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"
2) The Ghost
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
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
5) The Person Who Really, Really Doesn't Want to Be There
6) Mr./Ms. Perfect
7) The Chuckler
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).