I was part of University of Virginia’s Army ROTC for two years.
Summer of 96. They chose me as one of the four cadets to represent the mighty Cavalier Battalion at the U.S. Army Airborne School in Fort Benning, GA. I was bored of casual ROTC picnics and FIRED UP to see some real action.
We were to address the instructors as Sergeant Airborne. You wanna talk about elitism? These guys are the best. A trainee had his foot rested on a chair at the dining hall. One of the Sergeant Airborne dropped his sandwich, hopped over a few tables, got right up on the trainee’s face, and yelled, “Get your DIRTY NASTY LEG off my Airborne Furniture!”
As soon as we arrived at the jump school, we had a shake-down session. We were to form a single-file line, open our duffle bags, turn it upside down, and shake it until the entire content was strewn at our feet. Sergeant Airbornes were going around confiscating CD players, boobie magazines, and all other unauthorized personal belongings.
The guy standing next to me had a baseball glove. The scary-ass Sergeant Airborne stepped up to the point where the tip of his nose was touching the tip of the scrub’s nose. “Do you think this is a plaaaaay grouuuuund? Do you wanna plaaaaaay wif me?”
The scrub was shittin down his leg and I hurt my diaphragm trying not to laugh. What a silly nub. Who brings a baseball glove to the most prestigious jump school in the world?
The Sergeant Airborne was casually kicking through my belongings as if he was a zoo veterinarian inspecting elephant poo… and there it was... Herbal Essence Strawberry Shampoo. Neon red liquid gel contained in a clear 24-oz bottle. Apparently, my mom didn’t think regular ivory soap was good enough for her loving son’s freshly shaved head. She wanted to ensure my joyous moments of revitalization where ever I went.
The Sergeant Airborne picked up the bottle and started calling every other Sergeant Airbornes over to him. "Hey! Fields! Sullivan! Come here! You gotta check this out!”
It was really embarrassing and kinda hurtful.