I first read this piece through a link via NeptunusLex. It's a wonderful read, and I was privileged to come in during part of what this article talks about.
Basic Training at San Diego. I was there. It was just like this:
Home was a narrow cot in an open-bay barracks featuring gang showers
and rows of sinks, urinals, and commodes with no provisions for
individuality, much less privacy. Lights out happened when the Company
Commander decided we'd absorbed enough humiliation for that day, that
our lockers were properly stowed, that our shoes were properly shined,
our barrack was properly cleaned, and that we clearly understood that
we were still useless raw meat that some unfortunate Chief Petty
Officer would one day be burdened with molding into halfway decent
And this is what I remember too:
The Navy I joined was easy to understand. It was organized and
straightforward. The hard workers got the bennies and the shirkers got
the brooms, and everybody in between was anonymous and safe so long as
his shoes stayed shined and his hair never touched his ears or his
collar. Chiefs ran the place and officers did the paperwork until
required to put on their zebra shirts and referee bouts between CPOs
engaged in pissing contests.
Anything a sailor needed to know, the Navy taught him, from tying
knots to operating fire-control computers on 16-inch guns. A sailor
never had to worry about what he was going to wear; that decision was
made for him and published in the Plan of the Day, which was read every
morning at quarters, usually by the Chief, the source of continuity,
stability, and purpose for everyone in the division.
Thanks, and a tip of the Dixie Cup to Grouchy Old Cripple
Be sure to add him to your links.