Part 7: In between again

In between again: In which Tower Week is history and I ponder whether I left my sanity somewhere near the Swing Landing Trainer

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

After enlisting, a young soldier eagerly asked his recruiter what he could expect from jump school.
“Well,” the recruiter said, “it’s three weeks long.”
“What else?” the recruit asked.
“The first week they separate the men from the boys, and the second week, they separate the men from the fools.”
“And the third week?”
“The third week, the fools jump.”

The black hats ran us hard that Friday, and fast. If you stumbled, if you missed a step, if you panted, they were right there, ready to pounce. “You want to drop out, don’t you, leg.”

If you reached an arm back to encourage someone lagging behind, the black hats would snarl, “Better just look out for yourself. You fall out to help–you fall out. Period.” If, for a micro-second, you didn’t reach back to help, they’d say, “Your buddy’s in trouble. Where’s your unit cohesion? Hell, I wouldn’t want to go to war with you.”

And so on. Since it was a company run, the guidon bearer ran in front of the formation, mop hoisted high. We were still unworthy.

But it was Friday of Tower Week and we made it through. They could drop us for pushups and from the Swing Landing Trainer. It didn’t change a thing.

We made it through. We were moving on to Jump Week.

Oh yeah. That. Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door. Jump right out and count to four. The whole reason for the previous two weeks of torture.

But. There was a full weekend of being a social butterfly before I found myself flying–and jumping. There were motorcycle rides and the promised brunch at the Officers Club. With that, I was expecting something . . . more. Bigger, maybe? I don’t know if I’d heard the spread was awesome, or just assumed, with all those hungry infantrymen, that it would be. It wasn’t as grand as I expected. But considering I’d been eating lunch in “the hole” for the past two weeks, I couldn’t complain.

No one seemed surprised I’d made it through Tower Week. The younger lieutenants (some of them hadn’t been to Airborne School yet) peppered me with questions: Was I nervous? Was I scared? Was I excited? Tim, mister mature SF guy that he was, told me not to worry. Everything would be fine.

Everything would be, wouldn’t it? I tried not to think about the fact that on Monday, I’d take off in an airplane, but not land in one.

To be continued…

Part 8: Jump Week, Part 1

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