He's Dead, Drill Sergeant

by John Harris

In the early 80's I went through US Army basic training in Alabama, in the summer.

Despite the Drill instructors constant harping about heat injuries, the three levels, symptoms, etc., my unit still suffered from a rate that must have exceeded 30%.

Now, an important element of military training is learning how to stay in formation, so everyone is taught to ignore anyone who falls out of a formation for any reason.

People who lock their knees will sometimes pass out, and with the prevalence of heat injuries we were quite accustomed to people dropping to the pavement.

Once a Drill Instructor saw the fallen recruit they would usually order the recruit standing in a position next to the afflicted to break formation and administer aid.

One day after a particularly grueling day of marching, yet another recruit took a dive. A Drill instructor gave his permission for the neighbor to check on him.

Finding no pulse coming from the clammy body the helper shouted out, in a fine military voice, "Drill Sergeant, He's dead Drill Sergeant!"

At that point several Instructors ran over, carried the victim to the wash room, started running cool water over him, and administering CPR.

The troopie had sun stroke. After weeks of training, acclimation, a strong young man's heart stopped.

Fortunately he was successfully resuscitated and managed to graduate, though it was several weeks behind the rest of us.

And, of course, heat and cold injuries both leave the victim forever more susceptible than before. Be careful!

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