I was an older Recruit (at 24) back in 2004 when I went to Knox for OSUT to become a 19K Armor Crewman. I was a PFC that was stuck there for 16 weeks. While the OSUT Program had four phases (Red, White, Black, & Blue), my Drill Sergeants, DS C & DS W, must have been colorblind. Because our level of privileges stayed the same…not jack sh*t.
However, we did get a family day weekend. Me and five other soldiers decided to take our family day pass together, since our families couldn’t come to get us. The one guy in the group had his 19 year old wife sign all five of us out (Yeah, I know…it sounds like a porn plot…).
So before we left that Friday afternoon, we were given these orders:
1) No Civilian Clothes
2) No Drinking
3) No Smoking
4) No illegal drugs
5) No traveling greater than 75 Miles from post
6) No unprotected sex and
7) No operating POVs.
The adventure Begins…
We get there, and the guy confesses that his wife didn’t have a license. Okay, problem. Wait. Enterprise is a PUBLICLY traded company. It’s not a POV. Sort of against the rules, but it fits well enough. So we get the truck and head to Louisville for the weekend. I’m in the front right seat and doze off. I wake up hearing “Where the f*ck are we?” Dipsh*ts drove us into Illinois, almost into Indianapolis. So we stop, I take their picture a sign saying how far Indianapolis was (not that far), we turn around, and head to Louisville. We check into the hotel.
While I’m getting out of my BDUs, the guys decided to go buy civilian clothes, cigarettes, and beer. When I saw it, I said, “We can’t do this. If we go out and y’all get caught, we’ll all get court-martialed. If you’re going to do it, you do it tonight, stay in the hotel room, and drink plenty of water Saturday and Sunday.” So we threw a party at the hotel. Which was freaking awesome. I was the only guy walking around though in PTs.
At the time, I didn’t smoke and I can’t handle alcohol. We had half the hotel in our wing of the hotel. And of course, people are taking photos with those damned disposable cameras. So Saturday and Sunday, we went sight-seeing, saw a movie, etc. Typical tourist sh*t. On Sunday evening, the local UPS center shipped all of our shit we’d bought home. That way, no evidence of our deeds. We drove to Knox and reported end.
Flash forward three weeks later. The drill sergeant is checking our mail. One of the guy’s mother developed the photos and sent them to him. Drill Sergeant went ape-sh*t. So they actually went through the trouble of “investigating” that weekend. Anyone seen doing anything against orders had charges drawn up. Except me. Because I’m camera shy, the few photos that had me in it were from the party, wearing PTs, drinking a Dr. Pepper.
The CO asked the Drill Sergeant why I wasn’t charged. DS C. told him it was because my Battle Buddies said I hadn’t broken any of the rules. The CO asked, “Did he report it to you when he got back?” “No, Sir.” “Then Charge him.” So the DS explained it all to me. The CO decided to make an example out of us, so we were notified that the entire Company would be there for the Article 15, Company Grade.
Two days before, the DS escorted me to the CO’s office, where the CO told me that I was looking at a serious charge. He goes, “It says here that you couldn’t recall exactly who did what. You know, if you were to admit that you did know something, the charges against you could go completely away.” The DS was with me in the office. I told the CO, “Sir, I also understand that perjury is a much more serious offense. And if you wanted, the charges could get dismissed anyways. I stand with my Battles, Sir.”.
The CO dismissed me and I was heading back to the barracks with DS W. Out of nowhere, he goes, “What you just did in there wasn’t very smart for your military career. But you know what? F*ck ’em. You did the right thing. Stick with your Battles. Just know when to speak up when they’re in the wrong.”
The morning of the Article 15 procedure, DS C. told me that my charges had been dropped. He and DS W. had gone to bat for me. That was one of the hardest things I had to do that day though was stand in the formation and watch the other four guys lose 1 grade in rank, and half a month’s pay. What they did was wrong. And repercussions do happen. Still, the whole thing just felt like it was blown out of proportion.