Welcome to the jungle
We got fun 'n' games
We got everything you want
Honey we know the names
--Welcome to the Jungle, Guns N' Roses
--Hey man, are you in the Army?
--No, man, I just have short hair
--Bottle Rocket (1996)
Forty-three years ago a fledgling wanna-be Ranger failed a leadership training course. This still chews on my mind. It is so minor, one wonders why such minutiae stick in the gears. Absolutely meaningless, except, not exactly.
The exercise was to gauge the leader's reaction to this situation: The friendlies were in defense and dug in, while outside the OP a voice was yelling and begging for help in English, and claiming to be a wounded U.S. soldier.
Ranger knew the school solution -- ignore the calls for help because our enemies commonly played such tricks to sucker troops out into a kill zone. Sometimes, but not always. Anyway, as a young troop Ranger-to-be was unable to execute an answer that just might be wrong. To him, the U.S. Army was teaching an ethical wrong.
We talk about never leaving anyone behind, but the school solution dictated otherwise. Ranger failed then, and would still fail today. There are other unrelated remembrances that nag the memory:
- "Charlie Rules the Night": This phrase ruled in the Army at Ft. Benning in the late 1960's, but the statement alone indicated that the war in the Republic of Vietnam was lost, if one stopped to think about it.
- Deep knee bends, squats and duck-walking that destroyed knees, creating life-long injuries
- Water discipline training
- Cooking with squad stoves using leaded gasoline as fuel
- Heating foxholes with heat tabs, putting a poncho over that to seal the hole, then breathing the fumes
- Cooking in lead-painted ammo cans
- Using arsenic-treated ammo packaging wood to build fires and heat rations
- Drinking water and eating fish from the mountain streams of Dahlonega while in Ranger school. Those waters are still contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals due to gold mining activities.
Ranger knew the correct answer, but it wasn't the right answer.