Friday, May 12, 2006

Army Enlists Autistic

Bet there was desperate recruiter involved : "Army releases autistic recruit from enlistment contract"

Back in the day, odd and uncommunicative individuals with expensive and rare skills could count on a different Basic Combat Training experience.

There was one in our company, an overweight fellow in a perma-wrinkled uniform, who was always squinting through thick glasses. He did not drill with us, or show up to formation with any of the platoons. Just as well, as he seemed oblivious and uncoordinated. He had a room to himself--an incredible luxury to the rest of us crammed into the platoon bays--and he used one of the latrines reserved for the training cadre.

His rank was private first class, not very high on the army pecking order, but certainly two steps above we trainees. Someone made the mistake of pointing him out to our drill sergeant and asked why such an unkempt individual deserved special treatment. The questioner's answer was an order to do 25 push ups immediately. Later, we found out, from the first sergeant's clerk, that this un-soldierly soldier was highly sought after for his cryptography skills. The clerk claimed that this person's room was even off limits for inspection by the first sergeant and senior drill sergeant, and that a drill sergeant swept it out weekly for him.

While all this might have been a ridiculous rumor, we personally saw him being driven by a drill sergeant to a rifle range where this near sighted soldier received personal marksmanship training. The rest had to run several miles in the rain. The company armorer claimed that this supposed genius was not trusted to check out his own weapon, and instead a drill sergeant, assigned to him personally, carried and loaded the rifle for him. In fact, this person took the same classes we did, but always one-on-one with an instructor and protectively flanked by his drill sergeant.

We never talked to this strange person to verify these tales, partially because he ate at his own table with his drill sergeant, and partially because we were told in no uncertain terms by our drill sergeant never ever to approach or speak to this mystery soldier.

When the rest of us took a physical training test as a group under the watchful eyes of drill sergeants, our buddy took his test alone alone with his drill sergeant. We assumed he passed.

When our training was finished, he did not graduate with the rest of the company and instead was whisked away that day to his new assignment. Even the first sergeant's clerk didn't know what happened to him.

1 comment:

Steve said...

There was also a program during the 60s in which the Army tried using less capable soldiers figuring like Falstaff in 'Henry IV part 1' that "Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder; they'll fill a pit as well as better...."

However, the overhead in extra supervision and such proved the idea to be wrong.

These poor fellows came to mind because they often had to be seperated from the other soldiers and given that extra handling and such.