The 7 types of people you meet during military training

Which one were you?

The 7 types of people you meet during military training

U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Garry J. Welch/DVIDSHUB

By Paul D. Mooney

The varied branches of the United States military are all unique snowflakes in their own special ways, like a heavily armed kindergarten class.

From the different uniforms, to the broad missions each service considers their bailiwick, to the nonsensical, guttural grunts each proudly claim as their own. But whether you bellow "Ooh-rah," "Hoo-ah," "Hoo-yah," or "Huzzah for a golf course on every base!" (Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Force respectively), we all had to start somewhere. And that somewhere was training.

No matter the branch, rank, specialty or length of tour, all of us went through some form of grueling selection and education process before we could finally take our place in service of our country. And within the commonality of training, both basic and beyond, there are some other shared experiences across all the limbs of our armed forces. Suffering, hunger, hurt feelings, and the same types of irksome people are probably the most universally common. Let's delve into the specifics of that fourth category.

1) The "Expert"

Everybody who volunteers to serve undoubtedly does at least some research into what's in store. But only a special few show up thinking that reading a few dozen Wikipedia articles and watching "Full Metal Jacket" 15 times makes them authorities. These are the type of people who arrive at basic training able to quote manuals, spout jargon and acronyms with ease, and reference which specific high-speed units they assure you they'll be accepted to. Never mind that they can't tie their boots properly and cry when it's their turn to mop the head. They are self-proclaimed gurus of all things military with a spot on the wall already saved for their future Medal of Honor. With any luck, their spirits are broken quickly enough that they never utter the phrase "This is just like that time in Call of Duty..."

2) The Ghost

the guys you meet in basic training. the guys you meet in bootcamp. the ghost
"Nice to meet you. You new here?" (source)

There you are, standing proud during the graduation ceremony, having completed the life-changing crucible of basic training. All around you in formation are the noble men and women you've irreversibly bonded with during this ... who the hell is that next to me? Have they been here this whole time? Really? Slept on the bunk above me? Huh. Weird.

3) The Naive Guy

the guys you meet in basic training. the guys you meet in bootcamp. naive guy
"You mean New York City is actually a real place?" (source)

One of the great benefits of joining the military, in my opinion, is getting to meet people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and every part of America. Some of those people, however, were previously unaware that there were people from different walks of life and backgrounds. Or that there were other parts of America, with indoor plumbing. I definitely trained with a few guys who thought New York City was a make-believe place in the moving pictures and salsa commercials. When word got out that I was a liberal atheist with a Jewish grandpa, it was like they'd seen a mysterious, magical dragon with shimmering scales of pure gold and a particularly silly hat. With a Jewish grandpa.

4) The Pre-Salted

These are the guys or gals who have considered themselves in the military since they were clad in camouflage diapers and have read "With the Old Breed" so many times, they think it's referring to them. They are as crusty as any 1st Sgt from day one and they definitely let you know, frequently referring to people their own age as "kid" or "rookie" or "young whippersnapper." Sometimes they also fit into the "Experts" category, but they're often separate, equally insufferable nitwits. You can usually tell the difference because, while the "Experts" will emotionally refer to their Battlefield 4 campaigns when making a point, these folks tend to talk about guys who died in the Battle of the Bulge like they were the closest of friends.

5) The Person Who Really, Really Doesn't Want to Be There

One of the universally understood facial expressions shared by all humanity is the one that signifies "Oh my stars, I have made an incomprehensibly bad decision that has helped me understand the true meaning of regret." You'd be amazed at how long a person can continuously maintain that expression. Years, even.

6) Mr./Ms. Perfect

Nobody has a good time in basic training, other than the obviously insane and well-disguised robots attempting to infiltrate our armed forces so as to more easily defeat us when they rise up. But some people, manage to just breeze through it. They ace every fitness test without breaking a sweat, know the answer to every question screamed at them, are crack shots from birth, and are probably way better at watercolors and karaoke than you to boot. You'd hate their guts, if only they weren't so goddamn friendly and helpful. Ugh, they're the worst.

7) The Chuckler

the guys you meet in basic training. the guys you meet in bootcamp. the chuckler joker funny guy
They probably go on from the military to become regular humor writers on uniform-related websites. (source)

Every training unit always has at least one of these jerks. They're always trying to crack jokes and get in some sarcastic quip or other, no matter how inopportune the circumstances. They can't help but laugh when a particularly funny ass-chewing is being handed down, even if they're on the receiving end of it, which of course just incenses the chewer even more. They just can't help but be chuckling jerks and annoying the hell out of everybody around them. And sometimes, to make it even worse, they go on from the military to become regular humor writers on uniform-related websites. There's no escaping these cretins.

Bet you can't guess which one I was. I'll give you a hint: I was not Mr. Perfect. So keep guessing. For my fellow veterans out there, I hope it wasn't too painful when you realized that one of these describes you to a T. If any of you couldn't figure out which one of these you were, chances are it was whichever seemed most infuriating.

But don't sweat it; you're still a commendable patriot and we can grab a beer together over a hearty "Ooh-rah." Or, if you prefer, a rousing "Everybody constantly makes fun of us, yet we tend to have higher job satisfaction than all the other branches so they can suck it!" (Coast Guard).