“Visions of Vietnam”: Words of Encouragement

Jump School was equal measures of repetition and harassment, which started at the beginning of the day and ended only when our heads hit the pillow. Of course, the cadre (“black caps”) always found something wrong with our performance, thus requiring us to repeat it until each move became second nature. And when they did find fault, we endured some kind of physical punishment. During most training, a standard punishment was pushups. But, in Jump School, we couldn’t do pushups with a parachute on our back and a reserve chute in front, so we had to do deep knee bends. Everybody did their fair share of deep knee bends through the course of training.

Of course, it wasn’t so bad; to soften the blow, our instructors offered the following words of encouragement: “Private, did your parents have any children that lived?” “Private, if you’re looking for sympathy, you won’t find it here. You’ll find it in the dictionary somewhere between ‘shit’ and ‘syphilis’.” “Private, you look like a monkey fucking a football.” “Private, the best part of you ran down your father’s leg.” Now, who would need more inspiration than that?!

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