I think I have communicated that I am just a bit jealous of my two Marine sons. And how proud of them I am. They are in 'non-combat' MOS's, but they have been to cool schools that taught them various nasty tricks. And every Marine is a rifleman. My youngest Marine, when he got to Iraq, was handed an M240G machine gun, and told "Here, you're a door-gunner on a school bus ferrying troops and supplies."
Me? I never saw combat. But being Infantry, I trained every day for it. For years. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. First the beat us into steel, then they honed us, then they sharpened us to a razor's edge. And then they did it again. And again.
I became addicted to it. My (ex)wife and my little boys didn't see a whole lot of me in those days. I would leave the house at night, and run very far up to Infantry Hill, where they tended to keep most of us segregated from the pogues. I'd get to the obstacle course, and there would always be several of my fellow grunts there already, and we would run through the course, as fast as we could (while timing ourselves) and then do it again, and keep doing the cargo nets and the inclined walls and all of that other crap until we perfected our times, and became too exhausted to even reach up to scratch our noses.
And all of it done by starlight alone. And if it was foggy? Which it often was? In near zero visibility, with all of the obstacles sheened with slick moisture.
Our officers were useless. They only got themselves assigned to an elite unit to get Infantry Command on their resume. They came, and they went. It was our NCO's that were golden. Nearly all had been to Viet Nam, and knew what serious shit looked like.
Our Platoon Leader was an E-6 looking to make E-7. Nam vet, Ranger qualified, Airborne, Air Assault, etc., etc., etc.
Meanest spic I've ever known. He gave no quarter, and asked for none. We loved him. The dirtiest joke I ever heard was one he told. He could spot a loose helmet chin-strap in the back of a formation, and we cleaned our weapons twice so as to not incur his wrath. He was famous for having a hapless soldier clean every weapon in the arms room before getting released, all the while threatening them because they made him miss dinner, and telling them lurid stories about guys he had known in combat who had come to no good end because of a dirty weapon.
One time, because we had pissed him off for a big brawl we had gotten into with another company on Friday night, he came into the barracks early Saturday morning, went to our area (on the third floor) and went up and down our hall banging two garbage can lids together like cymbals, hollering for us to fall in.
We staggered out, rubbing our eyes, and he gave us our orders: We were to get into full BDU's, and then completely disassemble our rooms, take them outside to the parade deck of our building, and reassemble everything perfectly, in the same order according to squad, perfectly spaced, get it ready for his inspection, then the squad leaders were to report when they were done.
I forget how long he gave us, but it wasn't very much, and then he pulled out a stopwatch, and said "GO!" We went.
We failed the first inspection. We ran it all back upstairs and put it in our room. There was an inspection up there. Many gigs. So we ran it all back downstairs. Passed the inspection, ran it all back upstairs, passed that one, then went beck to the parade deck and fell into formation.
The captain finally showed up around noon, with an officer's club breakfast still likely on his breath, and gave us a rousing speech about how proud he was of us to have gone to the defense of one of our own the night before, pip pip, an all that. Our platoon sergeant obviously agreed with him. Sometimes you can just tell. You learn a lot about someone when you sleep with them.
Maybe I'll tell you some other stories sometime about how he used to take us at night out into the dark, and teach us things.
I'm tired of this, right now.