Replacements

We had our first influx of soldiers arrive yesterday to bolster our failing forces.

Word spread through the headquarters, “New people are here!” “Wow, really? Where are they being assigned?”

Majors and captains vied for the new blood, throwing their administrative weight around, jockeying for claiming position as the new sergeants and privates made their way from station to station, in processing and being cajoled by the section heads.

My section major was late catching on to the scent of the new personnel. “What? New soldiers?” he asked one of our E7s.

“Yes sir, just came in today.”

“How many can we get in here?”

He always was looking for more slave labor. With himself, two captains, a lieutenant, two E7s, one E6, one E5 and one E4 (and then the attached finance, safety and PAO sections), his section was the largest in headquarters, yet there were never enough lower enlisted to load boxes, clean the office and the like.

Too bad for him, most of the new guys had already been claimed. He was just a few days from flying out on R&R leave and had taken to not showing up to work until the afternoon. This left him generally with little interest in the office goings on.

“I’ll work my magic. We need some more soldiers,” he said. Always a big talker, we’d have to see if he could pull anything off, not that I would suffer any of the medics or mechanics to be assigned to trash and filing duty in the personnel office.

An hour or two later, our roster remained unchanged. Too bad, good major, have fun on leave.

Several of the new soldiers stopped in to our office to see the finance sergeant. They were fresh faced and pretty chipper.

“Hey sergeant?” one asked me. I looked up. “How long have you guys been here?”

“Since September,” I answered.

He counted off some numbers in his head and turned to one of the other new soldiers, “So only six months left? Yes! See, dude. Short tour! Ha ha! Woohoo!”

Yeah, thanks! Ass.

Our brigade had been slowly bleeding off numbers due to pregnancy and a myriad of “medical” problems. Our greatest enemy wasn’t insurgents, but cowardice.

Most of the medical cases would end up back and Fort Hood, where they’d undergo a battery of tests and doctor appointments in an attempt to discern their problems. With none apparent, the soldiers would slip in and out of symptoms until their condition had exasperated diagnosis to such an extent, that we’d be on our way back to the states before they were finally cleared to return to duty. War averted.

Sure there were the honest medical problems, but seeing so many “uhh, my wrist hurts” cases, one tended to grow a little skeptical.

The S6 section was lucky enough to receive one of the new appointees.

“Wow, they lucked out,” I mentioned to my section sergeant. “Heck, they just got a captain the other day. Now they’re stacked.”

“The new guy was to replace their E7,” she mentioned.

“Replace? I just saw him the other day.”

“He had an ‘eye’ problem. He’s back in the states.”

E7s and E8s were famous in our unit for magically coming down with ailments, sending them home. Some used the opportunity to finish their retirements. They finally found out a way to get back at the Army for involuntarily extending them past their planned exit dates.

E5s and the like were just stuck. Not that I wanted to play the malingering card. It’d be nice to tell the grand kids I finished my time with honor, rather than wiggled and scammed my way through the system.

###

About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

One response to “Replacements”

  1. finch says :

    kep fightin the good fight bro…been there – seen it…hell spent legit time laying in the hospital trying not to die – but i never left that shit hole – nobody can ever question that…espescially the E-7s and what not that show up out here in safe non-drployable Korea and automatically sign up to stay for three years…i love looking at someone trying to tell me anything when they’ve got 15 years or so in service and have never been anywhere legit…it’s almost become a game…anyway – 6months dude – too easy!

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