Let me tell you a story…a story of NCOs and drill sergeants and the Fort Benning PX…a mystical tale of mirth and tragic irony.

As you may or may not know, Benning is a basic training post. Therefore, the place is crawling with drill sergeants – and tough ones, since this is the home of the infantry. Regardless of your status, a drill sergeant will have no hesitation in squaring you away if he detects any deficiencies about your person.

We were at the PX this evening, looking at computer games. SGT B, SPC H, SPC S and I were standing there, gawking at shit, when a stocky bald-headed guy in a PT uniform strode up. He was wearing the blue reflective vest worn by drill sergeants in PTs; across the chest was “DS His-name-here.” On his rippling bicep was a tatoo of the Army’s physical fitness patch – awarded to those who score 90% or better on the physical fitness test.

He looks at SGT B, whose sunglasses are stowed atop his head, nestled in his ridiculous mess of gray hair, and says, “You better take those sunglasses off your head – it’s not part of the uniform.”

SGT B just looked at the DS like he was crazy. The DS responded, obviously not wanting to take any shit from this longhaired dude, “If you have any questions about the uniform, feel free to ask. What’s your rank?” Sheepishly, SGT B says, “uh…E-5.” The drill sergeant: “I’m a staff sergeant [E-6], so don’t look at me like I’m on crack.” SGT B again, on the defensive, “Well, I didn’t know who you were, sir.” Annoyed, the DS points to his vest. “‘Drill Sergeant,’ ok?” Having flayed SGT B enough, the DS turned and walked off.

I’m sure this isn’t as funny to all of you as it is to us, but the irony is, of course, that this is one of the most ate-up soldiers (using the term loosely) in the unit – yet he always has the audacity to correct junior enlisted guys about various things – most of which he himself does wrong. Nobody wants to be that guy getting chewed by a drill sergeant, but for us, it’s a little slice of after-dinner poetic justice. Tasty.