Cold War Warrior, The Jake Michaels Story #15 Early Days
Cold Steel Charlie Moves In
Charlie Company was billeted in the “new” barracks in the Sand Hill area of Fort Benning. These barracks were three-story brick structures. The top two stories were raised, allowing room at ground level for the entire company to assemble in company formation outside but under cover.
First and Second Platoons bays were on the second level. Third and Fourth on the third. The portion of the first level not given over to the formation area were the offices of the Company Commander, Executive Officer, First Sergeant, and the clerical staff needed to run the company. There were also classrooms, meeting rooms, the armory, the supply room, and a break room for the cadre.
The Charlie Company barracks were one of four wings that made up the Third Battalion complex. Also included were the chow hall - officially known as the dining facility - and the offices of the Battalion Commander and his staff.
Each of the four training companies was at a different point in their training cycle. Charlie Company was just beginning theirs. Delta Company was starting their fifth week, Alpha Company their ninth week, and Bravo their thirteenth week.
Inside the platoon billet, the single bunks were lined up in four rows of twelve. Between the beds, set back to back, were the wall lockers in which the new soldiers would keep all their belongings, except the civilian clothes they’d brought with them. Those bags were collected and locked in a closet at the front of the bay, not to be seen again until after graduation.
Third Squad was, naturally, assigned to the third row of bunks. Before coming upstairs into the bay, each soldier received two sheets, a blanket, and a pillowcase. Staff Sergeant Morris ordered the men to leave their duffel bags and bedding on their bunks and reform in the company area.
“The sooner you get back downstairs, the sooner you get to chow,” Staff Sergeant Morris informed them.
He was right and wrong at the same time. First Platoon was the first to form up, but they didn’t get to leave for chow until the rest of the company joined the formation. Being first did have one advantage. Sergeant First Class Axelrod announced First Platoon would be the lead platoon and would get to eat first.
Talking at Double-Time
Jake was twenty-fourth in line to get dinner. Dinner consisted of a fried pork chop, green beans, creamed potatoes, and a roll.
“This looks like something my mom would have cooked for dinner,” Jake said to Pete Osterman.
“Silence in the chow line,” Corporal Kenk warned. “Unless you want to eat your dinner in the Front Leaning Rest.”
Pete looked at Jake wide-eyed and shook his head. Jake nodded to show he understood.
Staff Sergeant Morris had made it clear that talking in the chow hall was a privilege Charlie Company had not earned, yet. Until they did so anyone caught talking in the chow hall would eat their meal in the front leaning rest.
Reggie and Connor were already eating when Jake joined them. The Drill Sergeant had made them aware that they needed to eat on the double and then double-time back to the company area. Reggie had nearly cleaned his plate by the time Pete sat down.
Connor slowed down and timed finishing his meal with Jake. They left together. Double-timing back to the company area was the first chance they’d had to talk without anyone else around since discovering they might be long lost brothers back on the bus.
“You really think we could be twins, Jake?” Connor asked.
“What’s your blood type?” Jake replied.
“AB Positive,” Connor revealed a few steps later.
“Mine, too,” Jake confirmed. “That doesn’t prove anything, but it’s a rare blood type.”
“How can we find out for sure?” Connor asked. “I’d like to know if we’re twins. Wouldn’t you?”
“I sure would,” Jake agreed. “The first step, I guess, is to write to our parents and ask them what they know.”
They reached the company area and quit talking. Most of the members of First and Second Squad were already there, standing at ease on their designated footprints. Corporal Kenk was keeping a watchful eye over them.
When Jake and Connor arrived, Corporal Kenk waved them over.
“The Senior Drill Sergeant wants to see the two of you in the Orderly Room, on the double.”
A Chat with the Senior Drill Sergeant
Sergeant First Class Axelrod was seated behind a desk just inside the Orderly Room door.
Jake came to attention, Connor followed suit, and Jake said, “PFC Langstrom reporting with a detail of one, as ordered, Sergeant.” He then assumed the position of parade rest. Connor did the same.
“At ease, gentlemen,” Sergeant First Class Axelrod growled. “Have a seat.”
He pointed at two folding metal chairs set between the point Jake and Connor were standing and his desk.
“Thank you, Sergeant,” Jake said. He and Connor sat down.
“The two of you are not in any trouble, if you were worried about that,” Sergeant First Class Axelrod assured them. “What I want to do is address this issue of the possibility you two may be brothers who’ve never met.”
Jake and Connor, sitting more-or-less at Attention on the edge of their seats said nothing as the Senior Drill Sergeant eyed each one thoroughly.
“What’s your blood type, Private Kuyper?”
Connor swallowed, and then answered, “AB Positive, Sergeant.”
“Yours, too,” he asked Jake.
‘Hmm,” Sergeant First Class Axelrod murmured. “If it weren’t for that scar, Kuyper, I wouldn’t be able to tell the two of you apart. How’d you get that, anyway?”
“I wrecked my bike when I was thirteen, Sergeant. It took twenty stitches to sew my forehead back together.”
“I understand you were both adopted,” Sergeant First Class Axelrod said. “According to your file, you have the same birthday and birthplace, Home of the Airborne, Fayetteville, North Carolina. And you both grew up in North Carolina, but at opposite ends for the state. I grew up in Elizabeth City, myself.
“Now, I have no proof, you understand, but as much alike as you look, with the same blood type, place of birth, and birthday, I’d bet money that you two are brothers.
“Whether you are or not, though, don’t matter to the Army. What matters to the Army is what kind of soldiers you’re going to be. Is this whole finding your long-lost brother thing going to get in the way of your training?”
“NO! Sergeant!” both men responded.
“Dismissed,” Sergeant First Class Axelrod said, with a wave of his hand.
The two men stood, came to attention, did an about-face, and hustled from the Orderly Room.
Jake Michael's story continues in Chapter 16
- Cold War Warrior, The Jake Michaels Story #16
Jake and Charlie Company work their way through the first 8 weeks of Infantry School.
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