The tryout……. An essay by William Marshall

When I first saw them, I knew that is what I wanted to be. They just looked different, cool school heroes. They wore their LBE different than the rest, way up high. It kept their notebooks, their “Green Books,” ever so close. They had really sexy patrol caps, each rolled in his own way and I had to wear my helmet with a HALO of laser reaction disks on it. We were playing a big game. A war game. I hadn’t actually been to war before, but this was a real as it gets. They had rolled up in their “buggies” as I heard one of them just kinda throw out. Over by the way, there were 10 or so Hummers, old school army hummers. The ones with 4 doors and no cargo area. The sports car of modern day jeeps. They would go anywhere. They had winches on the front and little white triangles with codes on them. B20 was the leader of the pack. B20A was the senior NCO, the big dawg. That’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. I couldn’t be B20. That was reserved for future Generals. They were the best of the best. They were Observer Controllers at the Joint Readiness Training Center. We were there to train. We had brought our equipment, put the latest Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems, MILES, on it and ourselves and going to war. Wow! Do you remember playing SWAT with your cousins when you were kids? Ever done paintball? This game had it all. Aircraft for us to shoot down and to shoot at us. We were Air Defenders you see. Gonna shoot the bad guy down.

The OCs, as they were called, were assigned to each team, almost like their own personal Yoda. It was like we were in Starship Academy. You know, movie stuff. They follow us around. They always knew what was happening before we did. They were so familiar with the area they didn’t need maps and compasses. They had, what they called, OC grids. I used to listen to them. They always had earpieces in there ear and talk quietly on the radio. They were Godlike. I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to be the cool guy.

A few years later, when I was a little more seasoned. I got a call from the CSM. “Hey Marshall, go down the JRTC and be a Augmentee OC for the next rotation. What do you think about that?” Heck yes, I said. CSM didn’t say it, but I knew it would be a tryout. Maybe they would let me be on the big squad. I did get “Hero of the Battle” when I was there. They showed my picture 4 times during the AAR. I’ll get a radio, and earpiece, and I can use OC grids. I think I’m gonna ask for a list when I get there.

Squelch Squelch B-34a(that was my call sign, my a was small, for augmentee), B-34a, this is B-31 over? Sq: Yes, B-31, this is B-34a. I was excited. I’m talking on the radio, I’m driving my hot rod. Its dark and I’m trying to find my way. B-31: Hey, is that you rolling up on the DZ? B-34a (the a is for augmentee): “Um, yeah, maybe”, I said. Hell, I didn’t know where I was. B-31 was my new boss. I liked him, he liked me. I think. B-31: B-34a if you that’s you rolling up on the DZ, you know the airdrop is coming, the Drop Zone is closed. Is that you, where are you? B-34a: “I’m under the moon……mmmm….aaa… uhh…….Now!

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