They couldn’t all be from there, could they?

They all came together for a common purpose, and that purpose was Basic Training. All shapes, sizes, beliefs, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds converged on San Antonio that night. The first night of Basic Training was as confusing for the recruits as it was for the Training Instructors or TIs as they were referred to. Of course, the TIs knew what would happen when, but the recruits were just shuffling along and obeying orders barked at them by these mean-looking men in wide-brimmed hats.  

As the TIs shouted out commands and expected immediate obedience and responses, they were sizing up the recruits. With four rows of recruits standing at various interpretations of attention, the TIs instructed the recruits on what they could expect, when they could expect it to be done, and how long they might have to do it. It was organized chaos that was the U.S. military.

“What’s your name and where you from?” Sgt. Dillon shouted at the first recruit in the first row.

The recruit flinched at the TI shouting only inches from his face.

“Darian Michaels, sir, and I’m from Altoona,” the first recruit said.

“Well, Darian Michaels from Altoona, your name from now on for the next six weeks is Airman Michaels, is that understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And where prey tell is this Altoona of yours?”

“Pennsylvania, sir.”

“Pennsylvania. Is that right? And what is this Altoona Pennsylvania known for? Never heard of it,” Sgt. Dillon asked.

“Uh, uh, uh, home of the country’s oldest roller coaster, sir.”

Several of the other recruits snickered.

“Is something funny about that?” the TI asked.

Nobody responded

Sgt. Dillon took two steps to the next recruit.

“Name and where you’re from.”

“Rodney Adams, and I’m from Altoona, sir.”

“You two know each other before you came here, Airman Adams?”

Adams moved his head slightly and looked at Michaels.

“No sir, can’t say that I’ve met him before.”

“Answers short, Airman Adams,” Sgt. Dillon said. “Yes sir. No sir is all you need.”

“Yes sir,” said Adams.

And so it was the same with Airmen Norton, Caswell, Bassente, Wheeler, and Hockenberry. All were from Altoona and had been on that roller coaster.

“And you, name and location?” Sgt. Dillon asked the next recruit. “You from Altoona too?”

“M’name’s William Yancey, sir, and yes I’m from Altoona, but…”

Sgt. Dillon squared himself in front of Yancey. Their noses were no more than an inch apart.

“Yes, but what, Airman Yancey?” asked Sgt. Dillon.

Yancey cleared his throat and said, “Yes sir, I’m from Altoona, but it’s Altoona Iowa, sir. And I’ve never been on a roller coaster in my life.”



  1. Thanks. I was putting the finishing touches to a story today that actually made me laugh in a restaurant. Can’t wait to publish it in a few weeks.

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