Cold War Warrior, The Jake Michaels Story #18
Graduation Coming On
The eight weeks between Family Day and Graduation Day passed quickly. Jason, Reggie, Connor, Jake, Pete, and Van were among those selected for training as Indirect Fire Crewmen, better known as Mortar Men. They spent most of the next eight weeks on the mortar square learning how to set up, aim, and adjust the mortars for deflection and elevation changes.
Near the end of One Station Unit Training, the men of Charlie Company had two more challenges to face, the POIQT - the final exam on infantry soldier skills - and the final Physical Education Test. Charlie Company’s cadre made it clear they expected Charlie Company to achieve a Double Eagle. A Double Eagle could only be earned if every man in the company passed both the POIQT and PT Tests.
Jake and the men in First Platoon’s Third Squad not only passed the POIQT, but most of them earned 100% on the test. Jake, Connor, and Van also earned the maximum score on their PT Tests. All the men of third squad passed.
All of Charlie Company passed the POIQT, some barely, and all passed the PT Test, some with the minimum score, but they passed. It was a great day of celebration for Charlie Company. For the first time in fifteen weeks, the First Sergeant allowed the men to order pizza delivered to the company area.
Graduation Day arrived. Gus and his wife came. Dawson and Becca came. Mandy didn’t come; she was back in Wilmington finalizing plans for the wedding. Fathers, mothers, siblings, spouses, and fiancés of the other men came. Jake’s mother did not come.
“I’m sorry, Jake,” Dawson said when Jake met him and Becca at the entrance to the company area. “I tried and tried to convince your mother to come, but she wouldn’t budge. She still hasn’t forgiven you for joining the Army to get out of going with us to Massachusetts.”
“Is she going to come to my wedding?” Jake asked.
Guess Who Is Not Coming to Graduation
Dawson didn’t say anything, but the look on his face told Jake all he needed to know.
“I didn’t think so,” Jake said with a sigh. “Her loss. She’ll regret it the rest of her life.”
“Who’ll regret what?” Connor asked as he walked up on the Michaels.
Becca’s eyes flew open wide. “Jake, he looks just like you!”
“Do you remember I wrote and told you about finding my twin brother, Becca? This is him. This is Connor.”
Becca stared at Connor in wonder. “If you’re Jake’s brother, that means you’re my brother, too, don’t it?”
“Sure,” said Connor, with a shrug. “I guess it does.”
“How cool is that?” Becca exclaimed. “Daddy, I don’t just have a brother, I’ve got twin brothers. And they’re both Army men.”
Dawson grinned. “You’re right, sweetheart. Aren’t you a lucky girl?”
Becca held her arms out to Connor. “Can you pick me up, new brother?”
Connor picked Becca up. She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave her new brother a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“Is Mandy coming to your graduation?” Dawson asked Jake.
Jake frowned and shook his head. “No. She’s staying home to finish preparations for the wedding. I hope everything’s going okay. Mandy hasn’t told me much about the wedding plans in her letters.”
“I’m sure everything is going to be fine,” Phyllis Kuyper, Connor’s mother, said. “Mandy probably didn’t want to distract you with the details while you were finishing up training.”
“I hope you’re right, Mrs. Kuyper,” Jake said but didn’t sound convinced.
Further conversation about the wedding was curtailed when the company was called to fall in. Guests were given instructions on how to find the parade field where graduation would take place.
Jake crossed the stage when his name was called and received his certificates. There were several in the manila envelope the Battalion Commander handed him. The two Jake was most proud of were the POIQT Eagle Certificate and the PT Eagle Certificate he’d gotten for scoring the maximum on both tests. He’d also earned Expert medals for Rifle, Grenade Launcher, Pistol, and Hand Grenade. Two certificates for running were included in the envelope: one for 50 miles and one for 100 miles. These represented the cumulative mileage of the PT runs Charlie Company had completed during their sixteen weeks at Fort Benning.
After the graduation, there was a short reception for the family and friends of the soldiers so they could meet the drill instructors who’d guided their loved ones through the rigors of Infantry School. Jake insisted Dawson meet SSG Morris.
“You’ve got quite the young man there, Mr. Michaels,” SSG Morris said as he shook Dawson’s hand. “He’s got a bright future ahead of him in the Army.”
“Thank you, Sergeant,” Dawson replied with a smile.
SFC Frausto went farther. “PFC Michaels would make a fine officer. He already knows the most important rule, don’t you Michaels?”
“Yes, Sergeant. Always listen to your NCOs,” Jake replied.
“I’ve put a note in your 201 file, Michaels, recommending you be considered for USMAPS, the US Military Academy Preparatory School. Both you and your brother. I can’t promise it will make any difference, but it might.”
“Thank you, Sergeant. I appreciate you doing that.”
Jake Michaels' story continues in Chapter 19
- Cold War Warrior, The Jake Michaels Story #19, Homecoming
Jake comes home from Infantry School to an unhappy surprise.
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