"Sleep is a crutch"
It all started with the Ranger class prior to mine: a group of students who recycled Benning phase made a decision that would end up influencing my life in ways I could never have imagined. During their 3 weeks of recycle status waiting to join my Ranger class, about 5 or 6 students stole a couple cases of MREs and buried them in the woods out near Camp Darby(where the patrolling portion of Benning Phase happens). Their plan was to “borrow” some NODs to sneak out in the middle of the night and chow down on extra food while the rest of us starving rangers were passed out from exhaustion. It worked, but not for very long.
We had made it safely through the first FTX at Darby and now were just about finished with the 2nd FTX. We returned to Camp Darby during the night after our patrol, and I noticed that Alpha Company was getting the crap smoked out of them. All I could think at that point was “well, that sucks for them”. But Alpha Company’s pain was soon headed in my direction, and the word quickly spread that 2 pairs of night vision devices from A Co. were missing. Before we knew what hit us, our Ranger instructors came bursting out their office door and immediately began what would end up being 72 nonstop hours of pain and punishment. For us poor ranger students on the verge of heading to Mountains phase, there would be no sleep, no rest, and worst of all: no 8-hour pass that EVERY previous ranger class had received at the end of Benning phase to see their families, sleep, and most important of all: eat as much food as possible.
Apparently, the plan of the RI’s was to punish us to the point of exhaustion and then give us a 5 minute break to write on a notecard what we knew in regards to the missing NODs. We would turn in the notecards and then immediately go back to “exercises” while the instructors read each note card. Some very idiotic ranger students thought it would be funny to write some degrading comments about the RI’s on their notecards. This only made things worse. What we also quickly learned was that there was an endless rotation of Ranger instructors available to punish us as well, since everyone(students and instructors) had been locked down on Camp Darby. It stunk. We did countless lunges, pushups, jumping jacks, burpees, bear crawls, flutter kicks, squats, low crawls, left/right rolls, rifle PT, rucksack PT, jumping squats, jumping lunges….you get the picture.
I don’t know how it happened, but eventually the guilty students were identified. Two of them had stolen the NODs from Alpha company and used them to find their cache of MREs in the woods. Rather than returning the NODs after using them, they decided to toss them randomly into the woods. One student was arrested and the rest of the guilty ones were removed from the course and I’m sure had a wonderful letter written to their chain of command.
Unfortunately, the rest of us continued to be treated like absolute dirt. I remember very little from the entire ordeal. What I do recall quite vividly is the absurd number of times the instructors called us certain slurs/derogatory names that were so hateful and inappropriate that I would probably be forced to resign my commission as an officer if the Army caught me typing them on here. I also remember the last few hours at Camp Darby…we had spent all day in pain(while lots of family members sat at Camp Rogers waiting for us to show up for the non-existent 8 hour pass) and finally it appeared as if we were going to get a little bit of sleep prior to leaving for Mountains phase the next morning. It was about 3 am when we were told to go to sleep for 2 hours. Before any of us could move, it began to rain. The dirt pit in which we had just been rolling around quickly became sloppy mud. And so my friends and I spent our last few hours at Camp Darby covered in filth and sleeping in the mud. It was a fitting end, and I’m glad I can’t remember any more than that.
I don’t even remember getting on the bus to Mountains phase…all I know is I woke up in the back of the bus as we entered Camp Merrill, and another 3 weeks of hell were waiting for me outside.
"Not for the weak or faint of heart"