Postcards from Tradocia

poser city

There’s a guy working at one of the local video game shops who apparently belongs to the US Army. I don’t know this because of any super-secret soldier-sense or anything (though military types can be easy to spot) – rather, he volunteered the information when I was making a purchase. He spotted my military ID in my wallet, and asked me about my service. I said I was a 25Q in the MN Guard; he shook my hand and responded that he was an “11-bullet sponge.” (That would be infantry, since 11B is their MOS designator.)

Aside from his geeky nature and sweaty-palmed handshake, I didn’t have much immediate reason to doubt his story. Maybe he had looked tougher in his youth and was now a crusty old E-7 or E-8, just waiting to put in his 20 years. Lord knows there are plenty of sweaty-palmed weirdos in the Army, so one more didn’t exactly raise a red flag.

Recently I visited the store again and there he was, behind the counter. In typical invisible man fashion, he didn’t acknowledge my entrance and even if he did, I doubt that he would’ve recognized me. Besides, he was busy with another customer. As I browsed around, I listened to his conversation to the customer, a mom with two young boys. He was engaging in some typical “I’m trying to endear myself to your kids but I’m a helpless dork” banter, which is where my ears perked up.

“I have a card that says I get to be mean,” he said, deadpan. The mom laughed nervously, as in, “I hope I get out of here before this guy molests my children, ha ha.”

“No, really,” he continued. “I’m a sergeant.” With that he whipped out his wallet, showing it to the kid. Presumably he was flashing his military ID card – because I’m sure 8 year old kids are impressed by credentials (and can authenticate them as well). “See? And – I apologize in advance [better just hang that saying on the front door, buddy] – I can do…this.” With that he leaned over the counter and uttered some kind of half-assed battle cry, evidently intended to shock the child with his awesome warrior spirit. The mom laughed (“ha ha, WHAT THE FUCK?!”) and the kid just stared blankly.

The mom commented that she knew another sergeant who was in Iraq right now. His response: “Been there, done that! In fact, I’m getting ready to go back.”

Keep in mind that this guy looked disturbingly like Napoleon’s brother Kip (“I’m training to be a cage fighter.”) Maybe I was wrong – maybe this guy really was some high-speed 11B and I was misjudging him due to his extremely clever cover as a bespectacled buffoon hocking Playstation games – but the guy just didn’t seem right. Not only was his appearance wrong, but if he was an 11B he must be Guard (no Army Reserve infantrymen exist, except in Hawaii) and unless he volunteered as a filler for 1/34 BCT (currently in Iraq), there aren’t (to my knowledge) any major units mobilizing right now.

At that point I was seriously considering going over there to bust this guy out – nobody pimps themselves out this hard to strangers (at a videogame store, no less). Infantrymen may not always be the brightest bulbs on the tree (as we say in the Signal Corps, “it’s all about the line scores”), but they tend to have more self-respect than this guy seemed to possess. I wanted so badly to walk up and say, “Hey sergeant…what’s your MOS? 11B? That’s cool…so what unit are you getting ready to deploy with? Who’s your company commander? What’s the maximum effective range of an M16A2 rifle against a point target?” Et cetera…

I didn’t, however – though it’ll be interesting to see if he’s still working there in, say, six months. “How’d that Iraq deployment go, sarge?”


  1. The Pontiff

    Is the answer 450m, Sergean Barnes? If I’m wrong its because I’ve been out for too long…har har!

  2. Boylan

    600M but who cares, if your firing at them from 600M your probably not in iraq. Point aim, squeeze, no time for proper site picture when your in the shit.

    Loved the story on the video dork, I’m sure he’s here, and I’m sure I’ve met him. You have no idea how lucky you were to be deployed with Bravo Company.

    See you in a few months.

  3. NOTR

    Ease up on the grunts man! I am sure he is in deep cover after having completed Ranger School, Pathfinder, and of course Green Beanie Qualification.

    Lets face it … this is classic wannabe behavior, or maybe he was a 63C or something. Call your local recruiting office and tell em’ you have a hot prospect for em’ … then lets see if he lets out with a loud and thunderous Hooah!

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