28 January 2013

"If You Don't Think You Can Cut It -- Don't Even Try..."



"We love it here, we love it here, we finally found a home.
A home - a home - a home away from home."
 Airborne Running Cadence

I recently spent three hours on the phone with an Army buddy I haven't seen since 1977. It was good to catch up and he told me about an airborne recruiting film from the '70s and asked if I'd ever seen it. It didn't ring a bell and, having just watched it, I still don't recall the video, but it does help bring back ground, tower and jump week like they were yesterday. 

16 weeks of basic and infantry prepared me physically for jump school but I'm not so sure about my mental condition. There was amazing freedom in jump school compared to infantry. Once Friday at 5PM rolled around - we were free to go where we wanted - just as long as we were in formation, and conscious, by 5AM Monday morning.

In order to hide shaved heads, a buddy and I bought hippie wigs in downtown Columbus and wore them to a disco at a Sheraton. Mine was blonde and shoulder length while my buddy donned a red 'Fro. I'm pretty sure we were both in leisure suits, of which, one was denim with white stitching. Maybe mine. Maybe not.

We sat at table between the dance floor and the bar and ordered beers. Feigning stoned absentmindedness, I pushed the long synthetic hair behind my right ear with the flick of a hand and with a twist of the neck, saw people at a table behind ours laughing. With unease, I turned to my buddy and saw people behind him laughing.

Someone pointed and it was obvious everyone in the bar was laughing at us. We left before our beers arrived and took a cab back to the barracks. I had every intention of chucking my wig out of the cab window, but it cost $30, and I thought I might be able to salvage it by having the length shortened.

In the barracks, we grabbed a couple beers from an old converted Coke machine and went up to our floor where I threw my blonde wig on my bunk in disgust. My buddy told those who had not gone out yet our tale of woe. Cromer, at least six-three and covered in black chest hair, headed toward us from the showers with a towel around his waist and cheap shower shoes snapping at his heels. He would wash out during tower weeek thanks to a severe case of shin splints, but get his wings in the following class.

Cromer grabbed the blonde wig, threw it on his head while dropping the towel and shoved his balls and penis between his legs revealing what looked like a woman's triangle of thick black pubic hair. Pigeon toed, to keep his privates concealed, Cromer ran across the barracks screaming, "Fuck me! Fuck me! Somebody give me some diiiiiiii..."

The barracks erupted in screams as Cromer was attacked and Polaroids taken. Needless to say, his simple   comic originality was immediately copied and my $30 wig disappeared for good into the the bowels of the 44th Airborne Company where men donned long synthetic hair and took turns running with their genitals tucked between their legs screaming, "Fuck Me!"  Never in the history of the Airborne was so much owed by so many to a wig. 

9 comments:

JP said...

Jump school wasn't that groovy when I went!

tintin said...

JP- Hopefully there were beer machines...

Oyster Guy said...

Self selection is almost always the best first step to finding the right people for a job.

Interesting film. Looks like some of the p.t. shots were borrowed by Kubrick for FMJ. It surprises me Blood on the Risers is not covered more, could work as a heavy metal song...

Smitty said...

Hilarious story! Man did short hair take you directly out of the game in that era! And how everyone tried to get away with fractions of an inch more in hopes of fooling chicks. The film's music had a little Shaft vibe going on! Put silver wings on my son's chest eh?

Andrew Touchstone said...

I would pay top dollar for a Polaroid of you sporting that wig....

Blake said...

I just went this past Aug and during jump week while we sat in the shed after we had JMPI'd waiting hour upon hour to jump and the black hats played this video over and over and over agin. We probably saw it at least a hundred times if not more. By the end the class had gone from enjoying it (the first few viewings) to hating it (viewings 20 through 60) to cheering for it (viewings 80 and above). It still makes me chuckle.

tintin said...

Blake- They still running in boots in jump school?

Blake said...

tintin - Yes they are but I would guess it's a long way from what you remember. Few people wear issued boots and most of the kids straight out of AIT (Advanced Individual Training - equivalent to your Infantry training) had purchased the Nike lightweight running boots or the Rocky lightweight boots or something equivalent.

tintin said...

Blake- Thanks. I had heard that. A platoon running in Corcoran jump boots made a glorious sound.