George Worthy
George Worthy

I want to take a moment of your time to tell you how much I have enjoyed writing of my life and my thoughts. I guess there are many reasons a person would do this. I was not sure if anyone would care about what I have written. As it was I have had to overcome some of my thoughts of inadequacies. When I look back at how I have made it until this time of my life, I wondered if anyone would care.

That’s where being married to the finest wife a man could ask for comes in handy. I have sat in front of the computer screen and scratched my head wanting to peck out a story that you might find worth spending your time to read. My love would just smile at me and remind me that it is my life and travels that I am remembering, and if she could find it worth spending her time reading my prose then someone else would surely enjoy some of the crazy things that have happened to me.

Last week I wrote about becoming an officer in the U.S. Army. That was probably the most difficult phase of my travels. For six months you are running everywhere you go. You are assigned to a room to share with another candidate. You cannot remove your boots inside the building, yet you can’t walk on the floor with boots on. So you learn to use all the furniture to climb across to the one desk that you are allowed. The only time you are on the floor is when you are on your hands and knees using a diaper and Johnson’s wax to buff the floor to a sheen in which you can see your face.

After Lorraine and I were married and living on our own, she was shocked one day when she walked in and I was polishing the floor on my hands and knees. She had never seen a man get on the floor to clean except her father. Eric was the owner of a cleaning business so he understood that to get the dirt that hides from most cleaners you have to get down on your hands and knees.

Then, the Tactical Officer, who is a person that controls your future for the six months that you are training, will come in and grind their boots across the floor just so they can see how you take it. They are pushing you to crack every moment of being awake.

For the six months you are attending classes and learning about leading men into battle, you are responsible to one man; the Tactical Officer that watches over your every movement and grades. Yes, you are attending school and yet you run everywhere you go. Except during classroom attendance, during classes you are allowed to go to the latrine and then you stand at attention while outside the class. 

Forget about even smiling at anyone. All these quirks are taken for granted as you grow and are learning what leadership is all about. You learn about ethics and are tested every moment you are awake. From the moment you arrive at Fort “Benning School for Boys,” in order to become a leader of men, you are presented with certain rules and requirements. Some are stressed more than others, but there is one you learn from the first day: “Do not lie, do not cheat and never suffer any of those who do.”

After the first 12 weeks you begin to work for your time off. The floors are polished with a renewed vigor and your boots look like they were painted black. After all, you work very hard all week so that you can visit with your wife, if you are married, in the parking lot for a few hours. I found this to be capricious as I wasn’t married. Oh yes! You are also encouraged to stop smoking if you smoked when you arrived. I had quit smoking when cigarettes went to 35 cents a pack, so I just stayed in the barracks and studied how to fire a mortar. Lots of mathematical computation to hit a target you can’t even see.

When graduation time came along, there were more ways to help yourself to get assigned to the unit you hoped for when you graduate. You could practice the requirements for the physical test, which is five different phases of physical expertise. To pass the entire test you need to run a mile in six minutes in combat boots, throw a grenade, accurately 25 meters, grasp an overhead monkey bar for 50 meters and drag a soldier 40 meters. 

While writing this essay I looked up the requirements for a soldier wishing to become an officer. I won’t repeat these new requirements because I never had to do them while I was in the Army. I’ll admit they seem a little more difficult today than they did when I took the test. I maxed the requirement then, but I’m not sure you could depend upon me to save you with the tests today.

Suffice to say I passed the tests then and even got high enough scores on the academic requirements that I had a choice of my next duty station. I chose Special Forces as my next adventure. I felt that I would look good with the green beret that SF soldiers wore at that time.

In closing I would like to clear up what it is like to be a Special Forces soldier. The primary mission of a Special Forces soldier is to teach and organize the local populace. In order for them to be able to perform their duties they have to be trained in many faucets of warfare. In an “A” Team, you have two soldiers for each combat arm. You are expected to teach your expertise to the local populace after you have parachuted into the battle zone.

That is the basic difference between a Ranger, who fights in small units, and SF, who teaches locals to shoot, move and communicate.

Doggone words have run out. Looks like I’ll have to finish next week.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


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