Military Language: Through My Eyes Literacy Narrative
Jaron Dowell Professor Benjamin Smith ENGL 1113 20120930 Military Language: Through My Eyes My drill instructor TSgt Huggins proudly stated to my flight of sixty other high school kids from around the U.S., “Well boys we just got some breaking news from the commander, the state of Texas’s elevation has increased by four inches and it’s your all’s responsibility to right this wrong and the only way to do that is to push, so get on your face and keep pushing till I say stop.
When most people overhear military personnel conversing with one other, I’m sure their first thought would be that the English language is being butchered because all they hear are acronyms. Examples are abound everywhere: if you overheard me saying that it’s time to go chow at the DFAC, most civilians would just stare at me with a puzzling look, but if other military personnel or someone familiar with the terminology overheard me, they wouldn’t question what had just been said at all; on the contrary, they would just know that it was time to go eat at the dining facility.
The first time military language was introduced to me was the unforgettable day of June 29th, 2009 in the unforgivable heat of southern Texas at Lackland AFB. While 99% of my senior class was off having a last hoorah before they went off to college, I was getting told to get on my face and do pushups till my arms fall off by a man so huge, the earth shook beneath his feet. I was hundreds of miles away from home, and it suddenly hit me for what I had gotten myself into. Over the next two months I would have my views on life be changed almost on a weekly basis by what was going on around me.
If I had known on my first day of what I should have said to Huggins question, I wouldn’t have had a problem, but instead I did the most idiotic thing you could do: I let out a small chuckle. With a blink of an eye, sergeant Huggins was in my face and letting me know if I thought something was funny, to which my response was “Sir trainee Dowell reports as ordered, sir I do not find you a funny man at all. ” I thought that was the proper answer, but I was very wrong. Huggins was all-knowing and had an answer to everything.
He just stared at me with a blank expression and said “That hurts trainee, here I was letting you see my talent and you go and do this to me, well since I’m obviously not the funny one how about you tell me a joke, so that way I can learn from a professional. ” That moment I started to open my mouth and before a word was spoken an explosion went off, “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING, YOU WILL NOT SPEAK, YOU ARE NOT FUNNY, YOU ARE GOOD FOR ONE THING AND ONE THING ONLY, YOU WILL BE MY LATRINE QUEEN AND YOU WILL HAVE MY BATHROOM CLEAN ENOUGH TO EAT OFF, DO YOU UNDERSTAND! To which I responded “Yes sir. ” It was at that moment I understood exactly the beauty of just saying two words and nothing else, “yes sir” was my dearest companion and would serve me well for the next couple months. Military culture was infusing itself with me more and more each day that I was at basic training. It was always adapting and helping me to understand the world around me and its intentions were obvious since very first day of basic training: to break me down, just to build me up.
The act of being yelled at was literacy in its purest form. To me it was a means of communicating the disciplines I would have to endure in order for me to be a contributing force in the United States Air Force. Although I was not a fan of being yelled at on a regular basis, it began to dawn on me that in order for me to progress; I would have to learn the language that was presented in front of me. As simple as the language may have appeared to me at first, I learned that it was actually quite intricate.
Not only did it combine language being spoken, but it utilized body language as well. The body language was the hardest aspect for me to grasp at the beginning; although I may have not intended to disrespect any MTI; my body language seemed to always be saying something completely opposite of what I had just spoken. But through persistent “behavioral modifications,” or as I like to say “getting my head chewed off,” I was able to overcome that obstacle in no time at all.
I had learned the art of being a big guy that could be tinier and quieter than a field mouse. I had learned my lesson and now began the practice of listening before speaking and it was worked wonderfully in my favor because I hadn’t received the wrath of any of my drill instructors. I started to realize that the military was teaching me valuable tools that would help me throughout my life, not just a means for me to survive basic training.
At times the language and environment was harsh but I came to the conclusion that I needed to take a step back and allow someone to help me progress myself as an adult. For me, graduating basic training was one of the proudest moments of my life and whenever I look back at that day, I know that if I hadn’t of been put through that stress, I wouldn’t have the skills I do today to deal with that. The military was a great thing for me to experience, and I will always be thankful for that.