After the tortuous 14 week process of Basic, and Advanced Individual training at Fort Benning. Almost all recruits head home for a break before reporting to their regular duty station. These soldiers were formidable, but they were what we call “Legs” which are soldiers who will never be Airborne.
For those Few who elected to take the hard road, and attempt to become a member of the Airborne ELITE the journey had just begun.
So, there I was standing alone with just three other soldiers out of hundreds of men who had just left after graduation. There was special feeling in the air like we three had just fought a battle, and were the sole survivors. We were getting ready to head directly over to Airborne school. The excitement I had was fear based from all the stories handed down from the drill sergeants of how difficult it would be for the few of us crazy enough to try out for the Airborne, but this fear was a powerful tool. I remember my Drill sergeant looking at me and saying, “when you get those wings, if you earn them, you will have surpassed me, and you’ll be in the top one percent of this Army’s soldiers.” It was serious fuel the mission ahead which was about to start early the next morning in the fog and humidity of southern Georgia.
Its hard to describe the feeling when you’re heading to an ELITE combat military institution that’s main purpose is to weed out weakness. Where 100% will start on day one, but less than 40% will be standing for graduation. Only the strong will survive, and only those willing to endure the punishment can avoid being a No-Go. Yes, you volunteered for this training, no one forced you into it. At the beginning somewhere inside yourself you felt the calling to become a Paratrooper. But six or seven out of every ten cant handle the pressure and the relentless harassment to give in, and give up. Oh they give you a way out, you can drop out by just walking up to a Black Hat during morning formation, and face the truth and the shame in front of the onlooking warriors and say” I am to weak to be an Airborne soldier.. Sir.” No one there forces you stay. Its not for everybody. Its only for those seeking the Glory.
One of the first visuals when approaching Airborne School
In fact; The the Airborne cadre called “Black Hats” have one job. To antagonize you day and night to leave. They hound you constantly, and they sort out the quitters early on. They can smell weakness, and once you show your are vulnerable its a bad day for you. You have to want it from deep down. You have suck it up, shut up, and do what you’re told.. After the end of week one you start to see the men separate from the boys, and then the real work begins.
The Infamous Worm Pit is where you go on top of the days training when you don’t perform up to standards. There you’ll endure hours of calisthenics while being hosed down and covered in sawdust you must enter and leave as a worm does on your belly face down, and under the hose.
We hit the mandatory five mile run at a seven minute per mile pace if you fall six paces off the last man you can be disqualified and released from the Airborne its no joke you have to be on your A game at all times. This is directly followed by rigorous physical training which includes names like ” the dying cockroach, and Inverted tree push ups.” Remember were talking about 500 or more push ups, and up to 1000 flutter kicks , hundreds of Star Jumpers, Mountain climbers, bear crawls, while under extreme pressure from the Black Hats who will break down your body constantly.
Now breaking down physically is a given, and its expected to adequately test each soldiers internal fortitude. The vital thing is that they must never see your Mind give in, and your will to continue must always remain strong. They know the body will follow the mind, so if you prove you wont break mentally in any way then they know you’re less likely fail in your future missions when you become a Paratrooper.
Being part of an Elite team always requires sacrifice and extraordinary commitment. That’s how it was being an Airborne Paratrooper, and that’s how is being Chop Certified, we hold ourselves to the absolute highest standards.