Saturday, August 19, 2006

Reveille Reminder

An early morning fishing trip with #1 son occasioned a discussion of the growing difficulty I have getting up early to go fishing. Frankly, if I don't have someone that I know will be waiting for me at the dock, more often than not I will turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. I love to fish, but the older I get the harder it gets to start my motivation motor first thing in the AM.

Our discussion reminded me of an OCS story that I shared with #1. The summer between my junior and senior year in college (or the close approximation Ole Miss is to a college), I spent 6 weeks at Quantico, Virginia, undergoing that prospective Marine officer rite of passage that is OCS. For 5 and 1/2 weeks the latest we were allowed to sleep was until 0500, and most mornings reveille went an hour or two earlier than that. By the time our last week of training arrived, we were pretty much asleep on our feet most of the time. Consequently, there are huge chunks of time from that experience that have no home in a wrinkle in the shriveled grey matter of my brain housing group.

I do remember, however, that the evening before one of our last days, our DI strode purposely into our platoon's open squadbay and announced, "Listen up, Candidates. Lights out at 2100; reveille at 0600." We remained at the position of attention while he about faced and marched out. As soon as the double doors at the end of the squad bay swung closed behind him, all 50 of us broke into a resoundingly joyful, "OOOORAH!!

The candidate whose bunk was next to mine and who stood next to me in every formation for six weeks, was a Texas A&M Aggie named Ned Hertberg. Unlike most of his unsufferably loud and obnoxious Aggie brethren, Ned was quiet, studious, and an easy guy to like. He rarely commented on any situation we were in, but his observation at this point is one I will likely never forget. He turned to me and said, "Never thought I'd cheer about getting up at six in the morning."

Ned was killed a few years later when the wing of the A-6 fighter bomber, on which he was the bombadier/navigator, came apart at the bottom of a bomb run over the California desert.
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