Note: I wrote this series on Airborne school in July 2006.
The other day, Marianne was talking about RWA National being held in Atlanta, Georgia, in July, followed by, of course, speculation on why anyone thought Georgia in July would be a good idea. Think: +2,000 women who would be, at some point, dressed to the nines during the week. Formal gowns, pantyhose, up-dos, and humidity. They really don’t mix.
But it had me waxing nostalgic about the one time I did spend most of July in Georgia. Not Atlanta, but Columbus, or more precisely, Fort Benning, Georgia.
BDUs and humidity. Now that mixes.
I was tongue in cheek, but I compared the two. Would I rather run the gauntlet of +2,000 romance/women’s fiction authors, agents, and editors, of lit signings, of nerve-wracking editor and agent appointments?
Or would I rather get up at four a.m. for physical training, have each and every sergeant airborne in a five-mile radius in my face, get dropped for pushups, get dropped from the “swing landing trainer,” and at the end of it all, get dropped from an airplane?
I would have to choose Airborne School.
I’m not entirely tongue-in-cheek at this point. Cuz let me tell you, there wasn’t any air conditioning in the Bachelor Officer Quarters. But I was trudging that direction–the furthest building from the housing department, of course–with my duffle bag over one shoulder and my garment bag over the other, and my key clutched tightly in my fist.
I was half way across the compound when two figures in green appeared on an intercept course with me. Next thing I knew, I was sandwiched between two Special Forces lieutenants. One took my duffel, the other my garment bag. I protested, since I had this thing about carrying my own weight.
Not surprisingly, they didn’t listen, gave me some line about how they were ambassadors of Fort Benning and couldn’t possibly let a visitor lug her stuff across the compound. Yeah, those SF guys; they’re smooth.
As it turned out, one had the room right next to mine. I didn’t believe it at first, but he pulled out his key and opened the door.
And thus, I was adopted by an Infantry Officer Basic Course platoon. Both the SF guys had recently received their commissions, but given their careers so far, they could’ve taught the course.
They had more experience doing things they couldn’t talk about in places where officially they weren’t supposed to be, that to find them at a basic infantry course of any kind was pretty funny. But according to the Army, if they wanted to be lieutenants, they had to take the course.
I suppose they were a somewhat mature, sedate influence over the fresh-from-college, like-my-new-buzz-cut, young stud lieutenants in the course. Somewhat.
So I was squired about Columbus, Georgia, by the whole platoon. I went to the nicest clubs, with my own personal bodyguard detachment, zipped all over Fort Benning on the back of a motorcycle. I wanted to see the tattoo parlors and strip clubs. Not go inside, mind you, just see one. This was Fort Benning, after all. Home of the Infantry and how the heck did that get there.
But, no, no, they wouldn’t let me do that. It’s quite possible I left the area without actually seeing one. If I did, it was by accident.
Oh, wait. This was supposed to be about Airborne School. I did that, too. While “my boys” were in the field during the week, I was learning how to jump out of airplanes. I dug up some pictures the other day, but it will take more time for me to put text around them, so I’ll talk about that later.
Blogging Airborne, the series:
- Part 1: I want to be an Airborne Ranger
- Part 2: Ground Week, Part 1
- Part 3: Ground Week, Part 2
- Part 4: Ground Week, Part 3
- Part 5: In between
- Part 6: Tower Week
- Part 7: In between again
- Part 8: Jump Week, Part 1
- Part 9: Jump Week, Part 2
- Part 10: Jump Week, Part 3
- Part 11: Jump Week, Part 4
- Part 12: Jump Week, Part 5
- Part 13: Graduation