By RU Rob
The mere mention of the word INSPECTION to any member of the military will automatically draw groans, moans, bitches, gripes and complaints. Inspections can be cumbersome, and a down right pain in the ass, but with the right opportunity and a little ingenuity they have the potential to be absolutely hilarious!
In post cold-war Berlin, and having no real mission in life, my infantry battalion continued to train as if the proverbial “balloon” were to go up, even though we knew we had no chance of ever seeing or even having any sort of real mission to support. Because of this we were mocked as the “Parade Brigade.” Subject to numerous parades and becoming experts in every form of inspection known to mankind, I honestly believe that because we had no wartime mission, our Brigade Commander believed that the next best thing we could do was to be the best dressed, have the cleanest equipment and be inspected…continuously.
We had just returned from a live-fire exercise at the Wildchicken, the coldest known training area known to mankind in Germany. And, because we were Infantry, this automatically triggered a TA-50 (personal equipment) inspection from our chain of command. Normally, this was conducted by the Company Commander and First Sergeant, but this time we drew the Battalion Commander and Command Sergeant Major to personally inspect our gear.
As every platoon does, our platoon had the “guy”, the guy who is overweight, an E-4 who thinks and bosses everyone around like he is an E-12 and is also the subject matter expert on… everything; our guy was Summers. To top it all off, SPC Summers was white as a ghost with freckles and bright red hair, and I am talking red on the noodle like a dick on a poodle.
The pre-inspection chaos started a few days before the brass came around and we had already been scrutinized countless times, laying out our gear according to the anally detailed diagrams that went so far as to give widths of each piece of clothing and equipment and ensuring that each soldiers layout looked EXACTLY the same, sans the one or two pieces he was missing. Tent poles and pegs were painted, overshoes were wiped down inside and out…you get the painstaking detail that was required.
The day of the inspection came and, at the last minute, we were instructed to take a 3×5 note card and write down any items that we were missing and place it at the foot of our sleeping bag. We were all decked out, spit-shined boots, starched BDUs, fresh haircuts, the works. SPC Summers was nervous as hell as he was actually going to get some face time with the CSM and he was bucking for a job as his driver. Just before the BC and CSM showed up, Summers took off to the latrine.
This was the opportune time to leverage a little revenge on the I-know-more-than-you-because-I-am-the-greatest-Specialist-ever Summers. Eight little characters quickly scribbled on his 3×5 card and the trap was set. The other two members of our mortar squad were the only other ones to know what was going on, all we needed now was a little luck.
The Battalion Commander and Sergeant Major showed up and started the inspection, because we were the Mortar Platoon, we were last and the suspense was killing me. Slowly, the inspection team made its way though the ranks and FINALLY started at our platoon. We were the 2nd squad and the anticipation was like playing hide-and-seek as a kid, just when you get the best hiding place ever…you’ve got to piss…bad… because you are so excited that no one is going to find you.
Our squad comes to attention and Summers, being the gunner, is first after the Squad Leader. The Battalion commander comes in front of him and immediately picks up his 3X5 card…oh my god…YES! A quizzical look falls across our Lieutenant Colonel’s face as he looks at Summers’ name tag and begins a dialogue that goes something like this…
LTC: “SPC Summers, what equipment are you missing?”
Summers: “Sir, I am missing one tent pole and one mitten liner.”
LTC: “Is that all?”
Summers: “YES SIR!”
LTC: “Sergeant Major, do you know what this means?” showing the card to the CSM still with the perplexed look.
CSM: With a small smirk, he immediately catches on; you can never slip one by the ole salty one, “Sir, why don’t you ask SPC Summers?”
LTC: “SPC Summers, it says here that you are missing ‘Balls 2 EA’, would you care to explain!”
Even though we are at attention and trying really, really hard to maintain some military bearing, a couple snickers slip out from the platoon. His face now as red as his hair, Summers is starting to sweat as he has no idea what is going on, but has a pretty good idea that he is about to be embarrassed, bad. SPC Summers is so flustered he can’t even muster any sort of intelligible answer.
CSM: Interjecting “Sir, I think that someone in the platoon is implying that SPC Summers is lacking testicular fortitude.”
LTC: Still confused “And what exactly does that mean Sergeant Major?”
CSM: “Quite frankly Sir, SPC Summers has no balls!”
The platoon has completely lost it, is now openly laughing and fully knowing that we are about to get the holy living shit smoked out of us.
LTC: Keeping a stone face, pausing for a second “Well SPC Summers, your equipment looks good, but I would work on replacing your missing items.”
Summers: Stammering, completely humiliated “YES SIR”
The Battalion Commander and Sergeant Major continue down the line without incident, but as the Sergeant Major stood in front of me, I could have swore that there was a little twinkle in his eye and a slight smile as if he was giving me a high five like he had done something just as mischievous as a young soldier himself.
My First Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, Squad Leader, NBC Sergeant, Training Room Sergeant, and every other position in the Company that somehow contained “Sergeant” in it smoked my squad for the remainder of the day, but that didn’t matter, Summers never did get the CSM driver job and for some strange and odd reason my platoon was told to stay away from anything that had to do with the Battalion Commander.