Sometimes I ponder the Bunker.† Itís a primitive website with no razzle-dazzle.† Itís held together by primitive HTML and I still refer to my HTML for Dummies book whenever I need to change something.† I donít even use one of those snazzy new programs that build the pages for you.† While pondering, I usually conclude that about the only thing the Bunker does is occupy time that I should likely spend elsewhere.† About once a week, these self-chats convince me that I need let it go.† I also look at my irregular ramblings here in BunkerTalk.† Generally, I conclude that they are beneficial for little more than for my own amusement.† While drowning in my pool of self-pity, Iíll pick up my working copy of The Three Meter Zone.† Itís the one with margin and post it notes all over it with addition and revision ideas then I toss it on the desktop and ask myself why bother?† Just when Iím at the point of chucking it and turning my attention toward other things that old retired farts should focus on, like planting flowers, Iíll get an e-mail like this one.
SERGEANT MAJOR PENDRY,
I JUST WANTED TO WRITE THIS EMAIL TO YOU
SAYING THAT I READ
YOUR BOOK AND THINK THAT IT IS A MUST READ FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BE IN A LDR SHIP POSTION. MY SQUAD LEADER GAVE IT TO ME AND SAID I WOULD LIKE IT AND THAT ISNíT EVEN THE WORDS FOR IT. YOUR BOOK WENT OVER SO MANY GREAT POINTS ABOUT THE ARMY TODAY AND HOW THINGS SHOULD BE AND NEED TO BE IN ORDER TO MAKE TODAYíS ARMY HOW IT SHOULD BE. I AM A SPC TEAM LDR AND HAVE BEEN TURNING DOWN THE PROMOTION BOARD FOR ALOMOST OVER A YEAR NOW AND IT HAS TURNED ME AROUND. I ALSO AM IN MY REENLITMENT WINDOW AND THEY ARENT REALLY OFFERING ME MUCH AND WAS ON THE TRACK OF JUST GETTING OUT AND READING YOUR BOOK INSPIRED ME TO STAY IN AND TO REALIZE THAT MY GOALS IN LIFE ARE TO BE THE MILITARY POLICE REGIMENTAL SERGEANT MAJOR. I THINK THE BEST PART OF YOUR BOOK OTHER THAN THE STORIES WAS THE THREE METER, FIFTY METER, AND HUNDRED METER SOLIDER PART. THAT EXPLAINED SO MUCH ABOUT JOES TODAY AND ONE OF MY JOES IS IN THAT THREE METER ZONE AT ALL TIMES. I THANK YOU AGAIN AND IT HELPED ME SO MUCH WITH SOME THINGS.
That recharges my battery.† I run on long life rechargeables as the rabbit does.† Iíll kick back after reading one of those e-mails.† If you could see me, youíd notice a big wide grin on my face.† Then, Iíll reminisce about the times that soldiers thanked me for helping them out.† There were some special ones, although I wonít bore you with the stories of them just now.† Well, maybe just one.† In 1980 something, I was a Drill Sergeant at Fort McClellan, Alabama.† I had one young soldier in a platoon that resembled the typical teenaged, Twinkie-eating, couch tater.† He was pudgy, overweight and had no muscle anywhere that I could find.† I figured Iíd dog him out along with the rest and in a couple of weeks, heíd be heading back to the Twinkie farm with a trainee discharge.† This was a big soft spoken, southern kid.† The more I dogged him, the harder he tried.† In a couple of weeks, his big rosy cheeks started to disappear and his uniforms started getting loose.† Quit was not in this young manís vocabulary.† By the end of 8 weeks, he was one of the top soldiers in the platoon.† We had to exchange his uniforms because nothing fit him anymore.† After graduation, the soldier walked up to me with his parents in tow.† He introduced his Father, the minister and his mother to me.† I thought I was about to catch it for some of the less than flowery language Iíd shared with his son over the past few weeks.† Instead, he reached out for my hand and said ďSergeant, I want to thank you for what you did for my son.† Itís nothing short of amazing.Ē† I did what Drill Sergeants do in such situations; I nodded, gave the minister a muted thank you and passed all the credit for the accomplishment to the new soldier.† But, inside I was doing my end zone dance.† It is the greatest feeling you can imagine.† Itís a feeling every Drill Sergeant has experienced.† Itís what keeps them going.† My battery charger was running at full power after that episode.† A few days later, that memory was in the back of my mind as I chased more bubble butts off the bus.† I was doing something good and I liked it.
I often get email from soldiers and young NCOs asking my opinion on leadership issues.† They usually begin by telling me they realize how busy I am and that if I donít have time to respond, theyíll understand.† They usually thank me for TMZ and for the website.† I proceed with caution, but do my best to provide them with encouragement to do their jobs and general advice to help them through their situations.† Most seem surprised that I bother to answer their emails.† Inevitably, they thank me, but inside I am thanking them because itís good to be asked.
Out here in Wild Wonderful, my contact with soldiers is limited to my Internet exchanges, [unless you count the pitiful rag the Army Times is trying to be] with those who send me email with questions or give me feedback to BunkerTalk and the discussion forum at http://www.squad-leader.com.† There are some old fogies out there too, in case youíre wondering.† Some take the time to tell me that they believe Iím full of West Virginia pinto beans for some of my opinions.† Usually they say it with humor, rarely with malice.† I appreciate them for staying engaged as well.† One old soldier sent me links to news articles about Army Ranger Jeremy Feldbusch; Iíll give you the links so that you can read the stories.† SPC Jeremy Feldbusch, 23, was wounded during a firefight at the Hadithah Dam, near Baghdad, on April 3.† Heís now totally blind and suffers some other debilitating injuries.
Iím thankful for all of the SPC Feldbuschís out there.† Read the stories.† He didnít have to be where he was, he chose to be.† Just like the folks who send me email, serving because they choose to.† So if yaíll donít mind, I think Iíll stick around and bother you a couple of times each month.† Oh, and Thank You!