you reading it? Swearwords are the least of this thread's problems...
The OP wrote it I suspect as a bit of a diary and also to let us know what it was like going through that training. Why are we reading it? It's pretty darn interesting is why. The swearing was removed as per our ToS and rules, written or otherwise, of trying to behave like gentlemen.
 
Thanks for the cleanup, which detracted from an otherwise interesting chronicle of a soldier's journey to becoming an Airborne Ranger. Though in the Navy, I met a number of Rangers when I took up sport parachuting for fun for several months. Rangers are a breed apart, and we are lucky to have soldiers that aspire to jump.
 
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